4 tips to help maintain a good lockdown relationship:
Routine – Talk about what your lockdown relationship needs for isolation together to work:
- Each person needs time alone for themselves.
- Plan time as a couple. Daily coffee together. A walk. Start a shared project.
- In a lockdown relationship, existing inequalities are magnified. They will produce tension. Is one of you being expected to take care of all the childrearing while the other engages in paid work? How can you ensure each of you gets a break from the stresses those things entail?
- Make sure both get a say. All needs should be addressed equally. It helps if neither feels like they are being told what to do, or are grudgingly appeasing and later resentful.
Criticism – If you’re used to spending most days apart, you’re likely to get on each other’s nerves occasionally. It’s normal:
- Find space to do your own thing. Nip out for a walk. Read a book. If irritations arise put aside time to talk about them.
- It really helps to avoid criticism.
- Criticism can be a shield. The critical person masks their own fear, hurt, sadness, shame by lashing out.
- Criticism doesn’t usually result in a behaviour change. It makes the other person defensive.
- Try a big preamble. Clearly state the positive thing you’re trying to achieve… ‘I know I’ve been distant and I don’t want to be like that, so I want to talk to you about something that’s bugging me… But I don’t want you to feel attacked…I’m asking you to change something but it’s not because you’re wrong. It’s just that I’m not dealing with it very well…’
Conflict resolution in lockdown relationships – Many couples swear by a regular check-in. Grievances can be aired and worked through when everyone’s feeling up to it.
- When arguments do happen, it’s important to find ways to disengage. Avoid escalation. People operate from a primitive [limbic] part of the brain when they feel trapped.
- Move to separate spaces to let the brain calm down.
- Have a bath/ shower. Listen to calming music. Do a sudoku. Watch something neutral on TV. Go for a walk/ run. Movement reminds the limbic system it has choices.
- Come back together once you are both calm and try again.
Physical intimacy/sex – The relationship between stress and sexual intimacy is complicated. For some, stress causes their sex drive to shut down. For others, sex is a way to destress and find comfort.
- You probably already know if your sexual responses to stress aren’t matched. This will be exacerbated in a lockdown relationship.
- Talk about what makes you feel close to the other. Maybe talking, or doing something together. Perhaps a cuddle. For others having sex. There is no right or wrong way. It’s helpful to accept what is, then a way forward can be found.
- Generally speaking, shutting down verbally or physically is not that helpful in a lockdown relationship. Staying connected as a tight team is wise.
- You may prefer one way of connecting over another. It is worth considering the one that feels less natural.
- Connecting physically is very helpful. It doesn’t have to be about intercourse and orgasm. A bath/ shower together. A massage. A cuddle on the sofa.
How are people surviving lockdown?
Esther Perel talks to Christiane Amanpour about surviving lockdown:
Financial fears. Health anxiety. Relationships. All these things are stressful. Surviving lockdown, what works?
Esther Perel, psychotherapist and relationship guru, has been interviewing couples under lockdown. She describes life trapped indoors. Strong negative feelings but also positives. Both sad and angry as well as hope and gratitude.
Surviving lockdown, what works?
What is helpful right now?
How to have a good lockdown relationship?
Getting by, but could be better?
How can counselling help?
Do you have an Asperger relationship?
|This youtube video describes symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome.
If you or your partner have Asperger’s you may find communication more challenging.
There are ways to improve your communication.
People with Asperger’s often withdraw. Spending long periods in solitary activities is common. They may not participate in family life.
The non-Asperger’s partner can suffer from emotion deprivation and loneliness.
People with Asperger’s do care about other people’s feelings. They struggle to read the subtle signs of different emotional states. Asperger’s varies enormously from person to person. Some do not feel adversely affected by Asperger’s and value the gifts it brings.
How can couple counselling help an Asperger relationship?
- It provides a forum for both people to explain what they want from the relationship.
- The meaning and impact of Asperger’s on the relationship can be explored.
