Here we are. Global Crisis. Pandemic. Coronavirus. And we have never, as a generation, lived through anything even remotely like this. WTF? We are heart broken from the loss. We are praying for recovery, healthcare workers, and everybody else. We are….confused? Baffled? I am going with mystified. Ya, I’m sticking with that. We are mystified about conflicting information. Open? Stay closed? Masks? No? 6 feet away? Definitely! And what EXACTLY does a ventilator do? Our depression, our fear, our anxiety–It’s all kicking back in. Our patience is wearing thin, while our NEED for Grace, our NEED for Love, our NEED for understanding is on the highest alert.
This is high vibration stuff. Especially since we are also shoulder-to-shoulder with our beloved partners. We like to be close, but maybe not THIS close? Maybe this close, but maybe not all the time? We do what we do, what we should, what we have to. We social-distance. We self-quarantine. We get through the DAMN DAY!! But how? I mean really, how? We have lost our freedom (my favorite and most sacred feeling). We have lost…….we have just lost a lot. What now? How do we navigate this crisis with our partner, without wanting to mangle each other by the end of the day. How do we navigate this when all of this seems so incredibly personal. How do we give our love to people, specifically our life partner, our intimate partner, our LOVE partner, whom we are now be spending an ginormous amount of time with, and not all happy-time, without sacrificing the love we have for ourself? Here’s some ideas.
1. State Your Highest Intention
What the hell does that mean? When we choose our person, that person, the one that means the very most to us, there is an undeniable connection that exists. And then you go through the stuff. The babies. The moves. The jobs. The finances. All that real world, grown shit. Yet your love still exists, even if you’ve forgotten to show it. And not in-spite of your historical crap, but because of it. Capitalize on that. Now is a great time to set your highest intention for your relationship. It will help you see more clearly that you’re both in this together. In this for the long haul. I recommend you do this together, but if your partner’s not into it then alone is just fine. It only takes one person to change the dynamic. What does it mean to set your highest intention? It is sort of like establishing a mission statement for your relationship.
Find a time to be together, or by yourself in a calm space that is uninterrupted by children. YA RIGHT! That’s laughable. This can be done at your kitchen table, very simply. With kids around. Ask one another the following questions:
- How do I want to make my partner feel? (Use the link to see examples of feeling states–ex. Confident, Courageous, Sexy)
- How do I want to feel in this relationship? (Same link–ex. Creative, Exciting, Sexy)
- What goal do I have for our relationship? (ex. To create new experiences for us to complete as each year goes by, no matter how big or small)
- Talk things through, taking into consideration the information you received from questions 1-3. Write down several statements you can draw upon. Example:
Now write your missions statement using the information you got from the questions: ex. “It’s our mission, as a couple to commit to our goals, always be respectful of one another’s feelings, and carve out time to be together and continuously prioritize our relationship.”
2. Declare Your Boundaries
So normally when I’m talking with clients about boundaries we are chatting about the way your partner makes you feel, in comparison to the way you want to feel. All of that is very important, and some of it is right there in Step 1. However, today I am talking about good old physical boundaries. The kind that can be created by walls, doors, sheets hanging from the ceiling, blanket fortes, whatever kind of partitions you can create and maintain. During this time of forced-togetherness it is important to stake out time and space to be alone. To sit and think. To work. To meditate or pray. To have privacy.
Some people have homes or apartments that are large enough to simply walk in a room and close the door. Others have to be a little more creative. A cozy nook in the corner of your living room, with a comfy pillow and blanket, a small candle and book can be your own private respite. Whatever the space, the deal is that it is yours and yours alone. This space exists for you to do whatever needs to be done in order to unwind, relax the brain, and recharge–and separate yourself from the one you love, to be new and refreshed and grateful when you see one another again.
3. Create A Couple Space
When we go through the day to day with our partner, we often take for granted the time we spend together. It is usually spent in the process of “DOING” and not in the process of “BEING.” Let me back up. The process of doing looks like this:
Get home from work. Make dinner, eat dinner, clean up from dinner. Help kids with their homework. Take kids to baseball. Watch kids at baseball. Home by 9pm. Snack. Shower. Put kids to bed. Now it’s 10pm, you’ve barely said hello to one another. You’re in the process of doing. And hey, it’s gotta be done. These are times you won’t get back. You’re both engaged in the family.
