On Instagram Stories recently, we asked you about your love life. Namely, how’s it actually going right now? For those coupled up, are you loving all this newfound together time, or are you considering separate bedrooms? What we heard was things are…okay?! But, you could use some tips on how to improve your relationship during quarantine, so you come out of all this a stronger, healthier couple.
Thankfully, Team SG is up to the task!
Below, 5 ways to improve your relationship coming out of quarantine:
1. Commit to your own mental health
If you’re lucky enough to be quarantined with a romantic partner, it may feel like you don’t “deserve” to feel lonely or alone or depressed during this time.
If you’ve been in your head during all this, and feeling like you’re really going through it, maybe it’s time to talk to someone!
Yes, you can and should talk to your partner about your feelings (we’ll get to that later), but right now, I’m talking about calling in reinforcements.
Working with a therapist will help you communicate more openly and honestly and empathetically WITH your partner. And, you get to vent about aLL yOuR StUfF to someone who’s paid to sit there and listen.
The best part? You can work on this relationship level-upper all on your own.
In fact, you don’t even have to share your mental health practice with anyone if you don’t want to! In New York, mentioning your shrink at least once a day is required by law (don’t factcheck that), but I get some people are less open about this kind of thing.
If you want to wait until you can meet with a therapist in person, go ahead, but this could be a good time to ‘date around’ when it comes to finding someone you like and connect with.
Especially if you’re new to therapy, the one-on-one, in-person interaction can feel uncomfortable at first (What do I do with my hands? Where do I look?!).
Instead, a few easy-breezy, low-stakes phone conversations could be just what you need to pop your therapy cherry (cherrapy? Sorry).
Not ready to take the leap into therapy but still interested in adopting a mental health practice to help improve your relationship?
Consider a smaller, solo ritual, like a daily mindfulness or meditation practice, which can provide peace of mind on the reg.
Headspace is even offering a free year-long membership to any Americans facing unemployment due to the covid crisis.
2. Get active
Committing to your mental health is important; so is committing to your physical health. Because staying active, during quarantine and well after, also helps you stay sane. And staying sane is pretty key to a healthy relationship!
The legal scholar Elle Woods put it best when she said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”
Hopefully, your government-mandated together time isn’t inspiring any Tiger King fantasies, but you’ll both definitely be more inclined to work through arguments in a loving way if you don’t feel like an exotic animal cooped up in a cage.
Get out for walks (alone or together, up to you. I know I personally miss my commutes where I can catch up on my “stories” aka, podcasts).
Take up an at-home workout routine.
Just get those endorphins flowing.
There’s an app for that: Aaptiv has great audio-based workouts, from yoga to strength training to race training.
3. Get vulnerable in the bedroom
It’s interesting. What we heard from a lot of guys on Instagram is that right now they’re not really feeling all that up to get down during quarantine.
Which actually makes a lot of sense. You’re around each other all the f*cking time. If you have kids, you’re probably exhausted by the time ‘school’ is out (which is…what these days, noon?), so it’s no surprise your romantic life may have taken a nose dive.
But the last thing you want is to go into quarantine with a romantic partner and come out with a roommate.
Meaning? You’ve gotta prioritize getting freaky.
If you haven’t experimented with sex toys in the bedroom, now could be the time.
Dame Products founder and CEO Alexandra Fine says, “There’s a myth that if you’re not responsible for every single one of your partner’s pleasurable sensations during sex, you are ‘not good at sex.’ This is false. Being ‘good at sex’ is about honoring your partner’s pleasure and giving them every opportunity to feel good–––which might include using sex toys!”
And don’t worry, a toy won’t replace you.
“Sex with a partner is so many things, and the physical sensations are just one part. A motor can’t take the place of intimate touch and human connection; it can only enhance it. Try to reframe sex toys as an exciting addition that you’re exploring together, rather than a replacement.”
There’s an app for that: Ready to dive in? Take Dame’s quiz to find the perfect toy for you to try. Hot tip: take the quiz together. It’ll be like foreplay that includes a shipping delivery window.
4. Talk about the big stuff
I am obsessed with The Savage Lovecast, sex and relationship columnist Dan Savage’s weekly podcast. I’ve gotten particularly good at guessing when he’ll answer a caller’s question with one of his signature responses.
One is “DTMFA” which is an acronym for “Dump the motherf*cker already.” Think: questions from listeners that sound like their significant other is a perfect candidate for Reddit’s AITA.
The other is some form of “Have you said this to your partner?”
It’s wild what people will share with their close friends, or a family member, or a podcast host, about the inner workings of their relationship but won’t bring up to the person they’re actually in the relationship with.
Which is…not great! No, you don’t have to talk with your partner about every single thing that bothers you or that goes through your head, but the big stuff that keeps you up at night? Or the small stuff that bothers you in a way that could make it big stuff down the road? Talk that out.
Need a place to start? Try “How are you, really?”, a deceptively simple question that designer Kenneth Cole is encouraging people to use during quarantine to de-stigmatize talking about mental health issues.
What about if nothing in particular is wrong, but you’ve run out of things to talk about at the dinner table?
After all, “How was your day?” sort of loses all meaning when you’ve been working side by side at the kitchen table since 8am.
To improve your relationship, try a game like Table Topics or Actually Curious to get the ball rolling. Yes, you might feel silly engaging in what’s essentially icebreaker games with the person who knows where that third nipple on your back is, but just try it!
You’ll be surprised at the deep and interesting conversations you can find yourself in with a from-left-field prompt like, “Whose parents did you wish you had growing up?” or “What’s missing from the current standardized academic curriculum?”
There’s an app for that: Party Q’s
5. Listen. No, like, really listen.
This story is probably going to get me on some kind of government watch list, but I think a lot about some really good relationship advice in the Scientology tell-all, Going Clear.
In the book, a former member wistfully recounts the positive effects of the church on her relationship. Namely, how she and her husband learned never to interrupt one another. They’d always wait for the other to finish speaking, instead of cutting one another off.
The stuff like indentured servitude and shunning antidepressants in favor of positive thinking? Not so great. But committing to listening to your partner? I mean, my guy Tom Cruise is onto something there (even if he has been divorced three times).
My point: If your lady wants to blow off steam about a co-worker’s passive-aggressive Slack messages, put down your phone and really listen. Look her in the eyes. Nod your head. Process what she’s saying.
Don’t interrupt. Don’t even give advice unless she asks for it. Just…listen.
Bottom line? With quarantine, we’re all maxed out on screens anyway, so skip the Facetime in favor of some face time (sorry, I’m trying to delete it).