We are all experiencing a crisis beyond comprehension!
While the far-reaching ramifications remain unclear, phrases such as “social-distancing” and “self-quarantine” will become indelible in our vocabulary.
Even the first sign of a dry cough or a slight feeling of unwellness may result in a hypervigilant fear response.
No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has or will affect us all in life-changing proportions, if not physically, then certainly socially, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually!
What will this crisis do to intimate relationships
Will you be at each other’s throats, bickering and sweating the small stuff due to anxiety or a sense of hopelessness/helplessness?
Will you distance yourself emotionally from one another, not knowing how else to cope?
Or, will you come together to build a connection with your partner in a new and beautiful way of partnering to aid and support one another with whatever hand you are dealt?
These and many other questions we must now face while this cruel and heartless virus creates a dark cloud among us.
Nevertheless, even though we have so few choices right now about how this pandemic will impact us individually, let alone collectively in the world at large, we can take charge of how we create more intimacy in a relationship and deep emotional connection in this present moment.
Tips to connect with your partner
In my professional and personal experience, it appears to me that when we don’t have the ability to solve the bigger issues, we can keep ourselves grounded with greater ease when we focus on the things over which we have some control.
Granted, these may seem trivial amidst the crisis, but If you’re not currently faced with illness, sometimes practicing the simplest things matter the most.
So aside from implementing all of the recommended precautions to keep yourself healthy and safe during the coronavirus pandemic, try practicing any or all of the following ways to connect with your partner:
1. Choose some sort of phrase or mantra together.
Find something that resonates with both of you. Then, if one or the other goes into a negative state of mind, you can remind each other of something hopeful.
For example, you might say, “Honey, we will do all we can to get through this… and we will face each day with gratitude and hope!”
2. Tell each other one of your favorite stories about the process of you two falling in love.
Rekindling memories that brought you together as a couple can create a positive chemical reaction in the brain. And, without a doubt, we could all use a dose of happy neurotransmitters right now!
3. Create a date night at home.
Of course, children can complicate this challenge as they need your attention more than ever at this time. So, think outside of the box.
To reconnect with your partner, try to find at least 15 to 30 minutes, if not more, to keep your focus exclusively on one another.
During the time you set aside, turn off all devices, enhance eye contact, and ooze words of admiration and gratitude for one another.
4. Exchange love letters.
If you or your partner don’t have the creative writing spirit, then simply make a list of all the things you each appreciate about each other!
Share these aloud one evening before going to sleep.
5. Increase physical contact.
Of course, to connect with your partner, there is always sex, but please don’t put any pressure on yourself to perform in a way that doesn’t suit your mood.
Sometimes, under conditions of fear, our sex drive may increase, while for others, it dissipates completely. Both reactions are normal.
If you and your mate are not in sync, find a compromise. Generate nourishing and sensuous affection. Be creative. But mostly, just love one another!
Try new ways to show affection and use them to reconnect with the spouse.
6. Meditate side-by-side.
We are often taught to feel guilty if we enjoy a moment of tranquility while others are suffering.
Nevertheless, self-care is important in order to replenish the energy we need to be able to give to and help others.
So please take a moment together to relish in your ability to breathe and live life! This doesn’t have to be a grand event.
Keep it simple. Of course, feel free to use any of the hundreds of free apps available to guide you.
7. Focus on what really matters.
In other words, don’t make mountains out of molehills! The negative energy of the virus can be contagious to our emotional and psychological well-being.
Hence, many couples find themselves fighting about trivial matters. But, don’t let this looming beast take over your mind, becoming mired with resentments.
Instead, to connect with your partner, push sharply against its destructive power by forgiving the small stuff and forging ahead!
Most importantly, please take these times of adversity to cultivate greater acceptance, love, and kindness with your mate, yourself, and all of humanity! And, keep yourself and others as safe as possible!
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Dr Debra" Mandel, aka "The Love Warrior," is a nationally renowned psychologist, author, and TV/Radio personality with twenty-plus years experience. Combining wit, wisdom and compassion, Dr Debra has helped millions of people overcome their woes and learn to thrive!
(Debra Mandel is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Thousand Oaks)