The weather outside might be frightful, but it's nothing compared to the tension inside your home. No matter how well you and your significant other usually get along, there's something about freezing temperatures that really take out the heat in your relationship. Being stuck inside with anyone, even the love of your life, can get tiring and exhausting as restlessness begins to impact your mood and reactions.
As relationship expert Christy Whitman says, couples often bicker more when they're stir-crazy. "Since many people find both stress relief and a greater connection with themselves by participating in activities outside the home, like spending time in nature, golfing, or even going to work. When these options are no longer available and partners have not identified other options to take their place, the result is more disconnection and a greater potential for disharmony," she says. Here, a guide to the fights you can anticipate having with your partner when the snow and sleet build outside your front door. And more importantly? How to melt the ice away.
You're Watching Too Much Netflix
One of your relationship pastimes might be tuning into your favorite TV shows together, but when you're trapped indoors with little access to other entertainment, you might become irritable as you're suddenly aware of just how much screen time your partner is logging. "Daily habits such as how much TV partners watch, and what types of shows; how late or early each wakes up or naps throughout the day; or how much each chooses to eat, drink, and be merry can all become sources of irritation," Whitman explains.
In addition to holding your tongue, try your best to make a decision together about how much TV you're comfortable with in 24 hours. While snow days are great for R&R, spending that time talking, reconnecting, and dreaming together is healthier than binge-watching a show. "Taking time to understand one other's goals and expectations will minimize surprises and prevent minor annoyances from escalating," Whitman adds.
You're Not Listening to Me
The only face you've seen this weekend is your partner's. It's below freezing outside, roads are unsafe, and you've worn out every last topic you can think of. And now, for whatever reason, you're suddenly convinced your partner isn't being considerate of your feelings. "When couples start to believe their feelings don't matter to their partner, or they feel disrespected in some way, they will act out with anger against the other one or do the opposite and shut down altogether, pushing the other away," says Thomas Gagliano, a life mentor and author.
In this case, try to keep a cool, level head and remember to put one another need's above your own. "There are times our partner may want to do something we don't want to do such as visiting friends or watching a movie. We have to do what we may not want to do at times in order to show selflessness," he says.
You're Spending Too Much Money on Amazon
...or on takeout. Or anywhere, frankly. Since the most brutal days of winter often fall at the start of the year, seeing those credit card statements from the holiday season is enough to make your heart race. When your partner continues to rack up the expenses because they can't be bothered to bundle up in the cold, Whitman says a riff is bound to ripple. That's why setting boundaries together is the key to a peaceful homestead.
"Couples should agree on a budget for spending, including what each will spend on gifts for one another, and honor that agreement as closely as possible," she says. "And if either one has a sudden desire an extravagance not previously discussed, to make sure to negotiate this ahead of time rather than after the fact."
You're Not Giving Me Space
You live in a teeny-tiny one bedroom apartment or your house is being remodeled, so only a section has heat. There are plenty of reasons that couples might feel like they're piled on top of one another when they're snowed in. Everyone needs some sort of alone time, so when you're not able to recharge solo, you might lash out in ways that are disruptive to your union. Here's where scheduling becomes essential, Whitman says. Even if you're inside for the entire day and night, let your partner know when you're retreating to the bathtub and don't want to be disturbed.
And when your partner wants the living room to catch a game? Let him or her have it. "Support one another in building in plenty of 'me' time! By working together to ensure that each partner has what they need, couples are less likely to see one another as the cause of their stress even when stressful situations arise," Whitman notes.