During this unique time, many couples are finding themselves home more often, and together. You may be more up close and personal to some of your partner’s more annoying traits than you want to be, or perhaps you are enjoying the extra time to renew your bond. Each relationship is different, as is each individual who makes up the couple.

As spa owners and workers, we often hear about the relationship issues that stress out our clients, sometimes as a listening ear, other times as a sounding board for taking action to improve the situation. While we may not be professionals on relationship advice, we do know that there are a few things couples can do to strengthen their relationship and find themselves closer than ever before.

Interaction

Humans, by nature are social creatures. During a quarantine, even a self-imposed one, can cause mental stress when we are restricted to limited interaction with other people. While we may be at home with our partner, this social interaction may not be enough to sustain our mental health. In other cases, lack of a variety of social interaction may cause some individuals to become withdrawn, even from their partner.

To satisfy our need for interaction, increase the quality of time you are spending at home with your partner. If you both spend several hours watching tv together, this quantity of time may not be satisfying your needs. Turn off the tv and play a board game, have a conversation, cook something together or start/complete a project around the home. These activities can increase the physical, emotional, and psychological connections between you and your partner.

We even recommend seeing other people—friends and family that is! While going out and meeting with family or friends may not be a viable option during this time, we do live in an advanced technological age, which can help bridge the gap between our feeling alone and our need for other human interaction. Call, or better yet, video chat a friend—or set up an online meet for everyone to come together.

Acceptance

We’re going to dive in deep here on this one—you are not perfect, your partner is not perfect, your relationship is also probably not “picture perfect”; however, you may be perfect for each other. Basing your relationship on the success (or picture of success) of other relationships can do more harm than good. There is no script for a perfect life and there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. There are ups and downs, hardships, and even moments of pain; embracing these, learning and growing from these moments are how relationships are strengthened.

One of our favorite analogies is traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi. This is a derivative of a Buddhist believe that nothing last, is truly “finished”, or perfect. From this foundation, Kintsugi grew. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with silver, gold, or platinum. In this, is the understanding that all things have (or will have) imperfections or will break. It is what you do when it happens that matters—do you leave it broken and throw it away, or do you work hard to repair it to make it anew? By repairing a broken item with lavish material,  artists are able to reveal that it is the imperfections that make the whole piece more beautiful and unique.

Touch

As we said before, humans are social creatures. This doesn’t just mean that we like to speak to other people or be around others. It means there is a beneficial reward to connecting with others, and we can connect in more ways than just verbally—touch, for example.

Something as platonic as a handshake or a hug from a friend to a more intimate touch of a kiss, releases oxytocin in your brain. Oxytocin is the “happiness” hormone, it is linked to feelings of bonding, increased empathy and is believed to reduce stress and anxiety.

Due to the coronavirus, we don’t recommend touching anyone outside of your home, at least not without washing your hands afterwards to reduce your exposure to the virus. Dance, hold hands while watching tv on the couch, have your partner brush your or style your hair (we can’t promise it will be anything as good as we can do), ask for a massage, or really spice things up with a round or two of arm wrestling (or a thumb war!).

Finding ways to connect, to touch, and to communicate while staying safe at home can go a long way to improving and strengthening your relationship with your partner.