Keeping the Romance Alive While Quarantined

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
Couple in flu masks holding hands and walking baby in stroller
Malte Mueller/Getty

Hey parents! So this quarantine thing is fun, right? I mean, family time is precious, so this is really a gift. A gift. We are getting to know our kids on a level we’ve never known before — like, do you know every single skin and detail about every single character in Fortnite? I do! Neat.

And, we’re lucky enough to also have endless (eeeeeeendleeeeeessssss) QT with our spouses too if they are working from home—which means extra opps for romance, right? Well, if having a bunch of small people up your ass-crack from sunup until sundown and zero ability to sneak out for a date night or even have a private five-minute conversation doesn’t sound sexy, well then… you’re right.

But that’s our reality for the foreseeable future. So it’s about time we say eff off, coronavirus—we’re going to make our own romance. Or at least we’re going to try. Because our marriages and relationships depend on it. Hell, we might even shower and shave our legs! Desperate times, folks. Desperate times.

To help us come up with some doable ideas that could keep the romance flames burning (or spark them back to life) during quarantine, we spoke to Maria Sullivan, Relationship Expert and VP of, who offered some helpful suggestions.

For example, date nights are off the table right now, but your family still needs to eat. Maria Sullivan suggests we challenge our partner to a cook off. “This is a fun way to keep the spark alive with some friendly competition,” she says, “and can serve as a fun activity for the whole family. Even the kids can get involved and mix up all of the ingredients! Once the kids are ready for bed, you and your partner can whip up some dessert!”

The key is to let loose a little and put our stresses to the side for a night. Cooking up a fun dinner, playing music in the kitchen, and sending your SO a knowing wink that later you’re going to have “dessert” might be just the distraction you need to get back in the mood.

If cooking doesn’t get it done for you, Sullivan has other ideas too. “Get nostalgic and have a game night with your partner. Play all the board games you used to as a kid, or even pick up a puzzle and work on that together for some quality bonding time,” she suggests. A competitive game of Monopoly or getting silly over charades could be the balm for your stress level that you and your spouse need. And once you can get to that happy place, the night might look a whole lot different once the kids are asleep.

Another fun one is to dig out old pics and take a trip down memory lane. I recently found a picture of my husband and me from 20 years ago. So young, so much more hair on his head, so few wrinkles around my eyes. Reminiscing about the early days of your relationship is a great way to connect and remind each other how this whole journey got started.

Sullivan also says you can do a fun family movie night, but keep the party going. “Turn your living room into your own personal theater,” she says. “Decorate the room with lights, pillows, and blankets, make popcorn and grab some candy to snack on while your family watches a show or movie together! And once bed time comes along for the kids, you and your partner can stay up to watch something a bit more romantic.” (What that means… is up to you. Wink.)

Or, since you can’t go out for date night, how about a date night in? The kids can help pick out fancy outfits for the parents. One can be waitstaff, the other host/hostess. Let them take your “order,” bring your dinner, and even choose some romantic music. If you feel comfortable with it, light some candles, and use a tablecloth and your nice dinnerware. TBH, this will probably end up being complete chaos—because kids—but think of the memories you’re making as a family and as a couple. Think of the message you’re sending your kids—that their parents love each other and are prioritizing their relationship.

And finally, don’t underestimate the power of trying something new—even during quarantine. “Trying a new experience with your loved ones always brings on excitement and can even get competitive juices going,” Sullivan tells Scary Mommy. Some fun activities that are quarantine-friendly include enrolling in an online cooking class or trying a physical activity like kick-boxing from home. Or how about intimate couples yoga? That sounds intriguing…

“Even if you end up making complete fools of yourselves,” Maria Sullivan says, “you’ll surely have a story to tell later and some funny memories to keep laughing about.”

And Lord do we need fun and laughter right now. Because the truth is, we need each other if we’re going to get through this. We need our girlfriends, we need our siblings and parents, we need our kids, and we definitely need our partners. If there was ever a time to remind yourself why you fell in love in the first place, it’s now.

“What is so great about a relationship is that you have a partner there to support you in the times that stretch you too thin,” Sullivan explains. “Exhaustion from kids and the daily stressors of an unknown world is a prime example of a moment you should be thankful to have someone committed to you, even if it’s harder to see right now.”

Listen, we get it — not everyone can afford an online cooking class, or has time for couples yoga. The bonding activity you choose can be small and simple. Sullivan says the important thing is to “choose an activity you and your partner can do together, even if it’s just enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning before your remote workday begins.”

But, she adds, whatever you choose to do together, make sure you connect. “Take this time to talk through what’s on your mind, simply hold your partners hand and make reassure each other that you are in this together.”

Finally, the last piece of advice Maria Sullivan offers is to also take some time for yourself. “Being under the same roof for weeks on end can obviously cause some friction,” she says. “It is always very important take some very much needed alone time, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed. Make sure to dedicate some time to yourself each night or every other night to decompress. You can do so by taking a bath or simply reading a book or watching your favorite TV show.”

Your relationship will be stronger if you do a little self-care as well as nurture your marriage. After having a break from everyone in your household, you’ll be more able to give of yourself and really dive into that family board game or cooking a new meal you’ve never made before. And, once you’ve tucked in your sweet angel cherubs, you’ll catch your partner’s eye, grab their hand, and maybe feel inspired to “dive” into something else too.

Because the truth is, none of us is going anywhere for a while, so we might as well work with what we’ve got. Maybe that’s family charades. Maybe it’s family kickball in the yard. But don’t forget to fan the relationship flames too. “Romance” can mean a lot of things, folks. Now is the time we find out what it looks like during quarantine.

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