March 25, 2020 4 min read

It is important to take good care of your partner if they are infected with COVID-19, not only physically, but also emotionally.

We strongly encourage physical isolation as far as possible if someone is known or suspected to have COVID-19.  They must be in their own room, have no physical contact, and only socialise via video, outside or in spaces where there is very good ventilation and hygiene can be maintained, and if they are wearing their masks.  This will make your partner feel not only physically isolated but emotionally isolated too. Most of us need a lot of human contact to survive.  Here are a few tips:

  • Check in with them as often as you can. Have a chat through the door, a video call or a chat in the garden, keeping your distance.
  • Watch a movie together, but on your own devices to keep your distance. Chat about it afterwards.  
  • Have as many possible meaningful conversations as you can and make sure you give them the opportunity to share their emotions. Don’t try and offer solutions for everything – just listen.
  • Be there to help them with whatever they need.  They should stay out of the kitchen.  They will need meals to be prepared for them.  They will probably also not be able to do their own laundry. They might need personal products and of course medicine.
  • Make sure they know that you will be able to take them to hospital if they get worse. Even better: get an ambulance if you can, to protect yourself.
  • Tell them that you love them, care for them and value them as often as possible.
  • Try to love them in their love language, if possible.  The love languages are:
    • Physical touch (which is unfortunately not advised, so the touchers will be feeling the most isolated of all!)
    • Quality time – these people will need you to sit outside the door and chat with them for hours. Do it if you can.
    • Acts of service – these will feel loved by all the things you are doing to help them get by – the meals, the laundry, bringing them things they need, etc.  Do as much as you can to show them you love them.
    • Gifts – this one is easy if you can think of something small every day, but it is made complicated by not being able to go out to the shops to get it. Be creative!
    • Words of affirmation – these people just need you to keep telling them that you love them, that everything will be okay, that you value them, that they are doing a great job fighting the disease and isolating themselves.

Also remember that there are different forms of INTIMACY that you can focus on now:

  • Physical intimacy: this is not encouraged if you partner is sick, but you can talk about what you will do when they are healthy again 😊
  • Emotional intimacy: this can be maintained even if you are thousands of miles apart. Make sure you give your partner the opportunity to share their feelings and really listen to them.
  • Spiritual intimacy: if you are religious or spiritual, now is the time to draw close to God and close to each other. Share your spiritual experiences with them and let them share theirs, help them to facilitate spiritual experiences – do they want to meditate or listen to certain music? Do they want to pray with you? Do they need some spiritual encouragement or guidance?
  • Experiential intimacy: this is created by experiencing things together.  If you get through this pandemic, it can create great intimacy! It will strengthen your bond and the sense that you are a team.  That is very valuable. You can also facilitate some creative experiences during this time – phone sex is one idea! Think of other things that you can experience together, without being physically next to each other. If you can garden together for instance, it can be a new experience or something familiar to keep close, but still at a safe distance.
  • Intellectual intimacy:  With all the time on our hands (at least for the ones who are sick and some of us who are not in essential services), there is AMPLE time to connect intellectually.  Make sure you find topics that you are both interested in or can teach each other about and talk, talk, talk!

Something to think about:  After all of this, we might just have much stronger and deeper relationships as well as the good health to catch up on the sex that we have missed out on!

My final message:PLEASE STAY HOME IF YOU CAN!  I am no longer a doctor who saves real lives. I won’t be in the front lines fighting COVID-19 by intubating people. I have however closed my practice and will only do online consultations, to do my part in helping people to rather stay home and not have physical contact with other people unless it is absolutely necessary. My colleagues will however be there, making the difficult decisions about who gets ventilators and who not, about whether they can have contact with their own partners and children and about how far they can push risking their own health. Please stay home to help them.

Written by Dr Elna Rudolph – Clinical Head of My Sexual Health
011 568 4800

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