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UNLV relationship therapist Katherine Hertlein offers strategies for singles and newly dating, longtime cohabitating, married, separated, and divorced partners to navigate quarantine conflict. For many, love has long been associated with flowers, candy, and counting down the hours until they see their crush or ificant other again. During the age of coronavirus? Just like every other part of life, the mechanics of romance have changed.
And the pandemic has added a new wrinkle for divorced or separated parents who share custody of their children. We spoke with the professor to get the low down on strategies for navigating the many facets of romance during this unprecedented time. The common thing with all these facets of a relationship is that the coronavirus lockdown has ushered in an underwriting of grief for many due to the dramatic change to our daily lives.
Meanwhile, our coping mechanisms -- hanging out with friends, shopping at the mall, exercising at the gym -- have been ripped away from us. For some people, that means disturbances in sleep, while for others it might mean engaging in avoidance behaviors, difficulty concentrating, or depression. All of these things can lead to conflict in a relationship. Perhaps one partner has suddenly become the primary caregiver while the children are home from school and another has become the sole breadwinner because their partner was laid off.
When the kids are constantly around and things are generally more stressful, it can have an impact on decision making and time spent together as a couple. And when the couple is together, they might experience lots of pressure to have a satisfying experience, which naturally inhibits the satisfactory experience. I think couples who live apart have perhaps been better equipped to manage social distancing because their relationship, in terms of the roles and the amount of time they see each other, hasn't substantially changed as much as the couples who see each other all the time.
The couples living apart already have some strategies in place and negotiation techniques built in to manage that. In addition, those couples who are separated geographically have already had to identify ways to make the technology work for them and built skills about how to talk to each other at a distance. When we work with couples, we teach them about co-regulation and mindfulness. We can teach you strategies on how to drop your physiological arousal in person, and a lot of times that can be a gentle physical touch or something pretty subtle, calming, or soothing.
This situation has created a higher rate of conflict. Maybe there are individual issues going on or maybe the couple is engaging in what we call situational couple violence. So, the first thing you have to do is recognize whether a high risk is present. The second thing we have to work on is anxiety reduction. This is about your individual anxiety. We also teach couples about mindfulness, which can help create intimacy and improve communication.
There are actually a couple of video links that walk you through mindfulness activities with couples. In terms of improving sexual connection, instead of putting expectation on super huge moments, take that interaction down to something subtle throughout the whole day.
The best couples are flexible and creative. This is an opportunity for you and your partner to think outside the box about how to make connections throughout the day. You can play a lot of games. Another is the Ungame, which asks questions about your life and your perception. And there are tons of websites, including one that has 36 questions that will help you fall in love. The other thing is we can still turn off our phones. You can, however, put it back by turning off the phone for a night. This also becomes really limiting.
You organically develop those connections. But just recognize that based on the boxes you pick, you might be limiting your pile. When we do that, it draws us closer to people and we feel much closer to them much more quickly than we do in offline settings.
You have to get couples to a common point. What are we trying to say: Is 6 feet enough, is 17 feet enough? Come up with a compromise and err on the side of caution, which typically means going with the most conservative estimate. Their motivation can lack genuineness. Sometimes they were waiting for an excuse to talk to you and now they get one. How are you? Often, people in a high-conflict situation might leave the house and go to work. Research shows that people need at least 20 minutes to calm down before they physiologically engage in a conversation again.
I tell clients 45 minutes, but the key is making sure you circle back after calming down. So, I suggest taking 45 minutes, which allows everybody time to go to a safe space then reconvene and have a conversation. People are entitled to circle back around to that conversation if you take a break.
And remember: take the minute break before you think you need it. I do have a couple that was separating up until the pandemic lockdown blew things out of the water. In that case, we do a relationship separation contract which can also be used with couples who are together to help restructure their relationships. I suggest couples take the uncertainty off the table, instead of waiting for the pandemic to lift, and say to your partner: Through August, our relationship is going to look like this. Make up your own damn rules. Share your thoughts about this story. To comment, you'll need to into your Facebook.
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UNLV Mail. Stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID has meant lengthy separations or extended face-to-face time for some couples, resulting in conflict. How might the COVID lockdown affect communication, sex, finances, and other areas of a romantic relationship? How can people with kids maintain partner relationships when they can't necessarily go on a "date night"? How can single parents continue to date during the pandemic? How do split families work during this time: For example, if you're divorced with shared custody, how do you ensure you're doing the right thing if your former partner has a different perspective?
There have been social media reports of exes reaching out to ease lockdown loneliness or, in some cases, attempting to rekindle romances. Is this a common occurrence when people are navigating difficult times in their lives and, if so, why? Yes, it becomes an excuse to make contact with the one who got away -- percent. Regarding intimate partner violence, how might the quarantine affect these instances and how can couples cope? Have you heard stories of people whose circumstances were unexpectedly changed due to the lockdown?
April 22 Author: Keyonna Summers. Media Contact: Keyonna Summers keyonna.
Topics: coronaviruscoronavirus expertstips topics trendsrelationships. Academic Units:. Related Experts:. Katherine M. Comments Share your thoughts about this story. You Might Also Like. Starting Over After the Pandemic. More about Business and Community.Looking to live with my love
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