Love in a Time of Coronavirus

Managing your relationship through the pandemic

I wrote this a little while ago in the middle of all the lockdowns, while I worked through Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, Messenger, telephone and any other medium my clients wanted to use. In the next room was my partner also at home working online. Our 12 year old son filled the vacuum with his squealing laughter and the constant screeching of his chair as he got up and down to gesticulate to his computer screen while embarking on virtual adventures with his mates.

Our house had taken on a kind of horizontal divide: we dressed formally from the waist up, boardshorts and tracky-daks below the camera line. Our manicured Skype backgrounds belied the pile of unfolded laundry just out of view on the floor, expanding according to its own exponential growth curve.

I’m a relationship counsellor and I have struggled as much as anyone during this pandemic. But I have some ideas about how to get through this pandemic crisis with your partner.

Continue reading “Love in a Time of Coronavirus”

The Opposite of Depression

I’ve been a counsellor and psychotherapist for 25 years and people are still getting depressed. I read in the Guardian that there are so many people taking antidepressants these days that they are finding the chemicals in the fish stock:- passed on from our bodies and transported from our bathrooms to our creeks and rivers and into our oceans.

I’m going to tell you about a woman who turned her life from cold pizza to hot pizza. But first………

Sometimes I like to play this parlor game. Sitting around with a couple of friends after a glass or two of red wine, I’ll ask them, “If depression is endemic in society, then what would be the opposite of that? What is the opposite of depression?

Continue reading “The Opposite of Depression”

The Problem of Sex in Long Term Relationships

Sex is supposed to be wonderful, right?

The answer is yes…..but….

Most couples have conflict about sex. This conflict can be explosive name-calling fights, or it can just be people living in quiet desperation – feeling powerless and depressed.

In every long-term relationship there is a high desire partner and a low desire partner.  As the term suggests, high desire partners want more frequent sex or more passionate sex. They usually feel their relationship is good if this is going on. Low desire partners usually value things other than sex to tell if their relationship is satisfactory – like warmth, affection and connection. Many couples manage to weave a path back and forth between these positions and stay reasonably caring and loving toward each other.

Sometimes, one person has to give into the other’s desire level more and, if this is tolerable, then the couple exists reasonably comfortably with each other. But often, these desire states can become polarised and lead to trouble.

If it helps to reassure you, this pattern is so common it is considered to be normal. Continue reading “The Problem of Sex in Long Term Relationships”

The Intimacy Tug-Of-War

How couples can resolve their struggle to get close.

What is the Intimacy Tug-Of-War?

After a time most relationships settle into the following pattern: – one partner seeking more closeness and the other partner seeking more distance. This is often called the pursuer-distancer pattern; sometimes it is called the “blamer-withdrawer dance”.

You won’t see these patterns early in a relationship, during the honeymoon stage. In this phase people are too focussed on how wonderful and ideal their partner is, and are themselves working hard at being the ideal partner for the other. But pretty soon, probably even from the beginning, couples start to shape each other into these roles, leading to a perennial tug-of-war over intimacy. Continue reading “The Intimacy Tug-Of-War”

Can Relationships Last In The 21st Century?

Because I am a relationship counsellor, I see plenty of couples who are in crisis. Some couples come to me in the midst of breaking up. But I also see plenty of couples who survive the crisis and thrive as a couple.

Twenty years as a counsellor has taught me that long-term relationships need three ingredients to be working well and in unison. I will name them and then I will explain them. They are:-

  1. Attachment needs
  2. Partnership
  3. Eroticism

flow_chart

For a relationship to be still growing after many years, these three ingredients need to be functioning reasonably well. They don’t have to be brilliant. We can throw away our over-inflated, pop-culture inspired expectations of perfection. But they do have to be in working order. Continue reading “Can Relationships Last In The 21st Century?”