Five Relationship Strategies for 24/7 Togetherness
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. As businesses, schools, and universities move toward online operations and travel plans get canceled, we are facing massive disruptions to the daily rhythms of our lives. For many couples, togetherness organically alternates with separateness, as they bid farewell to each other in the morning and reconnect in the evening. When this pattern is disrupted, what gets highlighted is how much we rely on cycles of closeness and distance to keep our relationships happy and healthy.
Our romanticized notions of love tell us that if we love each other we should always want to be together. Our lived experiences of love teach us that togetherness and separateness are an inhale and an exhale. They coexist and each enhances the other.
While we (hopefully) relish round-the-clock time with our partners when we are on vacation, this is radically different. It is unplanned and open-ended. Further, it is filled with uncertainty and fear about what lies ahead. Here are five ways to take care of yourself and your intimate relationship during this time of upheaval.
Practice Empathy for Different Coping Strategies
Consider this quote (source unknown): “The first thing you should know about me is that I am not you. A lot more will make sense after that.”
Based on an infinitely complex recipe of gender, temperament, life experiences, family dynamics, and personality, we develop a wide range of responses to stress and uncertainty. The chances that you and your partner will be coping with the pandemic in the same way at the same time are quite slim. Because responses can be plotted on a spectrum from calm to panicked, in any given moment, the calmer partner might say to the more frightened one, “Stop freaking out! You’re being neurotic” and the more concerned partner may fire back, “You don’t get how serious this is! You’re in denial.”
In the best of moments, however, different coping styles can enhance how a couple responds. The more grounded one can bring an element of play and levity, and the more concerned partner can make sure that everyone is doing what needs to be done to stay safe and healthy. When you strive to practice grace in the face of difference, you can capitalize on your varying approaches rather than shaming each other for them.
If you are interested in relationship coaching during the pandemic, contact me to set up a Telehealth appointment.