Couple-Centered Design for Covid

What is this all about?

Covid has made life difficult for people all over the world for all kinds of reasons. We decided that we’d use some of our skills and experiences to provide some help for couples who are finding Covid confinement and concerns a challenge. 

We’ve published a small book and workbook that innovate on design thinking techniques to provide couples a way to work through challenges in a collaborative way. The name SEXY is an acronym for the four-step process: specific, empathetic, existential and you, not me. Yes, the name is meant to be playful since we’re dealing with couples, but the process is serious and well-designed.

Please download the books, try the exercises and, hopefully, we can all get through this together stronger. Get in touch and join our Facebook group if you’d like some help or want to share.

Click to download the books for free

How might we get through this as a stronger couple?

As much as you adore your “other,” lockdown isn’t easy on couples. And chances are we’ll all be facing some version of forced togetherness for a while. While no one really knows, it’s likely that our communities will be in some form of stop-start isolation until there is widespread availability of a vaccine, which could be up to two years from now. Let’s hope it’s a “when,” not an “if.”

That’s a hang of a long time to deal with forced togetherness combined with health fears, financial distress and all the other pandemic challenges. And we can be sure of one thing: anything that’s been going in a relationship before Covid will be amplified by Covid. Any cracks, frictions, misunderstandings, or problems with sex will be ten times more visible. 

Even the strongest of couples are going to find this tough. 

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that this hyper-visibility can be used to your advantage. Just as problems are amplified, so is the ability to find solutions. Which means this moment presents couples with an incredible opportunity.

It might boil down to how to get through any single day without eroding what you have. But it could also be possible to emerge from this stronger, precisely because you were a little bit stronger every day.

We wrote this guide for exactly this purpose, because we too want to come through this stronger and we think we have some ideas for how.

Why Design Thinking and Why Now?

We aren’t therapists or professionals in the relationship game. However, we are problem solvers and experts in our own relationship because we live it. We’ve worked professionally together for almost a decade. We started four companies; two failed, two succeeded. We’re in the process of starting two more. 

We’ve been through wonderful highs and difficult lows — family losses, major medical issues, job losses, financial distress. You may find that list to be familiar in today’s Covid environment — fears about losing a loved one, getting sick, losing a job and not being able to pay bills are top of mind for people around the world. Our marriage has thrived over the years despite big challenges because we’ve been intentional in tackling them together. We hope our methods may be helpful to others facing big challenges now.

“Design thinking is a perfect template for problem solving with the ultimate team — a couple.”

For years we’ve helped companies solve thorny problems — from ethical dilemmas in artificial intelligence to how to size a market for a new kind of satellite. We think design thinking is a fast, fun and effective way for teams to solve problems and find new opportunities together. It’s a perfect template for problem solving with the ultimate team — a couple.

For those of you who have used design thinking tools or practice Human-Centered Design yourself, many of the principles will be familiar. But many will not because we have customized the standard process to recognize that there is not one unique, overarching user need — there are actually two individual needs nested in one. Solving for two-as-one is a unique design challenge that hasn’t been tackled, as far as we can tell.

We have customized the process to be SEXY. Yes, that’s right. 

  • S:     Specific
  • E:     Empathetic
  • X:     Existential
  • Y:     You, not me

Now that we have your attention, let’s talk about how this is organized.

How this Works

This toolkit is organized as follows:

  • We open with expert insights — key ideas from top experts we follow from across the psychology, therapy and coaching worlds. 
  • We then take you through the actual work: what to do, how to do it. We provide a complete set of templates and instructions with tips for success.
  • We’ve included a real-word example from Jack & Jill going through the process. This example is based on real-life but we have changed the names and some details to “protect the innocent.”
  • You can work through all of this with just a pen and paper. You can also use the companion SEXY Workbook which has pre-formatted templates for all these exercises. The workbook is also free to download and print out at home. You can also experience the full design thinking experience by using post-its on a wall or window.
  • You’ll want two copies of the Workbook, two sets of paper or two sets of post-its. Each of you need to put pen to paper and contribute to the process. 
  • Throughout the process, we use the phrase “alone, together.” That means that you are working on something on your own in the presence of the other. It’s important to think about things on your own but do it together as a team.  

Like we said, we aren’t therapists, so caveat, disclaimer, fine print, attempt at your own risk. But DO TRY THIS AT HOME. 

We would love to hear your experiences. Please join our Facebook group to share with us and others. 

Helen and Dave Edwards