Here we are, another week in our homes. Readers live all over the country (even the world), and we’re not all experiencing the same level of restrictions. I’m among those who are telecommuting, which keeps me occupied (and telemedicine is all new to me!) for much of the day. You may be retired or your job may not translate to remote work, so you may not have a similar focus for your attention. For all of us, whether we’re working or not, the pandemic has meant more alone-time with our significant others, without our usual distractions.
At its best, this can be an opportunity to remember why we fell in love in the first place, or to reinforce the friendship that’s at the core of our relationships. I’ve talked to women who are playing Scrabble or Monopoly or doing jigsaw puzzles with their partners. I’ve heard about a private dance party. One woman told me she’s pulled out photo albums from their early time together. They reminisced (and sometimes their memories varied!) with a glass of wine, and recalled some of what they’d had before kids and careers. Several women have told me about deep conversations they’ve had, considering how the pandemic might change the way they look at their future together.
Sometimes those conversations lead to intimacy, and if you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you’ll know I think that’s just lovely. Sometimes those conversations lead to more challenging destinations, in which case you might reread “Why Difficult Conversations Can Be the Best Conversations,” which recounts what I learned from psychotherapist Ann McKnight. Keep in mind that this is a stressful time. You and your partner may not be processing the current reality at the same speed or in the same way, and it’s perfectly okay to set aside a topic for another time.
(Stress can lead to increased domestic violence; we’ve likely all seen news of disturbing trends in this unusual time. If you or your children feel threatened, please take steps to secure your safety.)
We shared a quote in our most recent newsletter that we also heard from Ann McKnight. It resonated with so many of us that I’ll share it again: “Fear makes us lose our sense of connection. Because it often takes the form of numbing ourselves or denial or withdrawal, it makes our [inner] world shrink. When we live in fear, we fall into the delusion of our separateness. We need to widen our circle of compassion. That’s how we liberate ourselves from fear.”
That’s our job right now, widening our circle of compassion. We can start with ourselves and our partners, and see how far we can go.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.