If you’re not feeling very in love with your significant other this Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone.
The current pandemic has been challenging for many couples. With many people working from home and not being able to socialize like they once did, couples are spending more time together than ever before. And that — plus the added stress of having kids home doing remote learning, loss of income, health concerns and differences in risk-tolerance levels — has increased the tension many couples are feeling.
In fact, according to a July 2020 survey from the American Family Survey, 34% of adults age 18 to 55 say that the pandemic has increased stress in their marriage.
But the good news is, couples who are able to navigate these trying times may feel even more connected and bonded by going through this pandemic together.
Isroel Feiler, a mental health counselor at the Center for Holistic Medicine, says, “Although the pandemic has been hard for a lot of people, going through difficult times together can also make marriages stronger. And if couples learn how to communicate effectively, they’ll look back at this pandemic as a wonderful time when they became more intimate with each other.”
Soula Souflakis, LCPC, a counselor at the Center for Holistic Medicine, says almost all relationships can be repaired as long as each member of the couple remembers the love that brought them together in the first place. “While it is common to lose the passion and affection with your partner, the actual love is more challenging to lose. It is there. Couples simply need to put in the work and access it,” she says.
Here are six ideas on how you can feel more connected to your partner during Covid.
- Communicate Your Feelings Every Day
“Communication is a big part of falling in love,” Feiler says. He says usually people start to feel “out of love” with each other when they don’t share with their partner when they feel hurt or angry. Feiler recommends setting aside a time every day to tell your partner how you are feeling. “Don’t be scared to be open with your partner,” he says. “Then you’re not having conversations with your partner in your head all day.”
- Make Love an Action
“Instead of asking yourself why you’re not in love, ask yourself what you can do to get back in love. Give the love you’d like to receive,” Feiler says. Try doing something nice for your partner, such as cooking his or her favorite meal, buying them some flowers, or giving them a special surprise. Often, when we do loving things for others, we find that we feel more love for them in return.
- Engage in 4 Kinds of Intimacy — Emotional, Mental, Spiritual and Physical
Many people assume if they don’t feel physically attracted to their partner, they aren’t in love anymore. But in fact, when you work on connecting with your partner emotionally, mentally and spiritually, you will often feel more physically attracted to each other as well. Souflakis says you need to strive to care about one another’s feelings, respect each other’s beliefs, nurture each other’s inner peace, engage in meaningful conversations and share each other’s interests. “These all foster connection and closeness… which reinforces the hugging, kissing, massages, foreplay and sexual activity,” Souflakis says.
- Be a Better Listener
Learning how to listen effectively to your partner is another key part of building a healthy relationship based on love. Souflakis says it’s important to remember when we argue, it isn’t a war and we don’t need to “win.” Instead, try to learn how to detach from your own feelings and listen to your partner with empathy by reflecting what he or she says and validating his or her feelings. “By doing so, you are not focusing on the behavior or the hurtful act. Instead, the primary focus is on what caused the behavior to be done. Once partners understand why something happened, the anger and the resentment suddenly begin to fade.”
- Spend Quality Time Together
Although couples are spending more time together during the pandemic, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s quality time. After all, just being in the same space while you’re both doing chores or on the phone doesn’t mean you’re connecting. Feiler says making time for our relationship is crucial to feeling in love. “Spend quality time together without electronics,” he says, adding that doing something as simple as playing a board game or taking a walk, just the two of you, can make you feel connected again. “Do the things you used to do when you were in love,” he says.
- Reconnect With Yourself
“Always remember: Before there is a ‘we,’ there’s a ‘me,’” Souflakis says. To have a healthy relationship, Souflakis says it is imperative that both partners maintain aspects of who they were before they met that make them feel like independent, fulfilled people.
“Think back to who you were when you first fell in love. Often times, it is ourselves we miss the most. Try to reconnect with that part of your life. The primary obstacle to love is within us,” Souflakis says.
Feiler agrees. He says taking time to do things that make you happy and maintaining friendships with your own friends will help you put less pressure on your relationship, so you stop expecting your partner to be everything for you. “You’re only going to be as in love with your partner as you are with yourself,” he says.
Coming Up Next Month: Dealing with anxiety, depression, grief and lonliness during Covid.