Being locked in the house together means couples have to find creative, intentional ways to spend quality time with one another. Whether it’s a game night, movie night or something more romantic, nurturing your relationship and cultivating meaningful connection, especially in the midst of a world crisis, is critical.
Michelle Herzog, a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist at The Center for Mindful Living in Chicago, says spending intentional time with your significant other is important for your relationship’s health.
“It’s especially important right now because we can go throughout the day without connecting,” said Herzog. “It’s also a time where people are really grieving a lot of losses. If you have a partner available to you, it’s such a good time to say, ‘Can you just sit with me,’ or ‘Can we talk?’ and really just be in this moment and be present with each other — that’s how connection builds and sustains itself.”
If you’re going to prioritize a date night at home, all the distractions have to be put away, said Herzog, like no TV or phones. Herzog also emphasized putting in effort.
“Dates are not going to just happen, they have to be planned,” she said. “It’s important that couples take turns and really put the effort in: set the mood, order the food, get the game, sign up for the class, whatever it is. Put the effort into that just like you would outside of your house.”
Connection can happen no matter what stage your relationship is in, whether married, newly dating, long distance, and everything else in between. Since physical connection isn’t an option for some couples at the moment, the focus should be on deepening your emotional intimacy.
Julie Spira, a cyber dating expert, tells couples in long-distance relationships to “always end your calls and chats by saying, ‘I love you.’ “It can’t be said enough, especially when you’re feeling isolated and lonely,” Spira said.
Below are a few date night ideas and relationship tips — tailored to your relationship situation — if you’re feeling stumped on ways to connect in the quarantine.
If you’ve been together six months or less
“I love the idea of traveling around the world without a passport,” said Spira. “There are thousands of museums with virtual tours, and you can take turns in selecting what city or country you’d like to visit.”
“If your date night includes cocktails and dinner, send a food delivery to each other so you can dine from the same menu,” said Spira. “Don’t forget to light some candles and dress as if you were on a date.”
Plan future dates
Make a list of all dates and places to visit together once the home order is over, said Herzog. “Talk about the dates and places that excite you and that you want to get to and show each other. This helps to get to know each other.”
Keep it light
Play fun games online, like Bingo or shared puzzles, suggested Spira. She also suggested binge-watching shows together on streaming services, like the Netflix Party extension on Google Chrome.
If you’re in long-distance relationship or don’t live together
Engage the wanderlust
“Full out plan a trip you’d want to do together,” said Herzog. Talk about what you’re excited about, go through all the details, and make an itinerary — just don’t book the tickets yet, she said. “This will give you and your partner something to look forward to when this is over.”
“Go through old photos of yourselves together on a video call and recount memories of good times,” said Herzog. “Take this opportunity to increase emotional intimacy while you can’t be physically together.”
Make a meal
Pick a recipe online and make a meal together if you are in same time zone, suggested Herzog.
Take advantage of technology
“Increase sexting, video sexting, and mutual masturbation via video,” said Herzog.
If you live together
The banks are still open. Actually walk in and speak with a teller (with your mask on, of course), and withdraw the approximate cash you’d spend on a regular date night — but get it in all ones. Create a sexy set up at home, dig out an old Halloween costume, and give your partner the stack of $1 bills to throw at you or pin on you whilst you derobe. You now have an in-house strip club.
It’s as simple as it sounds — until you actually try to keep the thing from caving in, but that’s a part of the fun! Grab some chairs, old blankets and start rearranging those couches to create an indoor fort. Place a few extra blankets on the ground for cushioning purposes. Grab a few board games and favorite snacks, or pop in a movie to watch from your new little, temporary abode.
Very similar to fort building, but here you already have equipment. Set that tent up in the living room or basement and microwave some s’mores! Later, go skinny-dipping together in a warm bubble bath.
Every so often, musicians and DJs will take to Instagram Live and give tens of thousands of people hours of free music. During your favorite artist’s next set — a popular one has been DJ DNice’s recurring sets, which he actually dubbed “Club Quarantine” — turn the lights down low, put the speaker up high, and even pop a few bottles to get that real nightclub feel.
If you want to do something outside while still maintaining social distancing rules
Synchronize your work-from-home calendars to have lunch at the same time. Pack a small meal to take to eat outside together, whether at a nearby picnic table or in your own backyard.
“If you enjoy bike riding and the weather permits, there are bike trails that you and your partner can ride on, as long as you’re wearing masks,” said Spira. “If you prefer cardio, take a run with your partner. If you’ve decided to pick up carry-out from a local restaurant, take a walk together to pick up your order.”
— Christen A. Johnson, Chicago Tribune