Back to ba-sex Relationship therapist Natalya Price shares six expert tips on how to love with compassion
If you want to keep the love alive as a couple and avoid those petty scraps during lockdown, read on for sage advice on how to stay strong
There are no outside distractions so it's tricky enough keeping the love alive and the petty scraps at bay during lockdown.
While some couples may be gazing dreamily at each other and planning steamy date nights - like Victoria Beckham (46) recently with her PVC 'sex pants' - most of us are more likely to be fuming in our trackies over the way he or she loaded the dishwasher and did not rinse the plates first!
In the good old days an evening out with another couple would have seen the conversation pinging across the table. But now it's just the pair of you, night in and night out, with nothing new to report.
We all have our faults, and you can't expect to be happy with your other half the whole time, but it would be nice to emerge stronger from this pandemic - to feel we are confronting this strange time together instead of constantly squabbling over household chores. We asked relationship and sex therapist Natalya Price from Mind and Body Works Clinic in Dublin 2 to give us a realistic steer on how to achieve this.
The problem is the pandemic has gone on too long and the restrictions are now really taking their toll. "We are all seriously depleted of our normal resources that nurture us individually and as a couple," says Natalya.
Think about it - in the past we had so much sustaining us as a couple from the outside.
Meeting up with friends and family at weekends and our own hobbies like football training or the gym.
We no longer have these highlights to get us through the week and, even if we know at some stage they will come back, we don't know when this will be which is extra frustrating.
"We have to function in these challenging circumstances of limitation and prolonged uncertainty," she adds. "We are exhausted."
2. Talk about it
While it is normal to feel out of sorts with life right now we must resist taking this out on our other half.
"When we bicker in our relationship, criticise or blame, we are not together," says Natalya.
The next time your other half does something that annoys you, try to recognise that you are probably blowing a fuse, not because he or she double-dipped the knife in the butter and jam, but because you might be feeling a bit lonely and angry.
"Talk about the actual feelings you are having and not about what your partner does or doesn't do," says Natalya.
"In general, try to commit to being gentle and compassionate with yourself and with each other," she said.
Realise the only way to survive, and even flourish through lockdown, is to become a team against the issues you are facing, not against each other.
If you keep this aim in mind the next time you feel the urge to have a go because they forgot to put the bins out, or something, you might reconsider bawling them out and think of the bigger picture.
In the short term, it will just lead to a fight and bad feeling.
Natalya suggests holding a 'team meeting' each morning which sounds corny, but apparently is a useful way to keep a relationship on the road.
Here you can decide what each one of you needs to feel better and what each one of you can do for each other.
Instead of the "what have you done for me lately" way of thinking, put yourself in your partner's shoes and do something nice for them.
Practise the magical question "What can I do for you today?" each morning, she advises.
4. Say thanks
Saying thank you for the little things pays big dividends as "thoughtful appreciation towards each other is a powerful antidote to your partner's irritation and low mood".
For example, thank them for making that toasted cheese sandwich or cleaning the loo.
"It is the little things that life is made up of and the trouble starts when people start to feel taken for granted," she warns. "If you are permanently annoyed with someone you are also not likely to want to have sex with them."
5. Hands on
Even if you are not in the mood for sex this does not mean you can't still hold hands when out for a walk or give each other a kiss while watching TV.
This may or may not lead to anything more, but Natalya points out that if your sex drive has taken a dip but you are still physical in your everyday life then this lack of intimacy won't take such a toll.
"Even if your motivation to be sexual is not at its highest, pay attention to the levels of physical affection that's there between you as physical affection is proven to help couples weather times of low sexual activity better," explains Natalya.
So, if you are getting on each other's nerves in your house, take on Natalya's advice and see what happens. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
Be kind - with yourself and with each other. We are all flawed. Be thoughtful and ask what you can do for each other.
You don't need sex to kiss and cuddle - pay attention to the physical contact between you as this will help you get through the times when sex is a rarity, which happens to everyone at some stage.
Describe your feelings instead of focusing on what your partner does or doesn't do.
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