We exercise a lot – and yes, this includes s*x.
Exercise has been a crucial way to stop Saddington offloading his anxiety onto his wife. “I’ve made a point of timing my exercise to coincide with when I’ve finished my work with clients,” he says. “I get time to process and separate what is my emotion and what the clients have bought into my consciousness.”
This is also key in Engle’s relationship. She trains for an hour a day with her husband and they’ll practise yoga on Sundays to ground themselves. They’re also seizing the opportunity to have a lot of s*x. “We have a lively sex life normally, but we’re much more intimate during isolation,” she adds. “S*x is an amazing stress relief and can help couples to reinforce bonds.”
This is more important than ever. Be open, share and listen to each other. “I take a view of don’t leave things down to interpretation,” says Christophers. “I think it’s good not to expect your partner to guess how you’re feeling or how you want something to be. I avoid guessing what someone is feeling or what they mean when they say something – I just ask, and listen.”
You can improve communication by asking open questions and avoiding criticism or anything that could be perceived as contemptuous – “these two things will create a really unpleasant atmosphere and have a destructive impact on the relationship,” says the therapist.
“Quit any stubbornness. If you need time out, take it, go for a walk, call a friend but don’t harbour resentment and create a defensive atmosphere.”
Saddington finds it useful to have a daily check-in with his wife – “we give ourselves time to reflect and say how we both are, as well as talk about the family.”
We look to the future.
It can be easy to feel hopeless, but couples should remember they’re lucky they can rely on each other for moral support. “This is a time when relationships that have previously struggled can create some new foundations and get closer,” says Christophers.
“I find it a good time to think about how I would like life to look when we’re back out of self-isolation. I see it as an opportunity to dream together and think of hopes and wishes for the future. Ultimately we have to keep going, so it makes sense to keep on going the best we can.”
One way to move forward is to set yourselves a goal together, as teammates. The goal is to get through this time and appreciate all you can. “If we want the relationship to feel good, we each need to feel good and the best way to achieve that is being on the same page,” says Christophers.
“Be open, be compassionate, and hold the other in positive regard, we’re in it together and want it to succeed and achieve that common goal.”