The Covid-19 quarantine and social distancing and the underlying risks creates stress and has big impact on our relationships. Times like this can draw people closer, or drive them further apart.
Join sex therapist Dr. Laurie Watson and couples therapist George Faller as they talk about the impact of the Corona virus on our souls and relationship.
George Faller: Hey, we wanted to devote an entire episode to coronavirus and how you guys are surviving and how we’re surviving.
Laurie Watson: Welcome to Foreplay Radio, couples and sex therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.
George Faller: And I’m George Faller, your couples therapist.
Laurie Watson: And we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.
George Faller: Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart, and the body.
Laurie Watson: So George, you are in New York? And you might get stuck there. Tell me about what’s going on.
George Faller: Wow. Certainly crazy times. I never thought I’d see something like this in my lifetime.
Laurie Watson: I know.
George Faller: But yeah, it’s a new world we’re all living in.
Laurie Watson: It is. It’s kind of scary.
George Faller: It’s absolutely scary. And you know, I’ve certainly experienced some disasters and traumas and tragedies in my life but this one is a … I have seen nothing like it before.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, the whole world affected, right?
George Faller: Exactly. And I guess that’s the hardest thing. It’s just, it’s not knowing.
Laurie Watson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). People are dying and people are sick and people are losing jobs, incomes. I actually had to lay off some people. It was terrible, I miss them already. I came in today, I’m in my office to podcast and their offices were all cleaned out and I just felt so sad. It’s terrible.
George Faller: And we don’t know how long this is going to be. I mean, I think that’s the thing with most disasters. There’s a definitive end point that you could look towards. It gives you some light at the end of the tunnel and something like this. It’s just, it’s hard to see that.
Laurie Watson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It is. It’s hard. Somebody sent out, I think it was Chris [Kesser 00:02:01]. He’s a health guy and he sent out the Elizabeth Cooper Ross five stages of grief and he did it for the COVID-19 time and he said, “The first stage is denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.” And he says, “At the beginning where everybody is saying, well you know, this isn’t a big deal. Everyone’s overreacting.” And then there’s the anger stage where people are saying, “You can’t make me stay home. It’s this person’s fault or that group’s fault.” And then we’re bargaining and saying, “Okay, I’ll social distance for two weeks, but only if life goes back to normal after that.” And then there’s depression. It’s people feeling it’s hopeless, our lives are ruined, we’ll never be happy again. And then there’s the stage of acceptance. You know, this is happening whether I like it or not. So I have to figure out how to adapt to this.
George Faller: So where do you think you’re at?
Laurie Watson: What stage? Ah, I’m bouncing between denial and depression, I think. Where are you at?
George Faller: I have no idea. I mean, I guess I’m trying to figure out, even as I’m saying to you, what’s different about this than so many other things? But I guess what’s so different about this is the social distancing. I guess that it’s normally in times of stress that you turn towards the people you love the most.
Laurie Watson: Right.
George Faller: I can’t imagine leaving my mother alone, not being able to see her, right? Not seeing your brothers and friends. And this is so weird because we’re all just hunkering down, with maybe one to two or by ourselves. And I don’t think there’s ever been a time on this planet where people have been so isolated and disconnected.
Laurie Watson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, and that’s a big problem. Big problem for family relationships and our friendships and just our soul, right? To not have that contact with people we love is awful.
George Faller: Right.
Laurie Watson: I’m a hugger and it’s like I can’t hug anybody.
George Faller: Well, I think before this happened, our society was already dealing with the crisis of connection and we’re lonelier than any other time in the history of the world. Which makes sense why we’re so then turning towards other things to connect, material things, addictions, ways of trying to feel good. Yet now, we’re taking that to a whole nother level. So for me that’s the challenge of this virus. It’s how do we use that time wisely? I guess there are only two directions to go with this. I’m seeing a lot of couples now online, right? Video conferencing.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. Me, too. Right.
George Faller: And it’s either something like this shocks people into remembering what is most important, then somehow they strengthen their relationship. Or this already takes a very distant relationship and just breaks it and takes it to the point of no return. So that to me, that’s the challenge. How do we help our listeners, ourselves, the people we love to use this time in a wiser way.
Laurie Watson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. I have been seeing all kinds of jokes about that. You know, I love this person more than anyone in the world and I’m about to kill him. Yeah. So, what is your family up to you? What are you guys doing to stay connected?
George Faller: Well, I tried to have one of these family conversations with my wife and two sons about the importance of connection and all of a sudden everyone’s scattered into different rooms, onto their electronics. So, I’m not sure how well we’re handling it, but it’s a good idea. It’s just put it into practice, that’s a little bit more challenging.
Laurie Watson: So what do you want to see happen? What would be your ideal, for your family?
