Working from home for an extended period of time to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has had many social and psychological impacts.
But it has also inadvertently turned the romantic concept of spending the rest of your life with someone you love on its head.
Spending a life together is not quite the same as spending every minute of the day together, as couples working from home all over the world are finding out. Facing increasing stress, many are beginning to fear that the pandemic could ruin their relationships, and in more ways than one.
When you are in love, especially at the beginning, there is no such thing as spending too much time together. It’s always fun and exciting as you get to know each other. But to allow your relationship to thrive and last, spending some time apart can be beneficial in the long run.
You need to know how to draw a line between spending time together and spending all your time together. This can be done by creating appropriate boundaries to allow each other to do their own thing and have their private spaces. To put it another way, couples must learn how to spend quality time together.
But with the current situation, where most couples are forced to do everything together 24/7, it’s definitely way too much and could affect their emotional and physical relationships. Couples working from home together during this time will tend to lose a sense of excitement for each other.
Sara Tang, sex coach and founder of Sarasense, which offers online resources and coaching material on improving bedroom skills, advises couples to try to structure their time apart and together as they would do under normal circumstances.
“During the day, you can create healthy boundaries and a ‘sense of distance’ so that you’re not with each other all the time,” she says. “Try to create some physical boundaries like work in different rooms or office spaces even though being in the same apartment. Or if the apartment doesn’t allow, try headphones and not talking to each other for the duration of your workday.”
And if government restrictions allow, she suggests investing in some dedicated, private “me time” every day. “You can create a system whereby your partner leaves the apartment for a block of time like one or two hours, and you enjoy having the apartment and time to yourself, and vice versa.”
In the evening, Tang advises couples to introduce a sense of novelty and adventure to keep things exciting.
“Have sex in an unusual part of the apartment, not just in the bedroom. You can Google ‘creative sex positions’, flick through the Kama Sutra, and try a new position you haven’t tried before. And maybe role play; dressing up and assuming a character creates a sense of fantasy and escapism from reality.”
There are also things couples can do during the day as a prelude to getting in the mood for the evening.
“Schedule regular sexy date nights or make foreplay last all day. You can tease each other and create anticipation for what will happen in the evening. You can do this through sexting and flirting, or even naughty phone sex or FaceTime from different rooms in the apartment.
“Or make it into a game by leaving your partner clues in the form of hidden notes all over the apartment which they have to find before the date happens. Partners can also be given a set of sexy instructions or a ‘mission’ like to buy a new sex toy or wear something special that they must complete before date night.”
Tang believes it is also possible to have some fun “delights” during work hours.
“The occasional lunchtime or afternoon quickie is fun, if the mood strikes and there aren’t any pressing work commitments. But you still need to follow the principles of being more structured with time and scheduling sexy date nights,” she says.
“I suggest having make-out sessions or finding ways to tease each other during the day to get in the mood and build excitement for the evening.”
As for couples who prefer not to get physical during work hours, she suggests: “Take this as a time to be more present, build intimacy and deepen your connection with each other. Do this by improving your sexual communication.”
For lovebirds separated due to lockdown, Tang suggests mastering the art of sexting and sexy or dirty talk. They could even use old-fashioned forms of communication like sending a card, letter, gifts, sexy Polaroids, even handwritten erotic stories if they’re creative, she says.
“Care packages of sex toys are a great gift, especially those that are designed for long-distance relationships like remote-control toys that come with a Bluetooth-connected app that allows one partner to control the toy remotely from anywhere in the world.”
For couples who have children, Tang suggests scheduling “adult time” after kids have gone to bed. She says it’s important for couples to make an effort to stay connected physically and intimately, even when they might feel too tired to engage in full intercourse. This includes things like giving sexy backrubs, cuddling and kissing.
“You can also plan a sexy date night once in a while when childcare is available. A good suggestion to escape from Hong Kong’s space constraints is to plan a sexy staycation away from children, even for an evening.”
She advises couples against using sex to shift the focus away from inherent problems within their relationship. “I don’t think sex is a solution for couples in constant conflict. If anything, lockdown can intensify the stress and uncertainty as well as increase conflict and further reduce desire for sex,” she says.
“It’s better to put effort into figuring out what is causing stress in the relationship and resolving those problems without using sex.
“You can communicate openly about the sources of conflict; be honest and transparent about the problems, desires, fears and vulnerabilities you experience. Always be open to listening to your partner’s perspectives too, and respect differences in opinion”.
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