What a crazy world we are living in right now. Just eight days ago, I was hanging out with a friend, going to McDonalds, and feeding my dog her very own vanilla ice cream cone. The next day, Eric sent me out to stock up on food. And, since then, I have not left my yard. It is amazing how quickly life can change.
During this time, my mind and heart have turned to those expecting babies! One of the couples with whom we previously worked recently gave birth and, thankfully, all went well. We wish them so much joy and health in this uncertain time. Not only babies, but weddings! A super sweet couple in our own church congregation is postponing their special day as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
It is tough to watch the news and not feel burdened or overwhelmed by all we see. It is in these moments I am reminded of our Savior’s sovereignty:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, ESV)
God was not caught off guard by COVID-19. He is still on the throne and we can rest in that truth.
So, how are you doing? Are you working from home; power cleaning; or, like me, rearranging the apps on your phone? Quarantine can do strange things to people if they do not keep themselves busy. Why not use this time to grow closer to your special someone while keeping your distance? Can it be done? But, of course it can!
Twenty Ways to Grow Closer While Practicing Social Distancing
- Coffee date! This is super simple if you have a phone and an internet connection. Make your favorite cup of coffee, sit in your favorite spot in your home, and hang out with your favorite person at your own makeshift café. (There are even café soundtracks and apps if you want an authentic audio experience!)
- Ask questions. As much as I loved being with Eric after I moved back to VA, I treasured our phone time when we were apart. We talked about anything and everything and were forced to communicate because it was either talk or not be together at all. Think of questions – some serious and some fun – and get to know each other better. If you already have one, break out a book of questions. If not, the Internet has plenty of question lists to choose from. However, avoid topics you know will start a fight and create a deeper connection.
- Read a book together. Eric used to read to me when we were dating and living in different states. I enjoyed getting sleepy to the sound of his voice. It is a bonding experience and you can both learn about a variety of topics!
- Create a quarantine goal. Want to finish three books while you are home? Need to paint the living room? Is your closet in desperate need of some organization? Set some personal goals using the SMART acronym (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based). And, be each other’s cheerleader until you both reach your goals!
- Start wedding planning. (But, only if you know you are getting married. If you are newly dating or not quite to the engaged stage, you can talk about what you would like in a wedding, but we would not recommend any specific planning yet.) While you are home, you can research, discuss, and make a list of what needs to be done. We recommend you each think of three must-haves for your wedding (e.g., videography, a first dance, a live band, specific foods, etc.) so you can be sure to prioritize what is most important to you both!
- Play Farkle on FaceTime! My in-laws enjoy playing this dice game with relatives across the country since you do not have to be in the same room to play it. What are some other board, dice, or card games you can play from a distance?
- Exercise together. You can go on an isolated walk “together” and talk as if you were holding hands on the beach. You can find an online workout or pretend you are in the gym together – lift weights, run on an elliptical, jog in place, or use whichever exercise equipment you have in your house.
- Resurrect an old hobby and share it with your love. When I was a teenager, I wrote poetry. It was amateurish and far from publishable, but I enjoyed it and it was a creative outlet. Then college brought term papers and PreEngaged brought blogging, so the creative writing took a backseat. Now is a great time to get back to work. Maybe I can bring some life experience and maturity to my poetry and song writing. What have you left behind? An instrument? Reading for fun? Knitting? Painting? Can you spend some time on it this week or next?
- Check in on relatives together using Zoom or another video conferencing platform. Just because you are in the house alone does not preclude you and your darlin’ person from visiting with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends. Not only is this a way to spend time together, but it is also a chance to get to know your partner’s family better. Most people appreciate it when their loved ones (especially younger generations) check in on them!
- Brainstorm ways to help to your communities. I just watched a video on how to turn an old bra into a mask. Might sound odd but desperate times call for ingenuity! ~smile~ Are there elderly folks in your neighborhood who need yard work done? Can you go to Walmart and gather some supplies for people who cannot or should not get out? And, better yet, can you disinfect the packaging before handing it to them? Can you start a social media group inspiring people to be useful during this time? There is some way you and your significant other can help. Be creative!
