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How to reconnect in a relationship during a lockdown?

Dernière mise à jour : 25 avr. 2021



During my coaching sessions I am quite often asked the following questions:

  • How do we connect?

  • Do we need to connect at all?

  • Is love about connecting and intimacy?

Lots of couples experience a lack of connection which is intensified by the situation of lockdown.


Esther Perel, a famous couple therapist, states: "Crisis exacerbates existing tensions—within our society, and within our partnerships. If we felt alone in a relationship before, this year has revealed new depths of that loneliness."


According to John Gottman, most people fight over the lack of connection in a relationship. No matter the subject of the fight - money, sex, in-laws, education, etc. - what we crave and look for in a conflict is CONNECTION.


To answer the questions above, yes, connection is important and love is about connecting and intimacy. We are social beings and we feel a need to connect, exchange, and share. We crave proximity and intimacy. I like the word ‘attunement’, too. It sounds like two people are dancing together and mirroring one another, completely in sync.


We realize we need to be connected when we miss it the most. The need for connecting and reconnecting comes from the LONELINESS we experience being both, single or in a relationship.


When loneliness appears in a couple it is experienced in a variety of situations.


1. Communication


We avoid difficult conversations to avoid conflict; very often, because we tried before and it didn't have a constructive outcome.

Or, we do the opposite, we fight openly more often as a way to ventilate our emotions and stress; as we didn't learn a better way to do so.

We are not willing to reach a compromise.

We don't listen to each other.

We don't bother with empathy.

The communication mistakes appear more often: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling, blaming, manipulation, silent treatment, threatening.


2. Time spent together


There have been both tendencies observed; either we tend to spend time separately almost avoiding each other, or, we tend to do everything together.

While not going outside the house a certain discipline and consciousness have disappeared. We did not replace the old way - before lockdown - spending time together with a new way considering limited possibilities.

Screen time has increased, social media replaced the absence of an authentic exchange.


3. Intimacy


We don't make any effort to connect physically - it can be touch, hug, or sexual connection.

We don't cultivate seduction and desire.

Playfulness and spontaneity disappeared.


Why is that?


There are a few reasons. First of all, we haven't really be taught the relationship competencies and very few of us witnessed a functional relationship in our childhood.


Communication, conflict management, and change management have been always challenging for most couples.


With the situation of a lockdown, there has been put a supplementary strain on relationships due to the overall stress and fear. A couple has to be able to demonstrate all the above competencies under difficult circumstances; and, unprepared.


Dealing with change in the situation of lockdown


With the lockdown and Covid restrictions, we have to face a new situation: working from home, homeschooling kids, lack of social support, and social connection, the distance for some. The pandemic creates overall stress and fear. We worry for our family and friends, and we don't know what the future brings. We cannot make plans and look forward to something. There has been a new split in responsibilities when running a family.

We cannot rely on external help and social support the same way we used to do.

Each of us adopted our own way of dealing with the stress and fears and sometimes we forget to involve our partner which creates a feeling of loneliness.

The differences within a couple have become even more visible.

The difference in dealing with the change, the difference in our values and personalities is even more visible in the situation of a lockdown. Very often each person in a couple makes different decisions about how to deal with the restrictions, how to deal with the priorities, and how to keep going at all. The inability to change together increases the feeling of loneliness in a couple.



How to reconnect?


Overall, there are different ways of connecting and expressing love, depending on our perception of being loved. Different people experience differently the feeling of love. According to the "5 love languages" of Gary Chapman there are 5 types of love connection:

  • Receiving Gifts;

  • Acts of Service;

  • Words of Affirmation;

  • Quality Time; and,

  • Physical Touch:

All of them are equally important. Knowing what type of language your partner understands makes connecting much easier and much better received. Find out which love language your partner prefers.


In a situation of a lockdown we have to focus more on connecting intentionally, it means:


1) Communication


Take time to listen to each other. To do that split clearly the time between work, children, housework, and your partner.


Learn to communicate - start with your own feelings; be open about your needs and formulate clear demands (Non-violent communication). Use "I" statements.


