My partner Sophie and I have been in self-imposed quarantine since the first of March. Like everyone else, we saw our professional lives, daily routines and personal freedom suffer a big blow since the start of this outbreak. Suddenly, reality had been put on pause and uncertainty was splashed all over our walls.
We are both body psychotherapists, working together supporting other couples and facilitating therapeutic groups. We know how demanding it can be to sustain a healthy and fulfilling intimate partnership under “normal” conditions. When circumstances change so abruptly like they just have, the challenges, struggles and conflicts may rise to unmanageable amounts.
We could list a number of tools to support couples coming out of those dark moments together. Instead, we would like to suggest that when you find yourself again in a challenging situation with your partner, to do nothing but to stay in connection with yourself and with one another.
We know that even this first step may sometimes seem impossible to achieve. However, we propose that you both agree that the next time you find yourselves stepping into a conflict, you refrain from reacting over and over against each other in an never-ending spiral.
Instead, try to bring yourselves back into self-awareness. Focus on your inner experience and not on what is triggering you in your partner’s behavior.
Underneath all the noise in your head, all the physical reactions in your body and besides the emotional tension between the two of you, there is the possibility to become aware of all that is happening. As you allow yourself to do so, breathe. Breathe deeper.
Feel your body and acknowledge what is moving inside of you. Is it anger or excitement? Is it sadness? It might be fear, a pain or a mixture of all the above. Whatever it is that you find, welcome it and let it be.
Allow each one of you to take space. Go to different rooms if possible and take time for the experience to be processed and integrated. When you both feel ready, come back together. Share with one another what you found within yourself. Use sentences such as “I feel…”; “My experience...”; “For me…” instead of “You are…”; “You did…”; “Because of you…”.
If you are with kids at home, you might have to contain it for some time before processing it for yourself.
As the pandemic crisis unfolds, it becomes ever more clear that we are in this for the long run. It will take weeks until we come out of the current restrictions and successfully deal with the consequences on various levels of our lives. Your partner and your relationship may be your pillar. A source of grounding, centeredness, nourishment and emotional support to navigate in these uncharted waters. It can guide you through the roughest of times. For it to be so, it asks from you both to nourish the relational space as you would care for your own garden or child.
A final note
We are aware of the increasing reports of domestic violence worldwide. Sexual, physical, emotional and other types of abuse are criminal acts and there is a difference between conflict in intimate relationships and any form of abuse. If you are experiencing something of this sort or you are aware of someone who is, seek for support. Put yourself and your safety first.
If you wish, we are here to support you.