Lockdown Love-In Or COVIDivorce?
With lockdown becoming the new norm in the UK, there has been a significant focus on working from home and becoming a parent-teacher. But, what is happening to relationships? Lawyers in the UK are preparing for a spike in divorce rates. At the same time, sales of sex toys, condoms and lingerie are booming with Ann Summers reporting a 27% sales increase during the lockdown. So, is lockdown a love-in or a love-out for you?
Why Is Lockdown Increasing Sex And Frustration?
For most relationships, this period of togetherness is something that hasn’t been experienced before. In many lockdown situations, it is the one exercise per day or weekly trip for essentials that is the only time when someone can have a break from their partner.
Consequently, this togetherness can cause cabin fever. This cabin fever needs an outlet, and as you can’t go outside to vent, this outlet will likely come from your passion – whether that is to argue, have sex, or both!
The additional stress and anxiety this situation is causing mean it is completely normal that your partner may be getting on your nerves. You may also find that normal activities now cause friction and conflict.
On the other hand, you and your partner may have enjoyed the novelty of this time together. You may be making the most of it in the bedroom (or elsewhere in your home!). However, as lockdown persists, sexual novelty can wear off.
However, there are steps you can take to manage both aspects of your relationship. This week, I look into the best practices you can implement to keep your love and attraction to each other alive during the lockdown, while also managing any arguments and negativity that can occur too.
How To Improve Your Relationship During Lockdown
If you are lucky enough to have space in your home where each of you can have your own area, then this is a great start. However much you love each other, everyone needs their own space where they can work, relax and be with their own thoughts.
You can make spatial boundaries work for you. It could be that you each have your own space to work during the day then come together in a mutual space in the evenings. You may want an evening alone, and that’s ok. But rather than sneaking or storming off, it will create a much more relaxing atmosphere if you explain to your partner that this is what your mental health needs right now.
If you don’t have a physical space to call your own, then look for ways you can enjoy your solitude such as a relaxing bath or simply having your headphones on and zoning out. Maybe you can watch different movies alone together?
This time alone can help to bring you both together again as your time away means you have something new to discuss – even if that’s just talking about the film you watched or music you listened to.
Set A Date Night
While you cannot go out for date night, you can still have fun at home. It could be that you set aside one evening where you order a takeaway or perhaps cook a fancier meal than you usually have. However, you can make your at-home date night as wild as you want. Lockdown means nothing is normal or everything is now normal, depending on how you want to look at it. So, take this time to do something really crazy together for your date night.
As long as both of you are happy and willing, then, you can let your imagination run wild. Maybe you’ll set up indoor bowling wearing your wedding outfits? Perhaps a cosplay movie night in fancy dress? Body painting? Strip-scrabble? Find fun and sexy ways to stave off your boredom and reignite a spark in your relationship.
If you’re struggling to talk about sex with your partner, then read this post.
Avoid These Four Communication Red Flags
Psychologists regularly refer to four specific communication problems in a relationship as the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’. If you don’t address these four issues, then it can easily lead to the dissolution of the relationship. Unfortunately, in lockdown, it is more likely these problems will arise. These four issues are;
- Criticism – Lockdown may mean you don’t want to argue so instead you bottle up resentment which can lead you to criticise your partner’s character rather than having a complaint about one issue. Common occurrences will be ‘you NEVER listen’ or ‘you ALWAYS forget’.
- Stonewalling – With too much time together, and feeling upset, you may be doing all you can to avoid interacting with your partner. Instead, you may show through your negative body language that you do not want to communicate, rather than clearing the air.
- Contempt – Sarcasm and eye-rolling are big ways that you can show contempt without resolving the issue. This could also manifest in not actually listening to your partner, instead thinking; ‘here we go again’ when they raise an issue, which can be very disrespectful.
- Defensiveness – If you see an issue as black and white, you may see it as ‘I am right, and they are wrong’ which can lead you to be defensive. You may also use this as a retaliation against personal criticism. With this, you’ll blame your partner and their actions for causing you pain, rather than addressing your own part to play, or the reason you are reacting this way.
Recognise And Rectify
If you recognise these issues, then it is time to sit down calmly together and work on finding solutions. Accept the fault that both of you had to play in the issue and work out the best ways you can move forward. Remember to focus on your own feelings and actions using ‘I’ statements rather than ‘you’.
This may seem obvious, but during a distressing time means it is easier to lose track of how you’re treating others because you are thinking about your own concerns. Consequently, it is important to be mindful of how you are treating your partner and making sure you are respectful. For example,
- Do you listen to your partner’s feelings and concerns?
- Do you respect their views, even if they oppose your own opinions?
- Are you respectful of all communication with your partner – do you take time to actively listen and give eye contact, or do you still have one eye on something else?
- Do you recognise that being right in an argument with your partner is the wrong goal to aim for? Winning the argument should never be the aim, resolving the conflict in the best way possible should only ever be the goal.
- Are you and your partner part of the same conversation? It can be easy to have to parallel conversations where you focus on getting your own point across, but this is not effective if neither of you is actually listening to each other.
Tip: Use active listening during a conversation to show your understanding. When your partner has made their point, respectfully paraphrase what you have heard and understood back to them, to make sure you are both on the same lines.
Increase Your Trust
If you’re feeling disconnected with your partner, perhaps you’re struggling to move on past an argument or simply want to restore intimacy, then this eye-gazing exercise is a great way to bring couples together, despite any adversities.
The practice is simple. You just have to sit quietly, gazing into each other’s eyes for a full three minutes (go for longer if you can!).
This exercise works by releasing the chemical, oxytocin, in the body, which is known for its ability to make us feel trust, love and a bond with the other person.
Did you know that couples in love, make eye contact 75% of the time? These people also report feeling more positive about themselves and their partner. So, to restore intimacy in your relationship and feel better about yourself, this exercise is a great place to start.
Another intimacy exercise you can also try is to sync your breath with your partner. This is a meditative exercise that can work as you focus your attention on each other, creating a powerful intimacy between you both.
Does Your Relationship Need More Help?
I am currently offering bespoke virtual therapy plans covering a range of issues such as relationships, anxiety, confidence and addiction. Using Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp, I can offer personal therapy for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home; all of this is followed up with email support and online resources. If you’re struggling with relationship problems, now is the perfect time to address them. Drop me a line at email@example.com to schedule your first free consultation.