How To Bond With Your Partner (And Have Fun!) While At Home In Quarantine

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How To Bond With Your Partner (And Have Fun!) While At Home In Quarantine
Love

Quarantine doesn't have to mean you're angry and upset all the time.

When you're stuck in close quarters with those you love due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, your relationship with your partner may become more strained than ever before.

If you're forced to quarantine with someone else, it might be putting pressure on your relationship. But you can use this period of social distance to increase intimacy and treat it like you're "dating" your partner all over again!

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Stress can make you lash out at the people you love that you later regret — especially during the COVID-19 in-home, mandatory "sheltering-in-place."

A lockdown is stressful because whatever unaddressed issues you have in your closest relationships are sure to come up raging red.

So, what can you do to maintain your sanity and keep yourself from saying things to your loved ones that you later regret?

When emotions flare, sure you can fight, sequester yourselves in different rooms, pour alcohol over your upset, tear yourself apart even further. Or, you can do the unthinkable: Have fun in the midst of a crisis, and maybe even fall in love all over again!

And if that’s the game you choose to play (the game of passion and fun), you need to set three ground rules first.

Here are 3 ways you can bond with your partner and increase intimacy during your quarantine in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

1. Deal with your own upsets.

There’s a reason you get upset with your partner: They're an expert at pushing your emotional buttons.

They must stop their despicable behavior in order for you to get along, right? But what if they don’t?

Let’s say your teenager keeps begging to meet his friends at the park. And for a good 40 minutes, your husband keeps telling him "no," providing a steady stream of reasons why it's dangerous, not appropriate, and even illegal during an acute pandemic.

Finally, your partner blows up, and you feel yourself tensing inside.

And even though the kid eventually backs off and your husband’s actions were justified (he was tired and scared for the family’s safety), it makes you feel anxious.

But now that you’re willing to play the game of being responsible for your emotions, ask yourself, “How does it make me feel when my husband yells?”

“Like a helpless kid when my father yelled at me,” your mind may eagerly respond.

And at that moment, you realize the real reason for your distress: You’re feeling like a disempowered child; that’s the real reason you’re upset with your partner.

It’s important to let him know what you’re feeling, because if you don’t acknowledge it now, it will continue to cause you pain. He won’t know why you’re angry with him and he won’t have the opportunity to change his behavior.

2. Communicate honestly and clearly.

Accept yourself and your partner for who you really are: Messed-up humans, each in your own way.

When your partner’s actions have you on edge, find a moment when you both can talk without interruption. This may require some planning and scheduling.

For example, “Let’s meet in the kitchen at 10:00 p.m., after the kids are in bed."

At the "meeting," begin by letting them know how important this relationship is to you and how much they matter. This is the reason you want to talk, and be sure to acknowledge them for agreeing to listen.

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Having laid this groundwork, express how your partner’s actions made you feel while owning those feelings.

“I get it,” you may say. “I’m not a kid being scolded by my parents; I’m a grownup who can stand up for myself. You activated one of my triggers, and I am aware of it. I get it that I have my own set of insecurities and you have yours, but love is acceptance, so I choose to accept the good and the ugly in both of us.”

Don’t be afraid you’ll come across as weak, because you aren't. It takes strength to open up and expose your vulnerabilities. This is the highest form of intimacy, and it’s a mature and courageous thing to do.

3. Don’t get "stuck" in your upsets.

Last night my friend Dina called me, fuming. She’d spent three hours cooking her husband Brian’s favorite chicken parmesan Italian dinner, lit candles, and put on her nicest "house" dress.

They'd agreed that dinner would be at 7:00 p.m., but Brian was still Skyping with his parents at 7:30.

Dina was texting him reminders every five minutes, and he kept promising to come to the table shortly. By 7:45, dinner was cold and she threw it away.

When Brian finally ambled into the kitchen, he apologized profusely, but it didn’t matter — Dina was too deep into her upset.

It's easy to get caught up in your anger, especially with tempers already being high and stress and anxiety appearing in every corner. But these are the kind of things you'll need to let go. Life is stressful enough, especially now.

If you're upset with your spouse, tell them how it made you feel: Unappreciated, unimportant, disrespected, etc.

Let them reassure you that it wasn't their intent to devalue you, and accept the fact that neither one of you is enlightened. Ask your partner not to do it again (or at least to try), and move on with your life.

When you approach relationships based on these three rules, you can actually have fun while in lockdown together.

And now that you’re quelling upsets by taking responsibility for your emotions, here are 10 activities that can make the time pass more enjoyably.

1. Scavenger hunt for a date night.

Get creative with a scavenger hunt, leaving clues throughout the house about where you’ll meet at 10:00 p.m. for a date night.

Last night, it was a candlelit bath together in a guest bathroom; the night before, a fuzzy blanket spread out on the patio for a picnic at sunset.

2. Hide and seek.

Shock your kids by playing hide and seek.

A kiss could be the reward for finding your partner. Then cuddle on the couch, whispering what you appreciate about each other.

Sure, there are plenty of things that drive you up the wall about your partner, but there are more things that you love.

3. Flirt via phone.

Check in with each other throughout the day, exchanging funny or romantic texts or emails while working in different rooms.

4. Go for a romantic walk.

Walk the streets of your neighborhood, dreaming about the future. Talk about where you’ll be a year from now, brainstorming outrageous possibilities.

5. Watch home movies.

Watch your wedding or other home videos. A lot has happened since you met, but much more is still to come.

6. Plan a socially distant visit to extended family.

Visit your parents or extended together while taking precautions and distancing yourselves. Leave their favorite goodies at the door and blow them a kiss through the window.

7. Make grocery shopping an adventure.

Make trips to the store adventurous, as if you're two conspirators.

8. Take a YouTube dance lesson.

Consider taking dance lessons on YouTube, something you finally have time for.

9. Grill out or picnic inside.

Fire up your fireplace and grill marshmallows, or just chill on the floor with a sumptuous spread of cheese and wine.

10. Play classic games.

Get competitive, playing checkers or dominos, or tackle a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle.

These are times like never before, something to bond over and never forget.

Life is unpredictable and turbulent, but storms are easier to withstand when you and your partner are the nuclei of your universe.

And yet, if you need space, tell him or her — and walk your dog alone.

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Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., is a medical hypnotherapist, holistic consultant, and author of Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family. As the founder of the Achieve Health Center, she helps men and women attain mental-emotional alignment and close the gap between where they are and where they want to be.