The world as we know it has experienced a dramatic shift. We have – all of a sudden – witnessed a change in our realities, as if someone removed the grounds we walk on from underneath, immobilizing and destabilizing us.
Our ability to respond to overwhelming chaos is directly proportionate to our ability to stay connected to ourselves, our bodies and our loved ones. Now, more than ever, your love and sex life matter profoundly. Our attention has been – rightfully – so abruptly redirected not only to what we take for granted: food, financial stability or lack of, health… but also to what gives our existence meaning and joy: connection with those we love.
We have to learn to live in this new normal, and accordingly, our relationships will evolve and shift. Our aim is to be creative, to learn, and to strengthen bonds. Yes, inspiration, warmth, and passion are a challenge now. Yet, spending time with your loved one – in the bedroom and elsewhere – can help you cope with the current uncertainty you and your partner might be going through.
Communication is Key
Our lives have been diffused into one confined area, together and separately. While you try to adapt to new dynamics, be mindful of creating new boundaries and dissolving old ones.
Communicate clearly and openly, about what you feel and how you think. Not only will you be holding space for yourself, you will be experiencing it together. If you need time and space from your partner or family, state that without criticism or anger, and clarify that you will be back. We all need self-soothing slots during the day or week.Then, be the one who comes back.Remember, establishing a solid line of communication between you and your partner will help you avoid feeling trapped by external stressful factors, like the current pandemic situation, for instance.
If you feel you are not connecting enough, communicate that too. Open and clear communication is important to keep you both in sync. As friend and colleague sexologist Natalie Hatjes, MS, CHT advises: “communication is essential in a relationship always, but especially during these times of uncertainty. Ask for what you need, stay present, and practice gratitude.”
Relationship with Oneself
Communicating what you are going through, and sharing your experiences together require a great amount of emotional self-awareness. In order to do that, it is recommended that we cultivate and maintain a relationship with ourselves before and while we maneuver our relationships with our partners. We need to be aware of our boundaries – the old and new – when we need to recharge and have ‘me-time’ slots, when we want to connect, and how to communicate all of the above. Our responsibility as adults in relationships also includes a responsibility towards ourselves, to maintain our health internally and not just externally. This is a lifelong continuous process, yes, yet is especially important in times of stress and chaos.
Take the time to develop a sense of self connection, internal self-love, and self-awareness with yourself. We cannot show up for our partners if we don’t show up for ourselves too.
It DOES Take Two to Tango
Communication doesn’t stop here. It also includes tuning in with each other into how we deal with stress. We all have different ways of coping and processing anxiety and chaos.
For instance, one partner may need more time to process emotional states and stress, while the other may want to talk about things right away. The key to bridge this gap is for one partner to try and make an effort in verbalizing their emotional check-ins, while the other could try to give them more time to process and listen attentively and empathetically.
The way we deal with situations, our character traits, and our differences can work in our favor, especially in times like these. Pull out those differences and use them as resources to balance each other out and complement each other. It’s not easy. It’s hard work. But it used to take a whole community to make a village work, so it does take two different people to make a relationship work.
Remember, it’s how you say it, not what you say.
Sex and Playfulness
Never have relationships been more important for providing a sense of safety, intimacy, and connection. Relationships are hard work as it is. And right now, your brain could be focusing on stress, rather than connecting with your partner, let alone sex. When your mind is overthinking, filled with stress and worry, you will be feeling less turned on in your body, less creative, and less playful.
Make more effort as a couple to tune out and tune in to each other. Schedule a date night even if you’re locked in. If you have children at home, try to create time for you both together – as hard as it can be with the lack of privacy.
Be a lot more playful. Listen to music and dance together, take bubble baths together, dress up for a date at home, or even play pretend with each other. Get creative and use your imagination!
It’s important to note that couple’s work also includes working on your individual anxiety, separately and together amid stress. It is not enough to do one or the other, but rather all the steps complement each other.
This historical shift can be a test for us to reassess our lives, how we’ve been living, and how we’ve been conducting our relationships. It has humbled us. Now is the time to question old dynamics, slow down, and refocus on what is actually important: your connection to yourself and to those you care about.You may end up feeling happier in lockdown after all.
By, Dana Sarhan, Relationships & Sex Psychotherapist.
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