- Take a class together. There are so many free resources are available online (and many on YouTube!). You can either find an actual online class or pick a topic, learn, and teach each other. A new language? Cooking? Comedy? Pick something you are both interested in studying and put your quarantined brain to good use. ~smile~
- Wax sentimental. Make something for each other. A surprise for the next time you see each other in person! A book detailing your favorite memories. Maybe a poem you can frame along with a picture? Do you enjoy woodworking or painting or scrapbooking? What can you make as a meaningful surprise for the future?
- Keep each other laughing. If there is one thing we can count on, it is memes and jokes flying around about toilet paper and hand sanitizer. People are writing songs, poems, and documenting the joys of unexpected homeschooling. Forward jokes and write your own. Just keep each other laughing. We need the levity in these stressful and uncertain times. I have a special place in my heart for the people who make me laugh. Do you?
- Use old fashion mail to send a love letter! You may have to open it with gloves but is it not worth it?! ~smile~ When I was ten, my boyfriend moved to Indiana and my heart was broken; but, I loved getting letters in the mail. The only line I specifically remember from all his letters is, “I love you. Destroy this letter when you are through with it!” ~smile~ Still makes me grin. To an eleven-year-old boy, saying “I love you” to a girl is akin to giving away government secrets. In the world of e-mail and text, the art of writing letters has been lost but now is the time to revive it. No e-mail beats the feel of a mailed letter in your hand. A keepsake for you and your posterity!
- Have a cleaning party. Whether or not you suspect you have been in contact with COVID-19, now is a great time for some deep cleaning. Personally, I do not enjoy cleaning as some of my friends do, but it is so much more pleasant with company. Get out the toothpicks and toothbrushes and start scrubbing those hard to reach places in your home. When you finish your spring cleaning, sit back and breathe deeply!
- Take a brief break. Not a Ross and Rachel break. Just a day or so with no contact to do some introspection or to work on a project. Sometimes, I dream of going to a cabin at the lake all by myself with no phone or distractions – only my Bible. I think such a vacation would be amazing for the soul and for my relationship with God. (If you are currently obligation free during this time, you can do your staycation right now!) Taking an occasional breather at this stage of the relationship is healthy. All too often we get so wrapped up in our boyfriend or girlfriend that we put off other people and lose a part of our identity. Take some time to reconnect with yourself and your loved ones.
- Forgive and let go. Maybe you and your partner have some old wounds which need to be addressed, forgiven, and healed? Now, while we are already thinking about the future and the brevity of life, it is a good time to let go of the hurt and bitterness. Lay it down. It is not worth the space in your heart. Let I forgive you comfort each other’s hearts. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, ESV)
- Send each other quarantine gifts. If you both are open to having UPS or Fed-Ex drivers approach your doorposts, send your loved one at least one small memento in the mail. Even something as small as a sticker or magnet is fine. We all like to know we are on someone’s mind, but it is even more meaningful when that person goes to the trouble of sending us something just to make us smile.
- Pray earnestly for each other. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16, ESV) Love is a choice and lifting one another up in prayer is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. As you have more opportunity for uninterrupted fellowship with God, pray continually for your special someone.
- Talk to us! Eric and I work with couples who are long-distance (and near each other!) using Zoom. If you are in a long-distance relationship already, or COVID-19 has you on lockdown until further notice, we would love to meet you and give you a free consultation. If you choose to work with us, you will not be bored! We promise to open many conversations and help you learn a lot about yourselves and your relationship. If you suddenly have some free time, now is a great occasion to invest in your relationship and future by preengagement counseling! Contact us to see how we can provide clarity for you and your relationship! (We also work with engaged couples too!)
Our long-distance couples often tell us, “being apart forces us to communicate.” Though I did not love being away from Eric in the beginning of our relationship, I am glad we had the time to get to know each other. Movies, gazing at each other, flirting, and wandering through stores together is fun, but if that is all a couple does, they lose the chance to get to know each other on a deeper level. Let this be your chance. If you know each other well already, use this unexpected downtime to strengthen your connection even further.
As does the rest of the world, we pray this pandemic ends swiftly and that God gives wisdom to our governing leaders and the medical professionals on the front lines. Please be in prayer daily for these exhausted people who are fighting for us, often without adequate rest, amid so much negativity.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (I Timothy 2:1-4, ESV)
How will you connect with your partner from afar in the coming weeks?