This month my husband and I are celebrating our 22nd wedding anniversary. I’ve written about relationships and marriage before, but after a year of lockdown love, where the dynamic of most of our relationships have shifted or even hit rock bottom, today I feel far more equipped to give you a peek into my marriage and share this with you.
I gotta say, this month I have a helluva lot to celebrate. Primarily, and for starters, we survived 2020 and are still married. The challenges we’ve been through personally and collectively this year have made me particularly insightful, reflective and optimistic of the days ahead. So if you’re currently just surviving and not thriving, you’ve still accomplished a great feat. Divorce rates have skyrocketed 34% higher during the pandemic and people are unhappier in love than ever before. I got curious and candidly spoke to everyone I know about their relationships. Here is what my conversations uncovered:
The Problem: Proximity
Most of us used to have time alone. We’d each go to work or go about our daily errands and responsibilities and then come together at the end of the day. Sure, daily life looks different for all of us, but we all used to have some sort of solo time to be independent. Lockdown has often made couples just a tad too close for comfort.
The Solution: Find Moments of Alone Time
Try waking up 2 hours earlier or going to bed later for some you-time. If you need a break during the day, go on walks and do the grocery shopping to get and give some space. Be sure to designate areas that are meant for work while at home and communicate beforehand especially when hopping on important meetings and calls. If you’re feeling claustrophobic, communicate your need for space and use this challenge as an opportunity to get to know and honor each other more deeply.
The Problem: Boredom
One of the things all of us crave is adventure. We crave surprises and relish in new opportunities. That’s why we all (used to!) love to travel. Boredom is a romance killer and it’s been prevalent during lockdown with nowhere to go and not a lot to do.
Solution: Spice things up!
Just because you can’t date like you used doesn’t mean it can’t still be great! Plan a date-night at home where you and your partner get dressed up, cook a romantic meal, or take turns surprising each other with a new kind of date every week. You might whip up a drink and meet on the balcony alone or serve a candlelight picnic on the floor of your bedroom. There are also plenty of safe ways to get out together. Take on a new outdoor sport or take an online class-do something new together. My husband also grew a beard and its been fun getting to know my new bearded man! Here are some of my favorite romantic recipes to cook with and spice up a partner and spice up the day:
The Problem: Lack of Romance
Boredom and too much togetherness often lead to a lack of romance. If the sparks have dulled in your love life its up to you to fire things back up! If your partner feels more like your roommate than your love mate, read on.
Solution: Bring Sexy Back
Does your love life need a makeover? Pause to remember why you fell in love with your significant other in the first place. Spice things up with a little romance this Valentine’s season with a date night but don’t just stop there. Put on that sexy dress, slip on the heels and make yourself feel sexy. I’ve been wearing oversize pajamas for 8 months and the other day I realized that my comfy is killing the sexy! Grab that lingerie that’s been accumulating lockdown dust! Set the stage with romantic ambiance and step up your flirting game. Romantic desserts for a sultry evening can be fun too. Turn up the heat with my romantic desert recipes:
The Problem: An Uncertain World
In a world where the future is more unknown than ever, we all bring different levels of stress and fear to our relationship. Even if only one of you is stressed you’re probably affecting your partner and everyone around you.
Solutions: Remember You are Human
Watch for triggers and take responsibility and accountability for the stress you feel. I’ve had to severely reduce my level of news and social media consumption because of how anxious it made me. Communicate with your partner when one of you is struggling emotionally and let them know you may need some space or someone to talk to. If you are feeling particularly down, its sometimes useful to phone a friend instead of dumping all your worries on your partner. Once you vent, you’ll feel better. And of course, consider adopting a meditation and a yoga practice that will reduce cortisol levels and make you feel more grounded. Try these yoga moves to de-stress:
The Problem: Blurred Turf
Most of us don’t parent and co-pilot every element of our families lives. In a healthy and functioning family, we generally assign roles and responsibilities for optimal functioning. One parent is more of the disciplinarian, one partner makes more of the meals etc. In lockdown, because we’ve all been at home together, roles often overlap and get blurred leaving you with a whole lot to disagree about.
Solution: Get Mindful and Set Clear Roles
Instead of getting annoyed that your roles have overlapped and shifted, start by noticing whats working and what’s not and get together to mend your issues. Be intentional about responsibilities and respect each other in the process. It’s helpful to create a family schedule and allocate responsibilities so one person doesn’t feel like they are carrying all the burden.
Something to Remember:
A relationship during a year in lockdown feels like 10 years in a non covid world. We have been afforded an opportunity to take a crash-course in learning how to honor each other’s needs, communicate, love differently and grow as a result. Having my husband at home for the first time in our married life was difficult at first but we have turned it into a tremendous gift-one that I will miss if we ever get back to flying around the world again. Once you learn to master a few of these love lessons, imagine how much you two can conquer as a team when life goes back to the way it once was.
Happy Valentine’s Day.