George Faller: Well, I think meal times have become more important, everybody rallies together and has some conversations. Game time, taking a walk, doing an activity together. I mean, even though there’s still a lot of electronic time, which everybody’s just finding their own way of soothing and coping and being entertained. There’s a lot more connection time in my family, the four of us locked in a house together. Which I think has been a great opportunity in this crazy time we’re in. How about you? How have you been dealing with the time?
Laurie Watson: Well, our kids are out of the home, but we traditionally meet on Saturdays for lunch. So, one of the good things we did was have a Zoom meeting by lunch. And normally our son in Boston can’t participate, but he came to Zoom lunch, so we sat and talked and just connected it. It was really no big deal. And I think the guys were still playing games while they talked to us or something. I don’t know. They weren’t looking at the camera but it was still nice. It was nice to see them and hear from them. And I think it was nice to hear them support each other. All my boys get along really well and they actually, even though the gaming thing is just out of control in my mind, they do talk every single day because they play together.
Laurie Watson: And my oldest son has this group of guy friends and my younger sons have been grafted into the group. And I like all these young men really a whole lot. I respect them, like them, think they’re good people. So, even though they all play too many games, I know that my sons are involved with a group of people that they really talk to. And the other thing that they do is, they have this sidebar, it’s called the [PO 00:07:42] box. And I can’t remember what it represents but they talk every single day on Skype together, too. And they have a PO box, a bro box. So it’s just the brothers, just the boys, they have their friends.
Laurie Watson: And they truly discuss their problems with each other. I don’t remember, my husband didn’t have that growing up where they were guy friends talking and they talk about the women they’re involved with. They really truly talk about difficulties. I know that there’s been a couple really big problems and I’m always asking them, “What’s the PO box say?” And so, they’re connecting, you know? So for them, at least that is not gone. That’s kind of the same.
George Faller: It’s funny, as you were describing what your sons are doing, I was thinking to myself how common that is for men to need a lot of time to want to go get into emotions. It’s almost like the opposite when it comes to sex, right? That men want to laugh and talk about superficial and light. They want to enjoy each other, ease into it and then when they’re safe, they put their toes into the water of these deeper conversations. I know my sons always tell me, “Dad, can’t you see this doesn’t work?”
George Faller: When you come right out and you want to have … I usually want to show them a video or read them an article or something to just immerse them into something deep. And they roll their eyes and they tolerate it but they don’t super engage. This is what my son told me the other day. He’s like, “Can’t you see the time it doesn’t work?” You’ve got to slip it into the compensation, right? It’s so funny because they’re really talking about … So often what females are looking for with foreplay, right? Just take the time, ease yourself into it. What do you think of that connection?
Laurie Watson: I think that’s hilarious. It’s like your sons are coaching you, shaping your conversation and saying, “Dad, do it this way.” That’s beautiful and you want to just like boom, go there.
George Faller: I’m consistent with sexually and emotionally. It’s the same conversation. Let’s get into it. Let’s just jump into it.
Laurie Watson: Really? Are you an emotional pursuer, too?
George Faller: I don’t know. I’ve [inaudible 00:09:56] my whole life, but doing this kind of work. Talking about this all the time, I think you can change your pattern.
Laurie Watson: With your sons? You pursue them emotionally?
George Faller: Yes, yes.
Laurie Watson: With your wife? Or is she more the emotional purser?
George Faller: I think we switch roles. I used to be [inaudible 00:10:12] which you are, but like I said, “I’ve evolved over time.” That’s what she likes to say. I’m not sure it’s evolving. Might be devolving, but whatever. Pick the words you want.
Laurie Watson: y husband says I’m much more patient. He says I’m a different person than I was 20 years ago. That I’m a patient person now. I was not patient either in the beginning of my marriage, but I am pretty patient now.
George Faller: Well that’s nice.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, yeah. I used to have a terrible temper, too. But I’ll tell you about that maybe after the next segment.
George Faller: All right.
Laurie Watson: Okay.
Announcer: Speaking with Certified Sex Therapist, Laurie Watson from Awakening Center for Couples and Intimacy. Laurie, what is an intensive?
Laurie Watson: So an intensive is 12 to 14 hours of therapy all in one weekend. And it’s a way to really make fast progress compared to weekly therapy. I mean, there’s just so much more you can get done when you have a chunk of time.
Announcer: Overcome the challenges in your relationship and your sex life. Learn more about intensives and awakening centers, other services and awaken love and sex.com
Laurie Watson: Hey, I want to let you guys know all about George. He’s written and contributed to several books and I’d especially like to draw your attention to his book, Sacred Stress, a radically different approach to using life’s challenges for positive change. His book is about a mission on how you adopt new strategies and turn stresses into a positive force in your life. And who among us doesn’t live with a lot of stress these days. We’ll keep you posted as to all he’s doing. But George and other EFT therapists all around the country and the world hold couples retreats called, Hold Me Tight, which is developed by Sue Johnson and it helps secure your own relationship.
