(TNS) – I am grateful my wife and I are both healthy and my work has not been interrupted during COVID-19. But even with good health and work, emotionally the pandemic is still uncomfortable and scary and not a whole lot of fun.

As a couple, we keep trying to make things better. In the past, we could just do whatever we wanted, but these days, we have to allow for what’s safe as well as fun.

Here are a few important areas to consider these days, whether you’re in a partnership or not:

1. Events and parties

We aren’t ready to go to events or go to parties just yet. In addition, it was another concert-less summer, which was a happy go-to in the past. My wife and I are both sad we can’t have a large dinner party or go to any events, but neither feels safe to us just yet. That is our reality, but we know other people feel differently and we must adapt.

2. Dining out

Our dining out has also changed dramatically. We used to eat out half the week, but not anymore! Now we prefer takeout from local places we know are safety conscious. Dining in, it’s easy to socialize with one other vaccinated couple at a time. It’s a lot of fun too. We keep the windows open, and we are outside as much as possible. If you’re also eager to dine with friends, you’ll find spending time with fewer people is not only safer but has the advantage of letting you get to know each better. It’s more intimate.

3. Sharing your feelings

The Olympics helped fill some gaps this summer, but like most everything else, it just wasn’t the same. The COVID-19 cloud still hangs over everything and taints our joy. As a couple, we have learned to share out loud the things we miss and, at the same time, we talk about what we appreciate and are grateful for, like having each other. If you’re not part of a couple (and I’ve been there!), it’s important not to isolate but to seek out the support of family and friends.

4. Honoring your commitments

Obviously, big commitments are important. But in our household, the small ones matter too, like watching our favorite shows on TV together. I’m not watching the news as much, and we have a couple of shows we share — no video-infidelity in this family! We honor our commitments to each other, and nothing gets in the way of that.

5. Doing things together

We do almost everything together, and that makes life more fulfilling for us, even doing tax prep. She sits next to me while I grind through the paperwork. It’s still frustrating as hell, but her presence makes it easier to deal with anything I find distasteful. If you’re living on your own, possibly working alone at home, make sure you get out every day, even if it’s just for a walk to your local café for a cup of takeout coffee. Spending time with others, even if you’re all wearing a mask, is important.

6. Being kind to each other

We have never had much conflict. Yes, we have spats, but we don’t hold grudges, and we never insult each other or become harsh. We are both mature enough to know this will only erode the relationship, not allow it to bloom. You can weather almost any conflict with a friend or your partner if you have a shared commitment to kindness.

7. Being each other’s audience

I’m a huge fan of my wife, and she’s my best groupie. These days, when I play guitar, she is my only audience. Every now and then, she takes out her phone while I’m playing and waves it in the air like I’m giving a concert. If someone you care about wants to share, know that a little applause goes a long way.

If you are listening, learning and making healthy decisions, you will get through the delta variant and whatever comes next. If you are lucky enough to be part of a good support structure, take pride in that and honor your connection — it really helps with the difficulties of life on all levels. If you are doing this alone, at the very least know that you are not in it alone and you can, when you are ready, reach out.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”

Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.


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