On this episode of Red Table Talk, Jada Pinkett-Smith, her daughter Willow Smith, and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris welcome intimacy expert and couples counselor Michaela Boehm to answer questions from listeners about specific things they can do to keep their relationships strong during the forced intimacy of quarantine. Michaela says it’s common in long-term relationships to realize one day that the person you’re married to isn’t the same person they were when you married them – and perhaps you’ve changed a lot, too. It can cause a lot of tension, but fortunately, quarantine time is great for creating “honeymoon moments” of really sitting down, talking, and connecting. “On occasion, you have to bring the relationship current,” she says. “You have the chance to now rediscover yourself and each other.”
While you’re rediscovering each other, she admits that old resentments, trust issues, and things left unsaid can come up for each partner. “I would say, for the time being, leave that aside,” she counsels. “What you want to do is anchor the positive feelings.” Jada loves this, reiterating that we should “focus on what is going well….strengthen the parts that are working and stay in those areas.” How we see ourselves, and how we view our partners, makes all the difference. Michaela echoes this advice when Zina and Gerard call; Gerard works in healthcare, so before the lockdown, he went out and bought two grocery carts full of food like lentils and beans to stock up for a potential quarantine. “My wife thought I was nuts,” Gerard says, and Zina agrees, saying that his panic-buying caused their kids fear and anxiety about how bad things were going to get. But Michaela says to reframe it: His preparedness doesn’t cause the family fear, but shields them from it: “We don’t have to live in fear because we have Gerard. He’s going to take care of the stuff that might be an issue….you can look at him and go, ‘I am married to a great provider….someone who really cares about his family,’” she says. “Instead of assuming the worst, assume the best.”
Zach and Alex call in because they were used to traveling a lot, but now they both work from home and are together constantly. Zach prefers to spend his evenings alone in a bubble bath, but Alex wants to cuddle up on the couch together, so they’re having trouble finding a common ground to show one another love and affection. Michaela says one of the best things for a relationship is being generous, and she doesn’t mean gifts. She suggests they take alternate days, and “one day, whoever wants to cuddle will actually pour the bath for the other one….give him the time away,” she says. “The next day the loner is going to go, ‘I found a movie, come, let’s sit together.’ In that way….you both get your needs met but….you’re actively engaging with each other from a place of generosity and love.” Most important of all, “communicate your needs clearly. Your partner cannot read your mind!” Get all these wonderful tips and a lot more great relationship advice on this episode of Red Table Talk.
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