Home with all the kids, home with your spouse, ideally a great time to reconnect. Right? Hmm, not so much. Unexpected time together, worry of the pandemic, being isolated physically and socially, being faced with family members character traits (the pleasant ones and the not so pleasant ones) 24/7, ongoing mess in the house, can really take its toll, especially in the relationship with your spouse.
How do you "do" marital relationships in times of Corona?
Let me share with you a four step "time model" that could be helpful to recharge and reconnect in those turbulent times.
1. Couples Time
Set a daily time that you enjoy a date together, when the kids are asleep (or those of you who have teenagers, you tell them to find some activity to do in their rooms, because mom and dad are having quality time). This could be cooking something together, going out to the balcony (if you have one) and make each other a cup of tea, play a game and the like. Make sure not to speak about Corona news. Speak about memories (remember that trip we took, how our wedding looked like, when we celebrated our anniversary, look at pictures together), about feelings (how did your day go, what did you like, what didn’t you like, what would you have wished for), about future dreams, (when we can all go out again, what is something you would like to do, how do you envision our Pesach). Even if this only takes 20 min, make sure you don’t look at a screen, but look at each other, and interact. To have that island of connection, and recharge.
2. Personal Time
In order to recharge your battery, and to be able to be there for and with the people around you, you need some alone time. Agree on an hour each day that you both have that quality time with yourself. Choose a room that no one needs to enter in that hour, your spouse will watch or be with the kids, and you can do whatever you like. Read something, watch something, work a bit, doodle, draw, listen to music, clean up your nightstand, take a long shower, whatever you fancy.
3. Intimate Time
Jokes go around that a baby boom can be expected when everyone is locked up in their homes. The opposite is true. What we see in our history of global crises, is that baby booms actually take place after the stress is over. Stress affects our whole system, including the reproductive system. Our hormonal system is also affected, and we have a harder time calming down, and releasing oxytocin, which is our super hormone in terms of intimacy. Make sure that you have date nights as well (now is, for most couples, not the time to be spontaneous. Pre-scheduled intimate dates can give that calmness and anticipation, instead of being worried about when to also engage in intimacy, in times like these). At these date nights, when kids are sleeping and the door is locked, be playful with your intimacy. Now is the time to give more attention to affection, cuddling, hugging, massages. Physical touch you can give each other to have these moments of calmness, connection and to give room for oxytocin to flow. Everything is different in these times, don’t expect yourselves to continue your intimate life as you knew it. Be curious and open to finding new ways of intimacy that can be comforting, playful, and calming. For observant Jews, even in the time of the month when physical touch isn’t applicable, step 3 is still part of a spousal relationship. The difference between step 1 and 3 is the location, and quiet time in the evening when you are both winding down and can give each other some words of appreciation with a warm blessing to a good night.
With a heartfelt prayer to a refuat hanefesh and refuat haguf to all those in need.
Individual, Couples and Intimacy Counselor
Based on couples’ "Time model" and teachings from Gila Bronner, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.