Anytime you hear or read about Mercury Retrograde, it seems like the focus is always on one thing: its potential to unleash chaos and have a whole slew of negative effects on your life — and that includes your love life, too. But exactly how can Mercury Retrograde affect your love life, and what can couples do to make sure their relationship survives it? The few times a year (like right now) when Mercury appears to move backwards through the sky, it's said that our earthly communication gets thrown off, all because Mercury is the ruler of the mind and communication. And since relationships rely so heavily on good communication, it makes sense that Mercury Retrograde can be a tumultuous time for couples — but it doesn't necessarily have to be.
"Mercury Retrograde is not the bad demon people portray it [as]," Jaya Jaya Myra, Author, Speaker, and Natural Health & Lifestyle Expert, tells Bustle. "In fact, it's merely a reminder to look closely at your communication with yourself and those in your life. The fact is, many things can lead to disputes and misunderstandings. If you find yourself in a time period where you are more likely to face these communication problems (times of high stress, life changes, Mercury Retrograde), just pay extra close attention to your communication and note how the other person is receiving it."
Is it possible you'll have a harder time than usual communicating with your partner during Mercury Retrograde? Yes — but it's also a chance to work on improving your communication as a couple, and taking time to connect and reflect on your relationship. If you want to learn how to make the most of the last Mercury Retrograde of 2017 (which runs from Dec. 3 to Dec. 22), here are six things you can do to improve your relationship and grow your connection with your partner.
1. Write Love Letters To Your Partner
If you're feeling a little tongue-tied and can't find the right words to say to express your love to your partner during Mercury Retrograde, it's the perfect time to put pen to paper and write a love letter — that way, you really have time to sift through your thoughts and express them properly.
"[During Mercury Retrograde] there may be delays in communications, technology being uncooperative, and the general advice not to sign big contracts," Dr. Perpetua Neo, Psychologist and Astrocoach, tells Bustle. "But Mercury, ruling communications and mental agility, it can be fab for writing,.. So couples can write love letters to each other. Better still, if these are reflective and gratitude-driven, because Mercury Retrograde is about helping you look backwards and inwards."
2. Revisit Happy Memories From Your Past
Aside from bringing us wacky communication, Mercury Retrograde is also a great time for reflection. Instead of dwelling on the negatives from your romantic history, use this opportunity to think back on all the happy memories you've made with your partner.
"Looking backwards means you can revisit things you've lost touch with," Neo says. "It's often too easy to forget the things you used to enjoy, lost in the whirlwind of life. Mercury Retrograde can be the perfect opportunity to rediscover these and have a good laugh."
3. Take Time To Reflect & Connect
In a long-term relationship, it's so important to express gratitude for your partner. While you're reminiscing on your past, take some time to nurture your connection in the present: tell your partner how grateful you are for them and make an effort to build even more intimacy.
"[Mercury Retrograde] is a great opportunity to slow down, reflect and be grateful," Neo says. "There is some evidence that connecting can trigger higher oxytocin and vasopressin levels, which engenders feelings of closeness in a pair bond."
4. Work On A Project With Your Partner
If you really want to bond with your partner during Mercury Retrograde, look for a project that the two of you can do together (bonus points if it's one you've shelved in the past and are revisiting).
"Mercury Retrograde is great for anything revisionary," Neo says. "So if there's a project that's been shelved or anything to 'edit' and 'improve' upon, that the couple can do together, it will also foster deeper connection. Working towards a shared goal is a great bonding opportunity."
5. Have A "Cleaning Out The Closet" Talk With Your Partner
If you feel there's any "tidying up" to do in your relationship — concerns you need to address, past problems you want to move on from, etc. — Mercury Retrograde is actually a great time to have a talk with your partner (just remember to be careful and aware of how you communicate).
"The Mercury Retrograde period is a great time to have a talk in your relationship," Craig Martin, Astrologer, Spiritual Guide, and Owner of Sage of Stars, tells Bustle. "It may seem counterintuitive but the truth is that the retrograde is highly conducive to a sit-down, clean out the closet, kind of conversation that can make relationships better."
6. Be Positive & Willing To Work On Your Relationship
Instead of living in fear of what might happen to your relationship during Mercury Retrograde, keep a positive attitude and make it your mission to use this time to be extra careful about how you communicate. If you practice active listening, are compassionate toward your partner, and show your love, there's no reason to worry.
"Because difficulties will happen in everyone's life and relationships, Mercury Retrograde is a perfect opportunity to learn valuable skills like conflict resolution, crisis communication, compassion, active listening, etc.," Myra says. "All of those things...make all relationships better. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If life gives you Mercury Retrograde, make sure your intent is being heard, and not a distorted version of it."
Ultimately, Mercury Retrograde is what we make of it, not what it makes of us. So even though it might be slightly alarming to read about how Mercury Retrograde can potentially ruin your relationship, there's no real reason to be afraid: as long as you and your partner have a solid, stable relationship and are enthusiastic about making it even better, Mercury Retrograde is just like any other time of year.