Avoid communication mistakes.


Manage your emotions.


Make a proof of empathy. No need to agree, give advice, or add. Just resonate.

Be aware of each other's differences. Instead of being right, BE CURIOUS.

Prefer asking over fighting.


2) Time spent together


Organise consciously your time even if you don't have to leave the home. Include moments you spend on your own, as well as the moments you spend together depending on your needs.


Use your creativity to find new routines. Upgrade your old routines to special moments, for example, the time spent around the meals. Let yourself be influenced by your partner.


Instead of going to your favourite restaurants, bars, cafés,...identify your favourite places in the house and outside the house. Your favourite walks, places with a view, places you used to go when....Make a picnic outside, even if it is in your garden or on your balcony.


Learn about the history of the place you live. It will help to contribute to the feeling of "belonging."


Spend as much as the time you can outside. Expose yourself to light, sunshine, and fresh air. It will contribute to a good mood and you will be a better company for your family.


Engage in creative activities - sing, dance, paint, write, cook...together.


Be aware of the screen time and the message the social media give.


3) Intimacy


Identify opportunities to recharge your batteries so you can be attractive to your partner. There is nothing more "sexy" than a radiant person.


Connect to your needs first.


Book moments together and make intimate moments a priority.


Make space for romance - nice music, candles, bath,...


Cultivate creative energy and playfulness.


Initiate the physical contact.


The is not only sex in its narrow meaning, there is also touch, kiss, hug.


The foreplay doesn't start two minutes before.

Your relationship will only work if you make a priority out of it.

A lockdown situation is a perfect opportunity to spend your time learning the relationship competencies.


Intimate Relationship Competencies


There are few underlying qualities that help to connect deeply, authentically, and intimately:

- vulnerability;

- authenticity;

- emotional awareness.


Vulnerability


Showing up vulnerable is being open about your weaknesses, imperfection, and awkwardness.


Why is it difficult to be vulnerable? As a child, it is very natural to be vulnerable and it is in fact very cute. While growing up we are shaped into someone who corresponds to our parents' expectations and we are shaped according to some social standards of conformity and normality. Sadly enough, while growing up we start losing our identity and security.


When we become adults and don't have to rely on our parents' expectations we have to find that lost self-awareness and reassurance to open up again. It has to do a lot with self-acceptance, self-love and the beliefs we have about ourselves and about life.


Once we accept that the imperfection is human; once we know that "we are good enough" we can show up vulnerable again.

Authenticity


By manifesting our vulnerability we are simultaneously showing authenticity. According to Briana MacWilliam, this works as an invitation. We uncover our values, beliefs, experiences, and emotions to our partner, and we invite the other person to do the same.


They might reciprocate and accept the invitation – but they do not have to. Not everyone is ready to open up, each for different reasons. Some have not learned it yet, others have been hurt and fear being abandoned; some take it as a weakness, and many just need more time. Knowing this, we might be disappointed but never insist – eventually, we resend the invitation.


Being vulnerable is like being the purest version of ourselves.

Emotional awareness


Connecting to own emotions is one of the keys to connect to others. Starting a discussion based on our own feelings is proof of self-awareness and our ability to link up with our inner world. By identifying our emotions, we cannot offend the partner we want to have a conversation with. At the same time, by receiving the emotions of our partner and not taking them personally we exhibit empathy.

An emotion is like a piece of information.


The emotional intimacy comes before physical intimacy.

We cannot be on two different pages, such as feeling distant yet connecting physically at the same time. Also, very often when we talk about infidelity, it has nothing to do with physicality – rather, it is about a lack of emotional intimacy. The disloyal partner often looks for emotional closeness outside of the relationship, not sex.

By intentionally focusing on our couple and making a priority of it we take advantage of a period of lockdown to learn and bring our love relationship to a next level.

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  • How do you feel about your couple today?

  • Has the coronavirus pandemic had an impact on your couple?

  • Have you found new routines and ways to connect better?

Leave a comment below.



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