In the best of times, the intimacy between two partners requires a great deal of attention and maintenance. During the recent global pandemic when we all got sent home to isolate with our partners, nurturing our love relationships might have felt downright impossible.
We’ve heard from couples that trying to manage their relationship sometimes felt like two mules drudging through the mud. Yet, much can be learned about one’s partner when we’re required to isolate with them. Even during the difficulties of COVID-19 quarantine life, there were good things that happened to relationships.
Through these experiences, three common themes of self-recognition and gratitude emerged as positive takeaways from this unfavorable year.
#1) A Deeper Understanding of Each Other
Each of us enters a partnership with different thoughts, ideas, belief systems, and behavior patterns when it comes to conflict resolution. The influence of our family of origin is well documented in how we cope with uncomfortable events and challenging times. When faced with resentment, anger, fear, or any negative emotion, some avoid communicating with a desire to escape any conflict at all, while others might over-communicate or impulsively say things they don’t mean.
During a period of isolating together, a couple might be forced to observe their partner’s conflict style over and over again.
In those moments of conflict, some couples who had a very open mind and willingness to grow, stopped to reflect on how they could help their partner communicate in a way that was safe for them.
Being quarantined with someone you care for can help you understand them a great deal. It stands to reason that when we deepen our understanding our partner’s conflict resolution style, our conflicts might lose their power, leading to conflicts that are lesser in frequency, intensity, and duration.
#2) Increase in Distress Tolerance
The extent to which we tolerate uncomfortable, negative, or unwanted thoughts and feelings varies greatly in each of us. Being home together for long periods of time, forced many couples to recognize the patterns that occur in their partner when faced with a difficult time.
It was impossible not to see our beloved going for a walk, exercising, meditating, or engaging (albeit virtually) their social network to help expand their tolerance for stress. For those who struggle to expand their tolerance, disturbed sleeping and/or eating patterns, lack of motivation, binge watching Netflix, overdrinking, and negativity were noted by their partners.
One critical step to increasing distress tolerance is being intimate with someone who is safe. Couples are revealing in couples counseling sessions that early on in the pandemic, they figured this out and enjoyed the benefit of increased intimacy with their partner.
#3) Increase in Gratitude and Attraction
Baking bread, starting a garden, taking art classes, leaning a new language, and new fitness routines are just some of the many endeavors that folks engaged with during the quarantine. The energy felt by having something new and exciting to drive us, can make us more attractive to our partner and increase intimacy.
In many cases, the absence of gaining a new skill or hobby reinforced how confident our partner was before the pandemic and how confident they will be after, making us realize that we love every part of them, especially the part that felt content with who they were in the present moment.
Many couples noted that circumstances did not allow them to learn a new skill or hobby, but they still had increased feelings of gratitude for their partner because they weren’t navigating their circumstance solo. Thus, making gratitude a noteworthy outcome of being together with someone who is witnessing your life with an intimate lens.
It stands to reason that an increase in the way we understand each other’s coping strategies will help to increase empathy and compassion, stopping shame, fear, and anger dead in its tracks. And also, sometimes couples will need the support and knowledge of a professionally trained couples therapist to help maintain intimacy.
Recommended Reading: How To Invite More Intimacy Into Your Life
Did You Miss These Quarantine Relationship Benefits?
Quarantine life certainly isn’t easy. Every couple goes through it differently. We’re happy to see that some couples found a silver lining during these difficult times, and we’re here to help those who didn’t.
If you felt like the stress of COVID-19 and quarantine life weighted heavily on your relationship, we are here to help.
The couples counselors at Loving Life Today have the necessary tools to observe partner communication patterns and coping strategies, allowing a third party to help move the needle on less than ideal intimacy issues.
To see if couples counseling could help you and your partner regain and strengthen your love, call us at (813) 609-6946 or schedule your couples intake today. Or, learn more about how couples counseling works by downloading our Couples Therapy Welcome Packet.