With almost 5 weeks in lock down so far, we are spending more time with each other than ever.
And while many are loving it, for some, it’s really not been that much fun. Pre – lockdown, if you had relationship issues, they were easily hidden. Hidden either behind work, massive to do lists, or just with keeping yourself busy. You could play the avoidance game – especially if you barely saw each other anyway.
But when you are thrown together 24/7, there is a lot less opportunity to run away from issues. You realize that all that work, and busyness, and coming home late, might have just been a cover up.
That staying constantly on the go, meant you didn’t have to deal with the fact that you and your partner, wife, or husband, have lost your connection. You realize that you feel lonely, even if technically you are not alone.
For many couples the subject of lack of closeness is the elephant in the room, and often communication on the subject is virtually impossible. This is often hidden behind months or years or growing layers of resentment, anger or hurt . You end up constantly bickering, picking at each other, or not talking at all.
And regardless of what is going in the world – we all need love, touch, human contact, intimacy & a feeling of belonging. If anything, in these uncertain times, people need to be close to each other more than ever.
So how do you even start to to resolve things? How do you try and get through this crisis and do it TOGETHER?
And I’m not talking about intimacy necessarily being sex. I’m talking about the feeling of warmth towards each other, that familiarity & closeness. Honesty, authenticity, affection, respect, trust, playfulness – all of those things and more, contribute to great intimacy.
In my Couples training I learned a wonderful acronym for the word TEAM. If you are in a relationship, this is the best thing you can do for yourself – find a way to pull together. Because
I really love that. And having been together with my husband for 20 years, I know a thing or two about being a team (and keeping the intimacy side of things going).
So, let me help you with 6 things you can do to start rebuilding that side of your relationship. And hopefully, re-ignite that spark between you.
1. BE HONEST
If you are constantly bickering, or at each other throats, it is very difficult to suddenly switch into being loving with each other. If you haven’t been intimate for a number of months , or years, you will need to manage your expectations. It took time to let this slip, so it will take time to rebuild.
Be gentle and patient with each other. There is nothing that does the relationship more good than real honesty. Not the “let me tell you why it’s your fault” type of honesty either. Slow down, be brave, and tell your partner what you miss about them, and what you need. Without accusing, without attacking. For most people, the intimate side of their relationship has dwindled for a reason. If there is a root cause of the issue, say it out loud. That’s what needs to be dealt with first. Be prepared for not liking what you hear, but rather than getting defensive – be curious. After all your partner feeling like they do, is not made up. There is a reason why they feel the way they do – and often it’s not even you. Give each other space to talk.
2. STAY WITH IT
Rebuilding intimacy can take time. Don’t judge the process – just because you think this part of your life should be easy, it doesn’t mean that’s actually true. Your partner doesn’t owe you anything, whether you are married or not, and if you think like that then you are heading for disappointment. Great relationships take WORK.
Think of it like going to the gym – when you go regularly, you look and feel great. You build muscle tone, and you feel fit.
If you stop, and over the next year your activity dwindles to nothing – you may put on weight, and you feel sluggish and lethargic. Then, one day you decide to go back to your regular consistent routine. You are suddenly enthusiastic, and you want those results NOW. But there is no instant pay off. You have to work hard for some time, before you are back where you started.
The key is to keep going, and enjoying the process.
3. START SMALL
If that part of you has been dormant for some time, jumping straight into intimacy is probably not going to be likely (although it may work for some!). Intimacy is a connection which opens the doors to sex if nurtured, and looked after.
So break it down. What small steps can you take every day to rebuild your connection? For some people it could be as simple as being nice to each other again.
Here are some suggestions to get you started –
- tell your partner that you appreciate what they do – for you, for the family
- pay your partner an honest compliment
- tell your partner you are proud of them for something (pick something specific)
- thank them for being a good mum or dad ( if applicable)
- try a “slow wake up” when possible. Don’t rush out of bed – take turns in making a coffee, chat about the upcoming day. If you have kids and they are jumping on you, don’t get annoyed, let them snuggle in. Slow down the pace. Connecting as a family is important, just as it is as a couple.
