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Sex with Dr. Jess


November 26, 2020

Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Taking a Toll on Your Relationship?

This morning on Global TV’s The Morning Show, Jess chats with Carolyn and Jeff on how we can support our loved ones at home during the pandemic. Check out her notes and video segment below!

1. For some couples the pandemic has forced them to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together which can be overwhelming, but it’s actually bringing people together?

That’s right. While, of course, the grief, loss, disruption, stress and fear can lead to tension in relationships, some couples are reporting that they’re feeling closer than ever for several reasons.

  1. They have more time to dedicate to the relationship and turn to one another for support.
  2. They’ve finally decided to address issues at their root instead of distracting themselves with work, social engagements, kids, etc..
  3. They have a new perspective and appreciation for life and health, and this attitude of gratitude can spill over into feeling more appreciation for one another.
  4. Improved understanding resulting from direct observations one another’s lifestyles, jobs, household tasks; sometimes we don’t realize all the little things our partners do behind the scenes and now we’re daily spectators.

A British study found that 60% say their relationship is stronger since the pandemic and 30% say communication has improved.

I feel my relationship with my partner is even more intimate since the onset of the pandemic, but also I’ve deepened connections with a few of my friends on account of having more time to really talk about what we’re feeling in more in depth and meaningful ways.

2. For the couples that aren’t as happy in lockdown, many experts would suggest couples therapy, but the pandemic has forced therapy sessions to go virtual. Is online therapy as effective as in person?

Yes. There is a growing body of research backing the efficacy of online therapy. I personally see my therapist online and COVID aside, it’s just the better fit for my lifestyle.

Not only do we have data suggesting that online therapy is just as effective as face-to-face sessions in terms of outcomes and sustained positive improvements over time, but online options also make it more accessible. With a WiFi connection or data (which is an entirely different accessibility issue), you can access professionals who might not otherwise be available to you in your hometown or in a way that fits your schedule and mobility.

Of course, there are still folks who prefer to talk face-to-face and many mental health services are still open across the country.

3. There was a recent study that showed there is one small, very simple gesture you can do to help a loved one if they’re upset. What is it?

There are many gestures that can help to solidify your connection. One study involved MRI scans of brains, in which subjects were exposed to stressful situations and found that their stress response in the brain was considerably lower when they engaged with their partner in one specific way. Bottom line: all of these things can attenuate stress.