It may feel these days as though you and your partner are ready to rip each other apart as we are all quarantined in our homes. This is NORMAL. Here is my survival guide on how to remain sane and loving with each other in close quarters.
1. Remind yourself that this quarantine is only temporary
While it feels as though the quarantine is never ending, we must remind ourselves that this too shall pass. Nothing is really permanent, and the same goes for the current state of affairs. We all have been through adversity, and challenges that have tested our resiliency, and this time period is no different. At some point in the future we will all have the capacity to go outside, socialize, and resume our normal routine outside of quarantine. My typical recommendation is to just take things 1 hour at a time. Sometimes even 5 minutes at a time works as well. Ask yourself the question, “Can I get through the next 5 minutes?” If the answer is yes, ask yourself “Ok, what can I do to support myself in getting through the next 5 minutes?” And do that. Make sure you repeat. 5 minutes turns into 10 minutes, which then turns into 30 minutes and so forth. You’ll find that if you break things up into small manageable goals, that they are totally doable.
2. Create a healthy balance for space and closeness
Spending 24/7 with someone is not the ideal for many, and also quite out of our norm. Spending too much time with your partner can be hard and at times we all need our own space for our self care, for our jobs, and for general sanity. That’s why I typically welcome that couples schedule individual time for themselves, and schedule relationship time with each other. This will be a saving grace for many of you. You can even identify the breaks in schedules as blocks for work, blocks for self care, blocks for chores, and then blocks for relationship date nights. I may word it as, “I enjoy spending time together. I do also really value time that I can complete my work, and have some me time. Let’s create a schedule where we each have time to take care of our own things, and also time to come together and enjoy quality time.”
3. Create Date Nights at Home and celebrate important moments and milestones
This is going to be so important for both of you! If you’re someone like me, perhaps the first week of quarantine you succumbed to wearing pajamas all week. And while it was fun at first, it can start to get old. We have to feel like we humans again, LOL. So yes, I encourage you both to schedule a date night, dress up, wear some makeup, cook a nice dinner, or get some takeout, and enjoy your favorite movie together. While this may feel odd to dress up to go to your kitchen, but it will feel special to actually get up, dress well, and spend a special date night with your loved one.
Please DO celebrate special moments. If your anniversary, birthday, or other special event falls during the quarantine please celebrate with each other. Our birthdays are still special even during this difficult time so I highly recommend that we continue to enjoy these special moments together. You can review old photos of the two of you and your dating history. You can share what each of you are grateful for with one another. You both can also cook a special meal together. Create meaning with each other even through this challenging time.
4. Continue to be intimate and have sex
Sex is good for the body and the immune system. It releases Dopamine and Oxycontin, the pleasure and bonding hormones. Doctors are recommending to keep our immune systems up and healthy sex is great for the immune system. So continue to:
Express Gratitude for what you love about your partner
Utilize masturbation and self-pleasure individually or together, as long as it is within the confines of your relationship boundaries
Explore your fantasies with each other
Share your desires and turn ons
Provide massages to each other
5. Up your self care and self soothing
It can be as simple as going for a walk, or doing 5 minutes of deep breathing. We want to do this to avoid being snarky or rude to our partners. This may also look like waking up an hour earlier before your partner to savor some quiet time, and to do some of your own self care. It can also include limiting your news intake, or avoiding the news during certain times of day. When you’re feeling triggered or anxious, try putting your hand on your own heart and state a positive affirmation like, “I’m doing the best that I can and that’s good enough.”
6. Share your fears/needs/concerns
While we all are recommended to follow the CDC guidelines for safety, there are varying degrees to how diligent we are with those guidelines. If you find yourself angry at your partner for washing their hands for 10 seconds versus the recommended 20 seconds, be open and honest about your fears and concerns without criticism. John Gottman, PhD., relationship expert and psychologist, reports it’s important to share our needs and feelings without criticizing the other. For example, we want to avoid, “You didn’t wash your hands enough.” Replace this with, “I’m concerned about your safety and would really love it if you washed for 20 seconds.”
For individual or couples counseling support throughout this quarantine, reach out to Janet Bayramyan, LCSW via our website at https://www.caringtherapistsofbroward.com/bvsd/janet-bayramyan/
Janet is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states of California (LCSW88575) and Florida (SW16210). Working from a trauma focused perspective, she is committed to supporting individuals and couples through their healing of past and current distressing events. She is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Havening Techniques. She is also certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.