Valentine’s Day: Is It Time to Focus Again on Your Relationship?

Many relationships have been beaten in recent months. COVID’s concern and distraction has had a consistent impact on couples everywhere, as their relationships have blurred. As a couple therapist, I have witnessed first-hand the impact of stress, more time together than ever, social worlds reduced to rubble, and family challenges in marriage and long-term relationships. We have had to adapt and think again about many things and many couples are more irritated with each other and are possibly just doing their best to manage their own individual emotional health.

Pandemic fatigue is legitimate, but luckily there are cracks of hope and rays of light on the horizon. Hope can be a powerful ally to advance us all as signs of what “could” materialize. For many couples, this allows them to dust off and refocus on what is important and possibly lost. I see this manifesting itself in my private practice, as the strong inclination of individual clients has begun the shift towards couples seeking help to finally address the issues that have re-burned themselves.

Valentine’s Day, the holiday of love, romance and intimate relationships, is about to arrive. While this highly marketed holiday may be a nuisance for some, perhaps now, after all we’ve been through collectively with COVID and other stressors, this day can have a new inspiring meaning.

Have you lost the place of your relationship? Have you failed to prioritize your partner while placing him through all the other nasty things? Do you feel the tension in your relationship due to impatience, frustration, ambivalence or disconnection? Consider using Valentine’s Day as an impetus for change, an opportunity for you to look back at your partner.

There are ways to start focusing on your relationship.

Plowing quality again. Clearly, couples spend more time with each other than possibly since the last global pandemic 100 years ago, the problem isn’t just not spending enough time together. It is about the quality and impact of the time spent. If you’re used to walking down the aisle or mechanically going through meal time with most of the child care, go intently to spend a protected time together each week.

Stroll together, play a board game and laugh after the kids go to bed or find an online cooking class. Maybe everyone could have a turn to decide what your quality time will be this week. Consider things that are known to foster happiness; nature, exercise, sun, laughter, experiences, learning a new skill and volunteering.

Be curious. Curiosity is an essential element of intimacy and remains an important aspect of love relationships. Couples who continue to learn and seek to know “why” often feel more satisfied together, as this demonstrates care and interest in each other. An absence can reflect a disinterest that over time can lead to questions about whether they are important or even truly loved. Consider the impact of the many recent distractions on the curiosity of your relationship.

If other things have demanded your attention (caring for you, children, financial concern, worry, etc.), it would be natural for such records between them to have diminished. Ask questions, seek to understand them, show interest in the worlds of others again.

Re-join the team. It’s about the attitude and how you see your relationship both. At some point you’ve probably felt firm on the other person’s team in your way of collaborating, solving problems together, with the awareness that you’re behind your back. Resentment, disconnection, and a widespread lack of focus on the relationship can slowly erode the association, leading to a disconnect. If left unattended, your emotional security can suffer once and for all, creating a dynamic of confrontation where you begin to see yourself as the enemy.

Are you no longer on the same team? It’s time to get back to it, but it requires both of you to be safe for each other by regaining trust, improving communication, and working with hurt feelings. Keep this framework in mind as you interact by asking yourself, “Will this behavior get my partner in or out?”

There is never a bad time to prioritize your relationship. Given the stress so many couples have felt, this Valentine’s Day can be a particularly good opportunity to engage with this type of reorientation. Maybe it’s time you both remember, “Hey, I like it a little.”

Do you have a specific question about the relationship? Check out my relationship consulting services.

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