Recipe For Love

BY: MELISSA BERMAN
JUNE 6, 2021

When a romantic vacation in Italy, morphs into a 10-month quarantine on a 200 square foot houseboat, a relationship can find itself in a real sink or swim situation.

Just ask Michelle Peters, a music tour manager and actor from New York City, who was visiting her boyfriend, Mick Conroy, the bass player from Modern English, in London, for what they thought would be a fun few weeks together in March 2020. “We were meant to fly out to Italy on March 11th, and March 9th we went into lockdown,” Michelle recalls. With the pandemic frenzy, she was unable to get back to the States, so she grabbed some essentials while Mick hurried to buy them a TV and, together with their dog Skipper, headed to Mick’s very small houseboat in Suffolk.

this is a boat

The pandemic also put a hard stop on both their professional lives. “Every tour was cancelled, the band could not be together to write and record.” Michelle remembers them processing what was unfolding, and adds “everyone had to change their hopes. It became obvious that it was going to affect, not only the music industry, but all of humanity.” The couple decided they needed a daily routine to navigate life on a boat built for a day cruise. “I could maybe go 7 feet away from him.” Michelle explains, “trying to give you an idea of how ridiculously small this space is.” They were permitted outside for one hour a day, which they allotted to walking the dog. “And then, every other week we got to go to the grocery store, now that was exciting!”

Before your mind jumps to the scene where one of them throws the other overboard, spoiler alert, this tale has a very happy ending.

While Michelle filled her daily schedule with webinars and business meetings, Mick sat across the small kitchen table, with his portable recording gear at the ready, and worked on new music, collaborating with band mates via zoom. As Michelle puts it, “four hours a day we were doing our own things – even though we could literally spit on each other.” Mick got his creative juices flowing before 5pm when it was time to pack up his ‘studio’ and put it in the cabinet, so they had space to prepare dinner. They made a ritual of cooking together and like land faring quarantine couples, they did a lot of binge watching on Netflix.

Another thing that was accelerated, was their commitment to each other. After nearly 10 months of life together, Michelle was finally able to book a ticket back to New York. She was online making her reservation and noticed Mick rifling through the overhead storage. He turned around and handed her a small box with an engagement ring and said “here.”

And she said “yes!!”

a couple

The newly engaged couple went on to buy a house in Upstate New York, via zoom, and will be happily married there this Autumn in their garden.

If this story makes you want to find the person you’d want to be stranded with, relationship expert Jaime Bronstein has a few tips. Jaime is a relationship therapist, coach, and host of “Love Talk Live”. She works with both couples and singles, to guide them as they navigate the highs and lows of dating and relationships.

Jaime notes that, unlike our love-boat couple, many relationships struggled during the pandemic, as underlying issues were brought to the surface, giving some the opportunity to work things through and others the realization that it was time to go their separate ways. Says Jaime, “it’s all okay because they will be happier in the end.”

“Moving forward, it will be important for couples to cultivate compassion for, and really listen to one another. Both people in the couple should feel completely comfortable sharing how they are feeling. Make sure to avoid saying: ‘you shouldn't feel that way,’ as it undermines the other person. All you need to do is validate each other, so neither one feels like they have to be defensive. When we don't feel validated or heard, we start to build walls and then stress levels rise.” To break these walls, she recommends:

Every day ,at the end of the day, say one thing for which you are grateful about your partner.

Reminisce: Often, when couples get stuck in a rut, it's because they are only focused on the negative aspects of the current climate of their relationship. Looking back and reminiscing on simpler, happier times together, can help to reignite the spark.

Create a daily check-in time: Whether it's over coffee in the morning, dinner, or right before bed, designate a time everyday to check in about your life.

Monthly relationship check-in: Once a month, find time to sit down and connect. Be very honest, vulnerable, and raw with one another about how you are feeling in the relationship, what you need, and what you're not getting. Express all of the positives in your relationship as well! This creates a safe space for each person to feel seen and heard. Naturally, the couple will feel more connected, and a deep love will prevail once again.

For those seeking to find and build a new relationship, she encourages single people to get excited and hopeful about meeting someone. “Nothing is holding you back now. Be courageous, and show up as your authentic self, in order to bring in the right match for you. Step out of “fear mode,” and step into “faith mode!”

She notes that the pandemic changed, and limited dating in some ways, but adds a positive angle, “People could not meet in person right away, so they started forming deeper connections, which was very beneficial.” Now that limitations are being lifted, “Remember that everyone is in the same boat, and people are trying to slowly acclimate again to the dating scene. Don’t push yourself; go at your own pace and don't be afraid to ask questions that you feel you need to ask. She reminds singles getting back out there to “Feel grateful that you CAN be dating again and have fun, feel alive and be authentic.”

According to Bronstein, you’ll know you are showing up as your authentic self if:

  1. You love yourself unconditionally.
  2. You trust yourself and your intuition / gut instinct.
  3. You don't judge yourself.
  4. You know that you're always doing the best you can.
  5. You've forgiven yourself.
  6. You are present and don't live with regret.
  7. Your heart is open.
  8. You know your worth and that you are deserving and capable of love.
  9. You know who you are and what you have to offer to a relationship.
  10. You have healed the past and any unresolved issues you were holding onto.

At Kat Burki, we celebrate love every day. It’s what makes us glow from the inside out. Remember to always follow your heart, we’ll be right there with you.

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