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Couples and COVID: How Couples can Manage the Holidays

Intimacy during the Holidays

The holidays are usually when people come together to celebrate, connect and bond with other family members and friends. However, here in Hong Kong, we are still experiencing travel restrictions and challenges due to the coronavirus. Therefore what can typically be a stressful time of year is made even more challenging. Currently, couples have to decide if they are willing to add on a two or three-week quarantine in a hotel after travelling. Therefore couples have a choice. Decide to visit family for the holidays, which means extra time away and additional expenses. Or, if they find that travel is prohibitive, they will be forced to be separated from their families this year and make the most of the holidays in Hong Kong.

For the couples who have decided to remain in Hong Kong over the holidays and not visit family this year, here are some essential tips in managing your family’s expectations while also remaining connected during the holidays.


Dealing with Family Expectations

For many folks, going home for the holidays is what is expected of you and what you feel like you should do. However, that may not mean it’s the best or the right choice for you at this time. You may feel pressure to go visit your family or in-laws, but the idea of quarantine feels unbearable. Here’s where it’s important to value your boundaries and hold on to what’s the right decision for you as a couple, regardless of what others expect from you. You are the one making the sacrifice with extensive travel. Some families may understand your decisions, but others may not, and that’s okay. Know your limits and boundaries and remind them that there are always holidays in the future and hopefully different circumstances.


Carve Out Time for Emotional Intimacy

Be intentional and creative with how you connect. This may require you to step out of your regular routine and find ways to deepen your bond. If you are staying local and not visiting family overseas for the holidays, be sure to set aside time for fostering emotional intimacy so that you can keep your connection to each other growing. One way to deepen your emotional intimacy is to remain curious about each other by asking questions. The goal is that when partners are both vulnerable, it helps build closeness.

For example, The New York Times has an article called “The 376 Questions that Lead to Love” that helps connect partners with questions such as “Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.” Or “Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.” See the link below for the questions. You may find that you learn something about your partner that surprises you and helps you feel more connected.


Keep the Sex Life Simmering

Focusing on your sex life during the holidays may not be on the top of your mind, but it’s still a valuable part of your relationship. We also know that if you are a couple with children, it may be even a bit more challenging to focus on your sex life. However, it’s still important to your relationship to carve out some time to connect on a sexual level.

Make boundaries around carving out space for sex and create intimate time in the bedroom. For example, are you more likely to find time in the evening? Or are weekends best for you? Whatever the timing, think about when it would be best to allow for “intimate time”. Know that it can be utilized for any physical intimacy you desire. It’s about coming together with the intention of being close. Maybe you give each other massages, or take a bath or shower together…maybe you lie and cuddle naked in bed. Whatever sort of physical and sexual intimacy you desire is allowed so that you are not putting pressure to have sex but keep open to the possibilities.


Conscious Commitment

Make a conscious commitment to stay strong for each other and stay connected with your partner during these challenging times. They may be unusual but know they will be finite. Keep this in the back of your mind so that you can remain hopeful and strong for the future holidays to come.

Dr. Kristin Zeising, Licensed Clinical Psychologist (USA) and Specialising in Couples and Sex Therapy. Dr. Zeising specialises in working with adult individuals and couples and is a Certified Sex Therapist through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counsellors, and Therapists (AASECT). Dr. Zeising’s philosophy is to help people reach their full potential in their emotional, relational, and sexual lives. Book your appointment with Dr. Zeising here.

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