Sex, break-ups, fighting and rekindled closeness. For many couples, the corona crisis also means spending more time at home together than usual. We talked to Berlin couples’ counsellor Martin Jurock about the possibilities and risks for relationships during the pandemic, and how love can work at all in times of corona.
tip Berlin: Mr Jurock, you are a coach and couples’ counsellor in Berlin. How are you personally experiencing the corona pandemic?
Martin Jurock: I’m trying to be as calm as possible in my approach to the measures introduced to contain the spread of the virus. The fact that I can no longer go to the gym takes some getting used to. One tends to be a ‘creature of habit’ and it doesn’t feel good to be restricted.
tip Berlin: Many Berliners will spend a lot of time at home in the next few weeks, and will see their partner much more than usual. What effects could this have on the relationship?
Martin Jurock: First of all, this has advantages for couples — but it’s also possible that underlying problems will come to light that have not been dealt with in everyday life so far. Couples who perceive their relationship as harmonious will look forward to this time with anticipation. In positive cases, the long phase of togetherness will have a strengthening effect on the relationship. If, on the other hand, the relationship is strained, the prospect of ‘sitting on top of each other’ for weeks on end can awaken unpleasant premonitions and lead to the outbreak of smouldering conflicts. In general, the time spent together can be used to address deficits within the relationship and to address them constructively. If this does not work, I can support the process as a couples’ counsellor [in German]. In this respect, time out offers the chance to improve the relationship.
tip Berlin: One could speculate that there will be a baby boom in nine months. There’s talk of ‘corona babies’. Are people likely to have more sex because there’s nothing else to do?
Martin Jurock: There are several factors that favour physical closeness: the amount of time spent together at home, limited leisure and consumption, maybe even the time of year. However, in view of the latent uncertainty and possible dangers that Covid-19 poses to any newborn child, couples may be hesitant and postpone the desire to have children. The chances for more sex are good, which would be a welcome side effect of the corona crisis, because sex is known to be healthy.
tip Berlin: On the flip side, will there also be more separations and divorce?
Martin Jurock: Separations can also be made more likely by the current circumstances. Especially if you’ve separated previously and the long time spent together makes the problems more obvious. But: a separation can mean a step forward for both sides. If the containment measures pose an existential threat professionally or financially, these fears should be handled with care and kindness. In the context of a partnership, this means taking the time to talk about the concerns and possible solutions. Any anxiety should not be brought uncontrollably into the relationship and taken out on your partner — this can have a destructive effect on the relationship. Therefore, keep calm as much as possible and be careful with your emotions and those of your partner. In times of crisis in particular, the relationship can serve as a much-needed haven. However, this shouldn’t become an expectation of your partner — make it a task for yourself.
tip Berlin: Can the situation perhaps be compared to a kind of oversized Christmas where the family gets together and arguments breaks out?
Martin Jurock: Christmas has similar effects for couples, but I would consider this time to be much more critical for a relationship, as Christmas often corresponds to a marathon of tasks within a few days: gifts, shopping, special food, Christmas decorations, personal expectations and often longer visits from relatives, which are not always easy. The current situation lasts incomparably longer and is less marked by specific tasks and is for most people a novelty.
tip Berlin: How do you assess the situation for singles? It’s pretty difficult to make new acquaintances at the moment...
Martin Jurock: Singles may have more time to look for someone suitable now. Online platforms offer the possibility to chat, phone and, if necessary, make real-life appointments from the comfort of your own home.
tip Berlin: Do you think many people will contact their ex-partners because they feel lonely?
Martin Jurock: It is obvious that in this phase old contacts will be revived, be it purely amicably or for more. However, you should think carefully about why you went separate ways back then and whether it’s wise from this perspective to hook up with that old flame.
tip Berlin: What can we, as a society, as Berliners, learn from the corona crisis?
Martin Jurock: We will certainly appreciate regained freedom of movement after the successful containment of the virus. I am very much looking forward to that.
tip Berlin: Give us one last tip on how to harmoniously survive the coming period.
Martin Jurock: My tip is this: ‘You come home, make some tea, sit down in your armchair and all around there’s silence. Everyone decides for themselves whether this is loneliness or freedom.’ (Buddhist saying).
Martin Jurock (41) studied psychology and works as a couples’ counsellor in Berlin. At the moment he offers home visits and telephone counselling for couples (in German). More information is available at www.martin-jurock.de.
Still bored at home? Get creative with those excess toilet rolls during corona quarantine and make yourself an Easter bunny or two.