A recent social media post by a dear friend caught my attention. She and her partner are engaged in a quarantine courtship and proclaim they are falling in love all over again. What brought this new blush to a decades-long marriage? Her response; “All we’ve left to do is fall in love all over again!” They both realize they have not had this much time to talk to each other in years. Our comfortable routines of daily living ended in an instant when the Shelter in Place order went into effect. We grieve our routines! Meeting friend for lunch, stopping by the hardware store or the office supply store whenever we need that one small thing that will make our day complete. Many couples are spending more time together now than they ever did even while they were dating. The novelty of binge-watching Netflix while consuming cookies and pizza wears thin quickly. And the comfort and connection of friendships beyond our partners may be on hold for a while. We are all struggling to build a new normal around telecommuting, distance learning, and having only our partners for human connection. Maybe it’s time to build a new normal around how we connect with our most treasured others.
Maintaining and reclaiming intimacy is never easy even when the rest of life is going smoothly. In our current struggle to understand and manage the uncertainty of the Coronavirus Pandemic makes it even easier to put our partners at the bottom of our priorities. Maybe it’s time to go on daily 10-minute dates. The way this works is each partner schedules, plans and takes responsibility for implementing a 10 minutes interlude in which the focus is entirely on your partner. This means, as a couple, you will go on two 10-minute dates each day. Just make sure the date location is not in the same physical space as you or your partner’s work from home space. The location can be fun and creative or as simple as spending 10 minutes together on the front porch. The only rule is the subject and focus of the date is completely on what is joyful and life-giving to your partner. Here are a few suggests:
- Recreate a memory from your first date. Recall a song, a place, a particular food from your first date and surprise your partner. If your first was a live concert find a YouTube video of your favorite song and play the video on the patio or in the back yard. Then, and here is the important part, let you partner share the memories the video brings up.
- Rediscover your partner. Repurpose the 36 Questions developed by Arthur Aron and his research partners designed to foster vulnerability and intimacy. Divide the list and ask a few questions each day.
- Surprise your partner. Send notes of encouragement by text or email. The stress of executing all the activities of living, (work, school, family time) takes a toll on everyone. A text or email letting your partner know how much there are appreciated. Often, especially in times of stress, we focus on what we are not getting from our partner. Focus your notes of encouragement on what you are receiving from your partner and let them know how much they are loved.
- Know your partner’s love language. Expressing love comes in a variety of forms. We all know what makes our hearts sing! But what about our partners? What is a better gift? A bottle of wine or a hand-written note expressing your appreciation? A good way to know how your partner loves to be loved is to find out. Start by each of you taking this simple quiz from 5lovelanguages.com. Share the results with each other and then make your next 10-minute date something tailored made for you mate. Happy dating!