How to improve your relationship after Covid-19 lockdown?
Even the most stable of relationships can feel as though the wheels have come off after three months of living in close proximity through the CoVid-19 lockdown. However much you adore your partner no one on Planet Earth signed up for the relentless 24/7 that most couples have just lived through.
Now, as lockdown eases and some semblance of your pre-pandemic life comes back into sharp-focus what can you do to ensure your relationship moves from mere survival mode to truly joyous thriving?
Communicate from your heart
Couples pre-lockdown often used to think it was important to talk to each other about whatever was on their mind. Now though after three months of lockdown’s inevitable over-sharing more of the same kind of conversation could be the last thing you two need to do.
The most important communication for couples to repair or create connection, especially those struggling having lived with each other during the lockdown, is not words. They are the flashes of empathy, care and acceptance you can share. So, it’s not ever what you say to your partner but how you say it.
Now, let’s be honest, the lockdown has not been easy and you may be harbouring feelings of resentment towards your partner due to how annoying you’ve found them to be. You could be waiting for them to make the first steps to repairing your relationship before you warm to the idea of joyous reconnection.
Being right doesn’t always help
And, the truth is you may well have the moral high-ground and your feelings of being aggrieved might be justified. The only problem is the moral high ground is a lonely place and waiting for your partner to step-up and sort our your relationship by themselves leaves you a bystander in your own life while you wait.
All couples struggle to effectively communicate with each other at all times. Only the unemotional or the disinterested could have maintained the same level of communication throughout the entire period of enforced lockdown. There are times when a partner can listen to their loved one’s outpouring of sadness and frustration and hold space for them but there are also times people are overwhelmed with their concerns and not able to focus on anyone else’s emotional needs other than their own.
The Pressure of Lockdown to support each other
Lockdown has put everyone under pressure at the same time. It is helpful for couples to acknowledge to each other what a roller-coaster of emotions CoVid-19 lockdown has been. It has been a universally tough time.
Gesture and action speak more powerfully than any silver-tongued clever words ever can. If you speak from your heart then what you are communicating is’ heard’ holistically by your partner’s entire being. Kindness is a generosity of spirit and in the domestic setting requires acts of kindness to towards each other to build connection, repair bridges and demonstrate love.
Why time apart is so valuable
Wanting to spend time together is a basic desire for people in a mutually happy relationship. However, other than your honeymoon, the odd bank holiday and annual summer holidays only a few couples ever spend every day together from morning until night. Even at weekends, most couples prefer to do a mix of activities some of them together and some separately. During Covid-19 there was no possibility of distraction from friends or family members who were not part of your permanent household. With all external contact reduced to screen-time meant many couples had to rely on each other for all their social interaction. Many couples navigated this challenging time very well and have emerged from lockdown breathing a sigh of relief that their relationship not only survived but flourished in close proximity to each other. Others, however, found that during their enforced isolation together they had lost their sense of intimacy and excitement of actually being together. They feel as though the gloss and romance of their relationship have been worn down by the hum-drum, week-in-week-out of lockdown.
What we can learn from the Kama Sutra
The Kama Sutra is an ancient Sanskrit book about the philosophy and theory of love. It explains what can trigger desire, and how and what sustains attraction to each other. The Kama Sutra puts emphasis on time apart in preparation for intimate time together. The book mentions bathing rituals and grooming as part of its relationship advice. Post the lockdown it is more about creating a unique change of pace from the rest of the day for you to come together as lovers. That could be putting aside all the WFH (working from home) detritus; shutting off phones and other electronic distractions and just focussing on each other.
Taking time out from each other
For some couples, the ability to be together may require them to spend some time physically apart first. With our current constraints now relaxed it that could mean more than just a solo walk around the block or to the local park. Some couples might need to to see friends separately for a while as a way to recalibrate who they are and how they feel about themselves with so little opportunity to have others validate or question them over the last few months.
Mutually agreeing to the need to socialise apart for a while permits people to mark the difference between Covid-19 time and the return to real-life as we now know it. There will be time to refocus on your main relationship but first consider this: You may need to mark the end of what felt for many like a never-ending stream of wet-Wednesdays first during the lockdown. It could be that having time apart is your first step at coming back together and fully enjoying your relationship’s brand new dawn.
If you feel you’ve lost your way with your relationship during the lockdown and want to explore how you feel with an exit strategy or a way to reconnect then make contact via the link on this page for an obligation-free conversation.
Sally Baker is Senior Therapist, published Author and Speaker in private practice in London for face to face sessions and the world over via the internet.
With almost twenty years of professional experience, she employs cutting-edge therapeutic approaches to help one person at a time to transform their lives.
She has extensive experience working with people to alleviate their anxiety, depression, anger issues, eating disorders as well as conflicts within relationships and the family.
To find out more about Sally Baker, her books and her work visit her website, www.workingonthebody.com