COVID-19 causing relationship issues?

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - While health officials say home is the safest place to be, this could be causing relationship issues.

Justin and Melissa Estep have been together almost five years now, so living under the same roof in Reno is nothing new. But they say the stay-at-home order in Nevada has given their relationship a new meaning.

"I haven't ripped her head off yet, so we're doing good," Justin Estep said.

Experts say too much time together can strengthen and strain a relationship.

Justin added, "Some couples could be having issues and we've had some issues too but all together it's been good for us."

"They're depending a lot more on their spouse or partner for some support where formerly they would have got that from being out with other people," Cornelius Sheehan, Director of Sierra Nevada Counseling Associates said.

Cornelius Sheehan is a local psychotherapist who specializes in emotional therapy for couples, families and individuals. He says he's actually seen a decline in business due to fears surrounding COVID-19, but the virus isn't the only reason couples may be struggling.

"The time together itself isn't the problem, it's just when there are so many stressors and they're so dependent only on one another," Sheehan said.

Those stressors include financial, occupational, self isolation and changes in routine. Sheehan says conflict at home with your significant other can also have negative effects on your kids, your personal health, and your work life.

Some ways couples can try to work through conflict during quarantine include: Acknowledging each other's feelings and behaviors, cutting back on excessive mood-altering substances, get outdoors to switch up the scenery, keep in touch with friends and family regularly for social balance, and reach out for professional help.

Sheehan added, "There is a way to get beyond that reactivity and for people to get to a place where they can start to reach toward one another again."

"At the end of the day when I'm getting frustrated that we have this small of a space and only one couch i'm just grateful for our health," Melissa Estep said.

These close quarters may be tough right now, but being accessible, responsive and emotionally engaged (ARE) with your loved one will only bring you closer.

For a list of counseling services with Sierra Nevada Counseling Associates, click here.

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