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COVID & Couples: Coping When You’re Home All the Time With Your Partner and Family

It takes work for couples to keep the spark of romance alive under typical circumstances -- and we’re far from living in “normal” times. All the quarantine, shut-downs, remote schooling, and remote work has forced a lot more “family togetherness” than usual.

How do you maintain your relationship, keep intimacy alive, and still function amid all this turmoil and stress? Here are three tips you can use:

1. Put Some Limits on Your Workday

There are benefits to working at home, but people often struggle to find a good balance between their work life and home life. It’s easy to lose yourself in your work, especially when you’re looking for some sense of control over your situation. However, there’s not a lot of room for romance or connection when there is a laptop propped up between you.

Communication is key. Talk to your spouse about carving out a routine that will give everyone in the house a much-needed sense of balance and create room for intimacy. That may mean something specific like wrapping up work by dinner or instituting a “no electronics” rule after 9 at night, or something more fluid such as setting the intention for coming together at some point in the day, whether it is at the start or by the end of the day, with a walk, glass of wine, or hug.

2. Be Intentional About Your Togetherness

We can’t expect intimacy to just happen, especially when there’s a lot of disruption and stress in everyday life. Plan a few date nights, even if “all you can do” (right now) is share some cookies and a glass of wine with your partner after the kids go to bed. It is the intention that is important – carving out some time to show your partner you see them and they matter to you.

While you’re alone, invest in the idea that you never really know what your partner is thinking or feeling unless you ask. Showing that you’re curious about your partner’s experiences, goals, and desires will show that you care and help strengthen your connections.

3. Use Your Imagination to Find Something New

You may be stuck in the house most of the time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways to keep things fresh. Dress up for your date night (even if you aren’t leaving the house), put on music and dance together in the living room, play a game of strip poker, or try a new recipe together.

By working to create small moments of joy together, you can break out of your rut and deepen your bonds with your partner.

It is important to validate for yourself that this is a challenging time. Recognize your suffering and give yourself extra love and healing for this suffering. Remember: hope over toxic positivity. Don’t tell yourself to “just get over it” or “just be happy,” rather, connect with hope and remind yourself that these difficult days will eventually pass -- and use them as an opportunity to spend more time engaging with yourself and your partner in an intentional way.

If you’re looking for an AASECT-Certified and sex-positive therapist in San Diego or virtual sessions online, I would love to help you on your journey to sexual health and wellness.

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