Tips for enhancing your relationships during the pandemic
If you are in a loving relationship right now, you are fortunate. The same goes for anyone with a loving family around them, but this is also a stressful time, and it can be hard on close relationships. You can also use this time to build your closeness and give yourself the gift of enhancing your relationships. Here are some ideas that will help get you there.
1. Tell the people you love that you love them. Say the words and feel the feeling at the same time. In a family, you can make this a group project; it will help to stave off the mass anxiety out there that is trying to creep into your life. And this is not a one-time thing; do it often, you'll like the way it feels.
2. Stay in bed a little longer with your partner, and maybe go to bed a little earlier. This is bonding time, and with all that is going on in the world outside, the bond between you can and will get stronger. You just have to want it and allow yourselves to feel it.
3. Those without a primary partner need to communicate and take in the love that is around them. Stay safe, but make each conversation with a loved one count. It doesn't matter if it's online or in person; you can still feel the love.
4. Put more energy into video calls. All of my psychotherapy is now online, and I can tell you that it does take more energy and focus. But the good news is that the people I'm talking with have a deeper and more enriching experience. If a little extra energy can make a difference in counseling, it will do the same for your relationships.
5. Make your greetings and farewells a little bigger. When you have to go out into the world, make sure you connect with your partner and loved ones before you leave and when you get back. Don't just say hello and goodbye, but give a nice hug and make eye contact.
6. Keep your "nice" on. I am a bit more attentive, more complimentary, more responsive, and more verbal about all the good that comes to me from my wife. She gets uplifted by the affirmations and the energy behind them, which continues the cycle of love between us. The process can become very natural very quickly.
7. Stay on top of household tasks. I'm doing my own laundry (mostly) and taking care of the manly-man stuff around the house as well as making an effort to not have her make any extra effort. That means I put my dishes in the dishwasher, pick up after myself, and try to save her steps where I can. She does the same for me.
These seven tips for enhancing your relationships during the pandemic are helpful, but perhaps the simplest thing to remember is to try to make life easier for those you care for. Most people do that naturally, but during a crisis, we can become very self-involved and forget about those who are closest to us. If you want to enhance your relationships, don't make things any harder than they already are but be there for your loved ones and express your appreciation.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.