Today marks five years since our first date. Well, I didn’t think it was a date until we showed up to the restaurant and it was only the two of us. But here we are: a home, a dog, a pending wedding, five trips around the sun, and stuck inside self, ahem, dual-isolating.
Wow. I love Alex endlessly, but quarantine really magnifies every little thing your significant other does. The good. The bad. The ugly. I have no doubt he feels the same way. Because he’s told me.
Being on top of each other is one thing. But it’s compounded by:
- the stressful state of the world
- financial pressure and unpredictability
- job/market insecurity, or layoffs
- balancing the worries of kids or other family members
- extremely long hold times with the bank/airlines/phone providers
- general uncertainty of when the hell will this end???
Then every couple has their household-specific problem — ours being the partially paid for wedding that’s just hanging in the balance.
Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool-cool-cool.
Your partner is bound to be the place you release this tension, and vice versa. After all, they’re in firing distance 24/7 right now. But there are ways to mitigate the irritation you cause each other.
Isn’t this the golden rule for relationships? Now is no different. A huge mistake I made in the past was having an expectation or need, and not communicating it.
If it helps your sanity to have the kitchen cleaned up right after a snack is prepared and eaten, speak up. Give a little info that makes them understand why this compounds your stress, as opposed to just being bossy for the sake of.
If you need some affection, ask for it. I’m guilty for this, a lot. Whether it’s needing time alone or wanting the kitchen to myself for a work out, I often just start doing the thing I need and get annoyed Alex pops his head in or starts making a sandwich.
It seems so simple. But avoidance or trying not to nag is a major mental health no-no. You don’t have to be a cow about it. