Keeping Love Alive During COVID-19


By Helene Cooper, LCSW-C 
Therapist with Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated 

Falling in love is easy, and certainly one of the most beautiful and exciting experiences of our lives. We’ve seen the Disney movies, read the fairytales, and pretty much absorbed the cultural construct of some version of meeting our “soulmate,” falling in love, getting married, with the expectation that they will live “happily ever after.”  

So, how do we cope when our relationship reality doesn’t match what we’ve been taught to expect? Or, suddenly includes stressors we never anticipated like a pandemic? 

Expectations can be the undoing of even the best love matches, the ones where everything is “in sync” – attraction, mutual respect, shared values, supportive families, compatibility and the wonderful spark of “chemistry.” The falling in love part of a loving relationship is only the beginning.   

Keeping love alive requires the intention to hold on to what we’ve found, with some degree of vigilance, including self-awareness, compassion and tolerance for the person we love, and honest communication of our own vulnerabilities and needs. No matter how long you have been with the person you love or how much that person loves you, love does not give your partner the ability to read your mind.  

If you do not hold up your end of the relationship by expressing how you feel and what you need, you can be fairly sure that your needs will not be met.   

My colleague at JCS, Jacki Ashkin, LCSW-C, recently shared some additional relationship tips for successfully navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic. Though in truth, the advice stands the test of time and will remain relevant long after the coronavirus loosens its grip on our day-to-day lives. 

 

Give each other space.  

For many of us, the lines between work and home have been erased. We don’t have the natural breaks we took for granted. It may be as simple as sitting in different rooms or taking a solitary walk outside, but you both need a little time to yourselves to relieve the pressure. 

 

Respond, don’t react.  

This is a stressful time for everyone. Tensions are running high, which can make our fuses short. Layer on the pressure of being constantly in close proximity, and the stage is set for conflict. If your partner says or does something that gets under your skin, take a beat and let a few moments (at least) pass.  

If you flash back in anger, chances are your partner will become defensive and things are likely to escalate. This is the time to exercise self-control. Take a few deep breaths, and consider the best, calmest approach. You’ll be more likely to get the results you want. 
 

Show gratitude.  

Make a conscious effort to notice the small things your significant other is doing right. Did they make dinner? Clean up their workspace? Rub your shoulders? Put the cap back on the toothpaste? Say thank you. We all want to feel appreciated. A little can go a long way, plus it reinforces the good stuff. 
 

Do some creative collaboration.  

This can be an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Brainstorm cool things you can do together. Want to try your hand at upcycling an old piece of furniture (think Flea Market Flip)? Research and plan a future trip? Have a ‘who makes the best chocolate chip cookies’ competition? Play a new game?  

You are only limited by your collective imaginations. You might discover new interests as a couple that you’ll want to continue pursuing long after social distancing fades from our day-to-day vocabulary. 

 

No relationship is perfect, and communication is sometimes challenging, but the potential reward is well worth the effort. If you can talk about what you think and feel with the person who is closest to you, you can and will keep love alive! 


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