Laurie Watson: If you’d like therapy with George, find him at georgefaller.com. So anyway, yeah, there’s been change in my life over many, many years of marriage. What are you thinking about? I know you went through 911 and I just saw those videos about the people. I think it was in New York somewhere and they were clapping for all the doctors and nurses leaving their shifts. I mean, we owe them such a debt, these people putting themselves truly in harms way. And I was reminded of some of the stories that you’ve told with 911. How are you feeling about this, watching this in your city again?
George Faller: And what is going on with New York being the ground zero for so many of these events?
Laurie Watson: Dang, I know.
George Faller: You know, it’s been a lot of mixed feelings coming up. I could relate to the uncertainty after 911, not knowing when the next attack would happen. We certainly thought that was going to happen and it didn’t end for months and there was always still fires happening. So it was very prolonged, which feels very similar to this. So I can feel the stress of that and see these doctors, people cheering and them dancing, all these different things going around. That brings back some of this lighter side of how important that really is. Being down at ground zero, being exhausted, not finding people alive. It was pretty depressing, right? But it had people cheering or giving you a bottle of water. Those things really lifted your spirits. Really, to notice people seeing you and appreciate what you’re doing, it really gave great energy. I can’t tell people how important that is to thank the ambulance drivers and the nurses and the doctors, the people at the gas station or supermarkets making all this happen.
Laurie Watson: People at the pharmacy. I mean, people who are still giving you food. I mean, they are truly in harms way.
George Faller: They’re on the front lines of this one. That’s what makes it so unique.
Laurie Watson: You know, just hourly waged people in the grocery store and they’re still coming in. They’re stocking the shelves, they’re still doing it for us. Yeah. If you’re listening and you’re doing that, we are filled with gratitude for you. Thank you for all you’re doing. And I think too, we have lots and lots of listeners and I’m sure some of them have lost people.
George Faller: Right.
Laurie Watson: I mean, I have not yet lost anybody. Have you lost anybody?
George Faller: Not particularly close. I mean, there’s hundreds of firefighters that now have it. No people that I know, but I haven’t lost anybody. Unfortunately I think it’s a matter of time before every family’s going to know somebody who’s been impacted by this.
Laurie Watson: Right, right.
George Faller: As you were saying earlier, people already losing jobs and selling homes and there’s such a huge ripple effect to something like this.
Laurie Watson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, it’s really scary. How do we grow from this experience? What do you think would be helpful to us to now? I know you’ve studied a lot in post traumatic growth, not just stress, but in growth. I’m curious to how you grew after 911? How did you heal and grow and what can we learn from that today?
George Faller: Well, I think that’s the good news and you have to be ready to hear the good news, right? If you can’t see somebody you love who’s dying, you’re not ready to hear the good news.
Laurie Watson: That’s right.
George Faller: But at some point, the research is really clear on the difference between people who … We all grow from an experience we all change, I should say. A lot of people want to get back to life prior to the event, and that’s not happening, right? People who learn to create a new normal, they’re the ones that really do the best in any type of disaster. So, if you look at research on post traumatic growth, there are really five things that you can see happening all over the world, when people grow from an event.
Laurie Watson: I’m going to write them down. Tell me.
George Faller: They talk about one, people find new possibilities, new meaning in their lives. Things are not … And I think you see this happening, people are taking the environment a little bit more seriously. They’re looking at how much do they actually need in their lives.
Laurie Watson: Oh yeah. Isn’t that true?
George Faller: I want to be a different person. Now, I didn’t know this after 911 but for this now, I’m hoping this process changes me. I want to look back and say, “Hey, I learned to do things very differently because things became more meaningful to me.”
Laurie Watson: Like that.
George Faller: Another thing, people find themselves growing stronger through the challenges and adversity. They are literally being battle tested, right? You start to learn more about yourself. You’re more resilient then you recognize.
Laurie Watson: That’s lovely.
George Faller: You can go without all these things that you thought were so essential in your life. I think we get streamlined and we like ourselves better when we simpler.
Laurie Watson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). We’re being battle tested. That’s a strong metaphor versus being persecuted. We’re being battle tested, we’re being strengthened for the battles to come. I love that.
George Faller: The third thing is relationships improve. People really recognize, this is the most important thing, we are made for relationships. That’s why this one is so challenging because there is social isolation, the distancing. But after the event, people really start to prioritize their relationships a little bit differently. Spending time with their kids, their loved ones, their friends, their communities, synagogues, churches, you name it. But that becomes much more like not something they get to at the end of the day, it’s an essential part of their day, right? So, can you see that now? That’s what I’m hoping is, people are going to really look at their relationship and say, “Hey, this was actually more fun than going shopping or watching that sporting event. Having those games with my kids or my partner taking that special time.” How does it not start to light up what’s happening inside of us to start priming our nervous systems to want more of this.
