How to Reboot Your Relationship in 90 Minutes

Pandemic relationship repair you can tackle tonight

Emma Pattee
Published in
5 min readNov 27, 2020


Photo: Uwe Krejci/Getty Images

The year 2020 has been a total romance killer. Most of us are stuck at home with our partners, juggling childcare, Zoom schooling, and full-time jobs. We’re stressed about money, Covid, and politics. Plus, we’re all wearing sweatpants… all the time. It’s no surprise that divorces are spiking.

I know of what I speak. The other day, I referred to my husband as “what’s-his-name.”

I asked relationship experts to weigh in and tell us how we can start to heal the cracks that 2020 has made in our relationships. Disclaimer: This is not going to be the hottest date of your life. But you’re not going to get Covid either. So in 2020 terms, that’s pretty hot.

The staring contest (five minutes)

Set a timer for two minutes. Sit across from each other and stare into each other’s eyes without breaking eye contact. Afterward, share any feelings or realizations that came up for you during the exercise.

Eye contact is vital for creating intimacy and attunement. Humans have developed the ability to read subtle emotional cues simply by watching each other’s facial expressions. (If you need inspiration, watch this incredibly touching video.)

I’m very cerebral (which is fancy talk for “afraid of intimacy”) so I found this exercise… awkward. But I did feel much more open with my husband. It created a warm vibe between us that lasted the entire evening.

The roller coaster (20 minutes)

Set the timer for 10 minutes and have one person describe one of their highest moments of 2020 and one of their lowest moments. The other person should only listen, and make sure not to interrupt or add details or comments. Then switch.

This exercise is something that Kiaundra Jackson, a marriage and family therapist, suggests couples do every week. And she says it’s not too…



Emma Pattee
Writer for

Writer from Portland, Ore. Words in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Cut, Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle, and others.