- New strategies for communicating can be developed to meet your needs.
Sex in an Asperger relationship can be complicated
For some Asperger people sex is an important part of the relationship. For others sex is disconnected from emotional expression.
Sensory sensitivity can affect sex too. During arousal and orgasm the senses are heightened. Sensitivity to touch, especially genital areas can feature. A repulsion to the taste and smell of bodily fluids is not uncommon. This can make sex excruciating and frustrating for someone with Asperger’s.
How does falling in love differ for men and women?
What is the science of sexual attraction?
What is attraction neuroscience?
Dawn Maslar explores how your brain falls in love
What makes men commit?
What makes women fall in love?
Dawn explains her journey. Discover role of her grandmother in her discoveries.
Do you have concerns about your relationship?
Learn more about relationship neuroscience
Have you ever wondered why relationships can be so challenging?
Find out more about human interactions.
Stan Tatkin looks at the neuroscience of communication
What really causes arguments!
It’s not about sex or money or who picks up the socks.
There is a far more primitive reason.
Give your relationship a fighting chance.
Is your relationship challenging?
Are there issues you would like to resolve?
Find out more about intimacy and desire in long-term relationships
|Have you been with your partner a long time?
Do you have sex less frequently than you did at the beginning of your relationship?
Esther Perel explores dynamics that arise in long-term relationships.
Your attitude to your sex life will make a difference!
Consider the following:
- How do you view your partner?
- Do you put time aside to be physical with each other?
- Do you have fun?
- Are you playful together?
- Do you get on well together?
In 1983 John Gottman interviewed 73 newly-wed couples. Each couple was filmed in conversation for 15 minutes. The number of positive and negative interactions between each couple were counted.
He was able to predict whether couples would stay together or get divorced.
A follow-up in 1987 showed that Gottman had predicted divorce with 94% accuracy
Why does Gottman’s ratio work?
- If you say something positive to your partner it makes them feel good.
- When hear yourself saying something positive to your partner it makes you feel good about yourself.
- When you behave in a positive loving way you start to feel more positive and loving.
- Your partner is more likely to take your negative comment seriously if most of your comments are positive.
- The negative interactions are as important as the positive ones. They are most effective in Gottman’s ratio, 5 positive: 1 negative.
- It is normal to feel annoyed with your partner occasionally. It reminds you and your partner that you are two different people with different perspectives.
- A relationship without conflict is not able to move on. Over time goals, feelings and situations change. Negative interactions alert couples of the need to adjust things in the relationship.
- Some couples, are “volatile”. They unleash anger at one another. However, they offset that anger with even larger doses of warm feelings. Despite the volatility, such couples tend to be stable and successful.They not only influence each other with anger but also with affection.
Clients often say that Gottman’s ratio of 5 positives to 1 negative sounds impossible to achieve!
Each time you think something positive about your partner say it to them.
Check out these suggestions of positive interactions:
- Make a cup of tea/ coffee for your partner.
- Give your partner a hug/ kiss/ hold their hand.
- Put music on your partner likes.
- Ask your partner about their day.
- Text your partner to say hello.
- Try saying the following:
- “You look nice today”
- “That top suits you”
- “You’re a great father/ mother”
- “This is a delicious meal”
- “It was a good idea of yours to ….”
- “I like it when you…”
Try out Gottman’s ratio with your friends, colleagues, children etc.
Are your arguments a problem? Can couple counselling help?
In these situations it is worth recognizing that you or your partner are on a short fuse. If an argument begins try to finish it as soon as possible.
Mostly the issue you are arguing about is a symptom of your conflict, not the cause. Try to identify the deeper layer reasons for the argument and address them. If you do this then surface issues can be more easily resolved.
Deeper layer causes of arguments may be about past betrayals. They could be about fundamental needs not being met. Fundamental needs include:
You can explore these questions together. Relationship counselling can help if you want support in finding a better way of communicating.