Laurie Watson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
George Faller: The fourth thing is, people really ironically look back and they develop more gratitude about their life. They don’t take it for granted. They start to realize how much they have to be thankful for. And it’s being thankful that just makes life, we take ourselves a little less seriously. We become less focused on how important we are, right? It really helps develop a healthier perspective. And the last one is universal. It’s people find themselves being more spiritual and whatever that looks like. I think there’s so much anxiety and helplessness and loneliness that people are looking to connect and finding that connection in nature or with God.
Laurie Watson: We want to be part of something that’s bigger.
George Faller: Exactly. And it’s less an idea and more of an experience. As more feels like, wait a second, there is a purpose here. There’s somebody that has a plan here. That’s God showing us the best way of dealing with anxiety is in relationship, not on your own. So knowing that now makes it a lot easier for me to go into this event saying, “Look at these five areas I could really grow in.” As opposed to after 911, I just had no idea what to expect. I was just trying to get back to life before 911 happened and it was so much struggle because I really didn’t know what to look for.
Laurie Watson: How did you get healed? Did you do serious work on that and therapy? I know you’re into all the body somatic therapies and stuff like that. Did you do any of that?
George Faller: I did a little of everything. I mean, I think that was the opening up the resilience that I found. To that George, prior to 911, I was pretty traditional and conservative and macho. All of a sudden it was trying reflexology-
Laurie Watson: You mean, you’re still not that?
George Faller: Well, I’m just a little bit more open and that’s what we’re … It’s all about those levels of engagement, right? I have more things to engage with now, which is pretty cool.
Laurie Watson: That’s lovely.
George Faller: But I really don’t want people listening to think this sounds really easy. You know, this was years in the making for me to grow from a lot of this. And if people would have told me right afterwards, “Oh, all these great things are going to happen.” I would have said, “You’re nuts.” And I wouldn’t have been ready to hear it.
Laurie Watson: Right.
George Faller: But I wouldn’t be here today, talking to you, if it wasn’t for 911 and some of those choices I made afterwards.
Laurie Watson: That’s good. Also since we are Foreplay Radio, Sex and Couples Therapy. So perfect time to experiment and you stuck together. We’ve been posting on Facebook. I don’t know if you know this story, but on Instagram and Facebook, different positions of the day that people can try. Just to give them a little bit of creative push.
George Faller: I like it. I haven’t seen that.
Laurie Watson: You need to go read that.
George Faller: I could use a little creative push myself. I think that’s part of the problem with these kids in the house, too.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, that’s the lovely thing about not having kids in the house. You’re just wide open.
George Faller: One of the things that I am hoping to get out of this disaster is to have more easy conversations with my kids around sex. But I have to listen to what my son said and not push it. I have to wait for the right moment.
Laurie Watson: So, I sent you a book. Did you see that? I sent you a book on-
George Faller: Okay. I didn’t get it yet.
Laurie Watson: I hope you get it while you’re there. Some of the books, Amazon has been telling me, arrived to you. You know you asked me for a book and I’m a pursuer, so I sent you like 20.
George Faller: Thank you for that generosity.
Laurie Watson: But one of them is on, talking to boys about sex, boys and sex.
George Faller: All right.
Laurie Watson: So, I thought that would … I’m really interested in your feedback about that. So, well you guys, our hearts are with you. Our prayers are with you. The losses that you’re facing, both with people and your health and your relationships and your jobs. We know this is a real tough time. We just want you to know that we’re thinking of you, praying for you. Thank you for listening.
George Faller: Yeah, and don’t let this social distancing head you down the path of being more and more lonely. We can get more creative with technology today. We could find ways of reaching out. We are not designed to handle this much stress on our own.
Laurie Watson: That’s right.
George Faller: So please, find ways for connecting. There’s a million different ways of doing it.
Laurie Watson: Pick up the phone. Absolutely.
George Faller: And we’re hoping a disaster like this highlights our true nature, which is to connect.
Laurie Watson: That’s right. Okay. You’re listening to Foreplay Radio. You guys keep it hot.
George Faller: And patient.
Laurie Watson: And warm. And Foreplay family, I want you to know we had our highest download day ever, thanks to you. Our downloads are just increasing by leaps and bounds. We are so grateful for your sharing. Thank you again.,Definitely subscribe. That helps our rankings in iTunes, which is important for us.
Announcer: Call in your questions to the Foreplay Question Voicemail. Dial 833-my foreplay. That’s 833, the number four, play. And we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor.