Put the Passion Back in Your Relationship Post-Pandemic

The pandemic put pressure on many marital relationships and made them unhealthy. Financial issues, lack of privacy, worry about catching COVID-19 and other concerns caused a 34% increase in the demand for sales of divorce documents, according to AARP. A relationship site conducted a survey of its members and found that 31% of their audience said the pandemic was damaging their relationships.

According to the Institute for Family Studies, it’s important to acknowledge that the negative feelings you  may be experiencing about your marriage may have less to do with your spouse than the stress of the pandemic.

Dr. Steven Harris, director of the Couple and Family Therapy program at the University of Minnesota, said, “Be realistic about the stressors you are feeling and the impact it may be having on the marriage. If your marriage is suffering, it may be related to a time-limited but omnipresent stressful situation that 2020 thrust upon us. Now may not be the best time to be making huge relationship decisions, like divorce, that have a long term effect.”

Harris added “I think the biggest thing for couples to remember is to be kind to yourself and to your spouse.”

Experts say that if both parties want to make their marriage work there are steps to take that can bring them even closer together.

“I think the first recommendation is to take a break from the conflict and from each other,” Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a renowned psychologist and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to a Healthy Relationship, tells Newsmax. “It has been over a year of too much togetherness for many couples so giving each other some space to pursue their own hobbies and activities can help defuse some of the pent-up resentment and even anger.”

Katherine Freedman, a licensed professional counselor from Portland, Oregon, tells AARP that couples may still be under tremendous stress and should gently address their feelings without bottling them up. Kuriansky suggests that couples write each other a letter or film a video that expresses their feelings and concerns. 

“Start dating again,” suggests Kuriansky. “Go back to basics and have a real conversation with your mate about what music they like, their aspirations and other topics you may not have addressed when under the siege of COVID-19.”

Focus on the positive traits of your spouse instead of the habits that drove you crazy during the pandemic. Dr Harris points out “there is more than one way to load a dishwasher.”

“We tend to fight over so many trivial things in marriage just because we have personal preferences on things that largely don’t matter,” he said. “When we get too wedded to our personal preferences and don’t see the legitimacy of our partner’s preferences, we can easily become disaffected with our spouse.”

Kuriansky notes that some marriages thrived during the pandemic because couples found ways to creatively enjoy each other’s company for the first time in years.

Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue, a celebrity couple who have been wed for 41 years were just putting the finishing touches on their new book, What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share With Us the Secrets of a Happy Life, when COVID-19 hit the U.S.

“Suddenly, we faced a critical question: would the pandemic lockdown — and the forced 24/7 togetherness it inflicted on married couples everywhere — deal a fatal body-blow to the very institution we’d set to celebrate in our book?” the couple said, adding that the pandemic affected their marriage as well.

“Even our 41 years together didn’t make us immune to the bumps of quarantine,” they admitted. “We got testy.”

Thomas and Donahue said that as the veil of the pandemic lifted, they developed a new understanding and appreciation for the terms, “in good times and bad.” The couple revealed that for every argument over dirty dishes left in the sink, there was an evening on the couch together watching movies and munching popcorn. Despite the lockdown, they managed to take walks in the park with their face masks and not worry about the surging COVID-19 numbers while enjoying each other’s company.  

“And hunkered down in our personal bunker we realized that love and friendship can keep that marital seesaw in balance,” they said.

Kuriansky said that applying these principles can help spark the passion that may have been lost during the pandemic.

“Get to know your partner all over again and put the past where it belongs,” she said. “Many of the hundreds of couples I have counselled were able to re-ignite their lost passion by celebrating their survival and moving forward in their relationship.”

Thomas and Donahue agree.

“As strong as COVID-19 is, marriage is — and always will be — stronger and longer-lasting, and it’s worth fighting for,” they said.

© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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