- start doing things without having to be asked
- offer help with things you don’t normally
- laugh more
- give your partner an hour or two off from childcare while you take over ( and actually do something with the kids during that time, that keeps them calm and happy).
- come up to your partner and give them a hug for no reason at all
- pull your partner onto your lap and give them a hug
- come up behind your partner while they are doing something in the kitchen or at their desk & put your arms around them from behind. Plant a little kiss on their neck or nuzzle in.
- Sometimes say ” I love you [insert first name] “, instead of just “love you” in a throw away manner
- grab a kiss when you normally wouldn’t
- generally kiss more – don’t save proper kissing just for “special occasions”
4. STOP MAKING EXCUSES ABOUT TIME
Yes you heard me. When you say “I don’t have time” what that actually means is ” This is not important enough to me”. It’s simply a matter of priorities. If you want to fix this, schedule in the time – simple as that. This is just time for the two of you – so if you have children in the house, it may mean when they go to bed.
Yes you may be knackered after a whole day with them, but remember we are not talking specifically about sex here. This is just TIME that you spend together with your partner, without the phone, laptop, watching TV or any other distractions. You could both be laying on the bed just talking and having a cuddle – but it must be uninterrupted & intentional. Ideally an hour, but 30 minutes will do to begin with.
During that time, you don’t talk about the kids, the news or other people. You talk about you as a couple. Whether that be talking about how you feel right now, to what you worries are, and what you may be afraid of – keep it honest. Reassure each other, don’t accuse, attack or pick fights. Really SEE the other person.
Talk about some positive things – memories you share together, and try and remember about all the good things about each other that brought you together. Don’t forget about music – create a playlist of songs that mean something, or even just remind you of happy times together. Leading busy lives we often forget how therapeutic music is.
Get to know each other again, and try and remember why you got together in the first place. Find time for joy in your relationship – laughing is a great way to bond.
5. MAKE SURE IT’S NOT A MEDICAL ISSUE
Since you are on this website I can only assume that you are 40ish or more or thereabouts. And sadly that’s and age where many changes take place in our bodies, that affect our moods generally, and also our libido.
So what are some of the more common issues?
MENOPAUSE is a biggie. Hormones can have a massive effect on how women feel. The peri – menopause can last up to 10 years itself. HRT ( Hormone Replacement Therapy) can help manage things, but some women have unpleasant side effects. Either way, being peri or menopausal can make you feel like rubbish and should definitely be addressed.
LOW T – this one is all about the boys. Just like women , men suffer greatly when their testosterone levels drop. This can result in loss of libido, feeling more emotional than usual, low motivation, even depression. This is something many men are not even aware of, and it’s a problem that is easily sorted. Most GP’s will prescribe an injection that you get every 3 months, et voila, your mojo should return!
DEPRESSION and/or ANXIETY – either of those can come in many formats, and show up in different ways. But when you are feeling hopeless, or anxious, the world can feel overwhelming. Even basic things can feel like insurmountable tasks.There are different types of depression too, ones that like High Functioning Depression ( so you don’t know you even have it!). Either way, if one of you is a low place, the situation can feel hopeless.
There are many other things I could add to that list – but basically is there is something, and it’s left untreated, nothing will change, as simple as that.
You get to decide if you want to get your intimacy back.
6. CONSIDER THE FACT THAT YOU MIGHT NEED HELP
If your relationship has got to a point where your communication seems impossible, you may need professional help. Whether that be marriage counseling, couples coaching, or seeing someone individually – If you can find a person you can work with, getting help can be invaluable.
Just remember to get help with the right intention – relationships break down because of BOTH paries. So if you are going in expecting to be told that you are doing everything right, you might just be in for a shock. It takes two to tango.
Ask yourself – do you want to be RIGHT, or do you want to be TOGETHER?
If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”Albert Einstein
Maria is a Therapeutic Life Coach, Business Coach, Photographer & free spirit. Multi passionate, logical, creative, and an extrovert introvert. Fascinated by people, psychology and most at home by the sea. Foodie & dog lover.
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