You can still keep the fire of your romance burning as a married couple irrespective of the coronavirus pandemic which has called for the enforcement of social distancing principle and other health precautions to be taken to avoid spreading the novel virus.
Whether you have been together for a handful of months or several decades, it is far too easy to get swept up in the daily ins and outs of life. This becomes even more difficult when faced with the stark uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, when the attention and energy you’d otherwise give to your relationship is easily directed elsewhere.
As verywell mind put it, while it is not a bad thing to lean into the comfort of an established relationship and some sense of routine during this time, keeping that spark of romance ever-present bodes well for your emotional and physical connection, as well as your mental health. Below are four specific ways you can do just that.
Commit small gestures of love
“Relationship research has concluded repeatedly that everyday gestures that express fondness and appreciation for your partner are essential to feeling close and connected,” notes Elizabeth Hale-Rose, LCWS for Privé-Swiss Wellness in Connecticut.
“Feeling close and connected is important for all aspects of vibrant partnership. Also, keep in mind that thoughtful gestures are a part of great foreplay.”
Every person is unique regarding the types of gestures they’ll appreciate most, and you know your partner best. Ideas include:
- shooting them a lovey text message in the middle of the workday (Even if you’re only a few feet apart)
- having breakfast ready for them on a weekend morning
- tackling a dreaded chore he or she usually tends to
- delivering a cup of soothing tea to the couch come nightfall
- taking time for little hugs and kisses throughout the day
The increased amount of time you’re spending together provides ample opportunity to make at least one small gesture every day. It will make you feel good to offer these tokens of love, as well.
Check-in with your partner regularly
Even if you know your partner backward and forward and can usually anticipate their every need, we’re all experiencing something we’ve never gone through before. If you’re in the beginning of a relationship or still figuring each other out, it’s also important to step back and check-in with your partner.
The bottom line is that taking the time to specifically ask your partner what they might need from you during this unprecedented time signals your love for them, fosters a romantic connection, and can help you both weather the storm.
“With life running at normal speed it can be difficult to sense your partner’s needs, but under the umbrella of all this chaos it may be impossible if you don’t actually check in with them,” says Dr. Colleen Mullen, Pys.D, LMFT, and author.
“They may look like they are keeping it together and doing well but are just barely staving off a panic attack. They may also look like they are irritated by everything around them, but really, they are scared or worried for their elderly parent.”
Examples of what you might say
- How can I best support you today/right now/in these next months?
- It looks like you’ve been handling all of this really well, but I just wanted to check in with you to make sure.
- Do you want to talk about anything you’re feeling right now? If not now, maybe later?
You can also take this time to share your own concerns or needs with your partner. Being vulnerable will help you both remain on the same page, be a figurative and literal shoulder to cry on, and will make it easier to practice empathy even when lashing out or getting on each other’s nerves.
When life really picks up steam, finding the time (or desire) to be physically intimate can become increasingly difficult. Still, physical intimacy is incredibly important to maintaining romance and deep emotional connection with your partner. And this definitely doesn’t have to always mean sex.
Some other ways you might foster a physical connection include the following:
- Snuggling on the couch
- Holding hands on a long walk
- Trading five-minute massages
Simply having conversations about physical intimacy can help spark desire and connection, too. You might find that now is a good time to talk about (and/or satisfy) either other’s fantasies or things you’ve been curious about.
Interestingly, having sex has also been linked to reduction in stress hormones.
Sit down and reminisce together
Looking back at the “good ol’ times” can bring happy memories, make you laugh, and make you remember just how far you two have come together over the months or years.
“Brain research informs us that intentionally recalling good times helps strengthen the neural pathways that support well-being. We know that brains store information through an associative process so, in other words, neurons that fire together wire together,” says Hale-Rose. “Intentionally recalling pleasant, sexy, and fun memories with your partner helps associate the feelings generated by these memories with your partner.”
If your relationship is relatively new, think back to those initial flirty text conversations, your first few days, or funny moments that might have occurred when meeting each other’s families or friends.
If you’re in a more established relationship, go ahead and crack open an old photo album or your Facebook photo reel, look through old cards or mementos, or simply sit face to face recalling hilarious or heartwarming memories.
Plan full-blown date nights
We’re clearly sending quantity time with our partners through the coronavirus pandemic, but also make sure you’re taking moments to spend quality time together.
“It is so important to spend quality time with your partner during this stay at home order. You may have dinner every night with your partner while staying in, but date night is about connecting and escaping life stressors,” says Dr. Mullan.
“The kicker on this is that, of course, date night is still within the same four walls non-date nights take place, so it will take some creativity to change the set up.”
Maybe that means transforming the dining room into a white-linen, candlelit space, pushing the furniture out of the living room to create a dance floor, or setting up an indoor picnic complete with basket and checkered blanket. Movie nights are OK, but also make sure you’re planning events where you can truly engage.
Whatever your date night might entail, Dr. Mullan says to focus conversations on each other and to do your best to avoid talking about the virus, fears, money, cabin fever, etc. There’s a time and a place for those conversations (you can even proactively allocate time to discuss these topics) but the purpose of date night is to fall into each other.
A word from verywell
Relationships will certainly be tested over the next few months. Not just because you’ll be spending every waking moment with your partner, but because a global catastrophe of this scale can weigh heavily on each of you and in faceted ways.
Now, more than ever is a time to face toward each other to foster closeness. Sure, hiccups and arguments are to be expected, but as long as you both work toward the same goal of coming out on the other end closer than you’ve ever been before, that is what matters most of all.