Perhaps you don’t have kids, or they’re grown. The process of doing may look like this:
Home from work at 6pm. Make dinner-clean up with kitchen. Walk the dog. Now it’s 7:30pm. Great! Just in time for the national news…which leads into the local news…which bleeds into 2 hours of binge watching Netflix or The Real Housewives of Wherever. Now it’s past 11 and, if you’re still both in the same room, you shuffle off to bed. Please don’t misunderstand me. I love binge watching ALL the things! And Paul and I do this. A LOT! But there has to be scheduled time within every relationship. Your relationship is a living breathing thing that needs nurturing to grow. When your relationship is ignored, put on hold, or placed as the last thing on your long list of “things to do,” you begin to look at it as a burden. It loses light. It loses air. Eventually it either dies, or if you’re finally paying attention, you resuscitate it.
Even though we are all living in a current state of utter confusion; Can we go outside? How long must I keep myself nestled in a 6ft. bubble of personal space? Can I hug my kids, who are living in my same house? Perhaps the most important question, how can I use this time to make my relationship better? To nurture my partner?
Create a private and intentional space that is just for the 2 of you to connect. Now I know what you’re thinking. Sure we all have our bedrooms. We all have our beds. And sex is and should be a big part of nurturing your relationship. However, this isn’t about physical connection. It’s about emotional healing. This should be a defined space within your home, with a minimum time limit, where you come to connect everyday, even if it is just for 10 minutes. Your living room sofa, kitchen island, or of course your bedroom is fine too. It is a way of just catching up, connecting, holding hands and finding new things to talk about. Talking about your future, asking and answering the really important and really obscure questions you’ve wanted to talk about, will bring you closer together. It’s your time to simply be free with one another, and delve into what makes you tick; and what’s changed. We are talking about maintaining, re-igniting, and rediscovering Love here. Love with a Capital L!!! Clear a space. No distractions. Talk to your partner. That is all.
4. Do Something Different
Even the very best relationships go through times when things are stale. We settle into our routines, and we become complacent. Maybe even a little bored. This state of being has become highlighted for many of us, as we continue our pattern of “Netflix and Chill” during our isolation. Time to shake things up! Doing something different with your partner, specifically something that neither of you have done before, is one of the best ways to keep your relationship fresh, and one of the easiest ways to reignite passion.
John Gottman, founder of the Gottman Institute, author, and leading expert on falling in love and staying there, praises the power of making kissing a part of your everyday relationship. He has researched and concluded that a daily 6 second kiss will strengthen the bond and revive romance between couples. Whoo Hoo, let’s give a high-5 for bringing back making out!!!
When is the last time you’ve flirted with your partner? If you’re like most people, it’s hard to find time between car pools and cleaning for that. Do you remember when you first met one another? That sexy lively flirtation you had across the table at your favorite restaurant? The desire and sexual tension that just being together created? Well flirting is back. And whether you do it in person, or by sexting over your phone, it can create a delicious, mysterious, and sexy vibe between you. Not sure you remember how to flirt? Here is a great place to start getting your flirt on. Is sexting scary to you? Not sure what to say? Here’s some fun sexting ideas to get you rollin’.
If you would like to see the most comprehensive list of things that couples can do at home to shake things up, and do something different, head on over to The Dating Divas. You will find many suggestions to get you started, and likely more to help you end as well.
5. Compassion & Empathy
We are living in the most tumultuous time in our American history. We have been thrown into confusion and change. Yet, as humans we are adaptable. We accept, we adapt, it’s what we do. I was at the grocery store for a quick visit today. All of us respecting one another’s personal space. It is amazing that we instinctively do what we do. Allowing for that same compassion and respect within our relationships is a key to not only surviving this disorientation with our lovers, but actually thriving! Recognizing that our partner may be traveling the same journey with you, but their feelings about this are going to be different. Feeling compassion for one another, and empathizing with each other’s new place in this world is integral.
Allowing ourselves to put down any swords that are making us edgey, misunderstood. Being kind–for kindness sake. Saying you’re sorry when you screw up. Listening to HEAR and not to respond. All of these will go a very long way in getting through this pandemic, and getting through it together, and will make you happier in general. Good, now go make-out!