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Valentine’s Day just passed, and so did many couple’s first “lockdown anniversaries.”
I remember the beginning of the lockdowns clearly and will definitely never forget as I had just moved in with my partner two months prior.
It was a good start because we had our normal lives: he would leave the house to go to work in the morning, and we would meet in the evening.
We were “together” yet sharing little time physically together.
Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? (Well, that’s what I believed.)
Curious, I asked Georgia Morley, a relationship mentor, the reason for so many of these breakups. “The triggers between them are glaringly clear and abundant,” she replied.
She then went on to explain:
“Couples are rubbing up against their core wounds on a regular basis just based on proximity (all day long together is revealing).
Those core wounds that have been between them as long as they have been together are showing up begging to be repaired, transformed, and finally discarded.
The ‘elephant,’ so to speak, cannot be avoided. This is both an incredible opportunity and a painful edge.
The intelligent couples are celebrating the potential to grow closer, create more authentic intimacy and the life they desire, and others are literally isolating in the pain/traumas more than ever and even breaking up because they are not willing to explore the edges.”
In fact, the majority of my girlfriends had amazing transformations within their relationships, yet not without facing some difficulties. I, for example, had to come to terms with being seen 24-7.
Other things have been popping up for couples, too:
>> How to reignite the flame of desire.
>> How to balance time alone with quality time together (because, FYI, being in lockdown together does not mean having quality time together).
>> Or, even realizing we love spending time with our partner so much that we don’t feel like going back to work.
It makes me wonder, are we intelligent couples or simply found the one?
Aimee Batuski, another intimacy coach, interpreted the lockdown as follows:
“This lockdown has created a huge pause for most people, so there’s more of an opportunity to feel things. Their unfelt trauma, their desires, their feelings, their fears, etcetera.
So some don’t know how to cope with feeling all of that and resort to numbing, while others lean into the opportunity and have discovered a lot about themselves, their desires, and their feelings.
This has created different sorts of outcomes inside of relationships. Some relationships have completely fallen apart.
The two partners relied on having separate spaces, distinct lives, and all of the commotion and busyness of life to keep them fulfilled (or distracted) and cannot cope with the relationship dynamic and the closeness.
Many people aren’t equipped with the communication tools to share their needs, desires, and boundaries in a healthy and productive manner, so things fall apart.”
A year later, those who have managed to come out the other side stronger and more in love have a few lessons to share with all couples.
When all the lies got naked, the hiding places and spaces shut, the silences broken, the excuses expired—when the castles fell, the fairytales finished—some found a home. Others found ruin.
Here are the lessons from us who remained:
Begin where you are. Express yourself as you can: whether through writing a letter, or why not cooking or singing. Get a relationship or intimacy coach to help you unblock certain aspects of your personality. Things unsaid become big shadows.
I tried to hide from my partner because I was not used to honoring my feelings, nor was I ever taught to do so.
Communication is everything!
Little by little—sometimes with tears, sometimes with shouts, sometimes in the form of a poem, sometimes by making cookies—I was able to express to my partner what I felt when I could not name it.
Through his patience, I learned to be patient with myself.
2. Sit in the muck
This is what Georgia Morley says she does with her partner:
“We don’t bypass the shadows or apply Band-Aids. And we don’t prescribe to this ‘do the work’ model either. Life is a practice, a glorious dance between comfort and discomfort.
When we strive to figure it out or bypass what’s alive, suffering ensues between us. Instead of isolating and contracting with our limiting thoughts and beliefs, we share them; we move them; we evolve and grow together.”
3. Adjustment in thinking
If you had weekly date nights, keep the rituals. If you can’t go out, order a nice takeaway, dress up, set the table nicely, and enjoy the company of each other—fully.
4. Change in routine
Especially after many years, there is a tendency to dance the same dance week after week, month after month. Routines are great until they bring no more new logs to the fire. It is beneficial to learn to look at your partner with new eyes every day.
5. Voice gratitude
Tell them how much you appreciate them! And do it often—as often as every day.
6. Don’t force it
Just let it go. Sometimes things need to settle in their own time. He doesn’t unload the dishwasher as you would? Is it that important you are ready to ruin your day (and his or hers)? Allow yourself to breathe.
“The fairytale romance we see in the media only shows the surface of how a relationship could look but doesn’t delve into the communication, vulnerability, and comfort zone expansion that’s necessary for a healthy relationship. Healthy partnerships are often challenging, messy, emotional, beautiful, and always imperfect. ~ Aimee Batuski
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