Four Key Ways To Get Your Relationship Through Lockdown
This past year brought on countless unexpected changes and put a strain on many relationships. According to the National Law Review, 2020 saw at least a 20% increase in divorce rates from the previous year.
With over 30 years of experience, relationship coaches and married couple Stefanos Sifandos and Christine Hassler have uncovered the four essential areas to increase intimacy and connection.
How can couples change the course of their relationship for the better in 2021?
Master Life and Relationship Coaches Stefanos Sifandos and Christine Hassler —as heard on Joe Rogan’s, Aubrey Marcus’, Ben Greenfield’s, and Mark Groves’ podcasts— may have found the answer. Along with having over 30 years of combined experience, coaching thousands of individuals and couples, they also happen to be a married couple.
“As coaches and spouses, we’ve seen firsthand what it really takes to have a thriving and passionate relationship,” said Sifandos. “We know that what makes a relationship last is relatively simple: healthy communication, fast and effective repair of conflict, emotional intimacy, and connected sex,” said Hassler.
Here are four key ways to get your relationship out of lockdown.
Heat up your sex life
Sex usually takes a backseat to the bills, kids, responsibilities, family dynamics, stress, and balancing work with life. We’ve seen it happen with countless couples. So what’s the secret to better sex? The two key things to heating up your sex life are to never stop “dating” your partner and never stop “learning” about sex. Dating your partner means staying curious about your partner and who they are becoming, rather than holding them in the past and who they have been.
Learning about sex means not being stuck in a rut! Continue to explore, research, and try new techniques so sex doesn’t become boring and routine. Remember sex education in high school? Then all of a sudden, sex education just sort of stopped. Be the perpetual student. Share your fantasies openly and safely, learn new techniques, incorporate breath practices, and get comfortably uncomfortable with exploring unknown dimensions of yours and your partner’s sexuality. Sex becomes stagnant through monotony and that equates to a rupture in intimacy and connection.
Communicate like a “love boss”
Expressing yourself and communicating effectively aren’t always the same thing. No matter how long you and your partner have been together, you most likely have fallen into some communication patterns that are keeping you from actually seeing and loving each other the way you could be. One way to optimize your relationship is by communicating like a love boss. That means asking for what you need with compassion, respect, and confidence — pro tip: this means doing your inner work, moving beyond old fears, and learning to love yourself; more on that later.
Communicating in extremes, such as suffocating your voice in order to make others feel better, or being aggressive in order to get your way, are both not healthy. When we don’t speak our needs into the container of the relationship we build resentment (stale anger) and that leaks out into how we treat each other. How you express matters!
Create argument agreements
Arguing is not really a thing to avoid in a relationship. The problem actually resides in couples building distance and resentment in the relationship by attempting to avoid conflict in hopes that it will be “swept under the rug.”
The difference between happy, healthy couples and unhappy couples is not found in the amount they argue, but rather how quickly they can recover from arguments. Healthy couples are able to quickly recover from arguments and navigate conflict because they’ve formed agreements in a calm state about how they are going to argue (when they are not in an argument). For example, agree to not storm out of the room, agree to not name call, agree to take space to calm down, agree not to argue in front of others, agree to talk about what was learned from the argument, agree to let go of being right and seek to understand the other’s POV, etc.
By talking —not yelling,— and forming “fighting rules,” couples will be able to navigate conflict more smoothly.
Upgrade your coping strategies
When we are young, we form coping strategies or mechanisms to deal with difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, these become the habitual way we respond and are usually unhealthy. As adults, these “habits” or strategies continue to play out, irrespective of whether they are applicable to the present moment or your current partner. Especially during challenging times! Some common habits observed in couples are things like shutting down, getting angry, or even pleasing people, which leads to resentment and creates distance.
What a couple can do to get their relationship out of lockdown is create a “pattern break action”. This is an action that will shift the pattern of how things normally go. Couples have chosen a dance move, a song verse to sing, or anything that interrupts the bad habit when it begins to emerge.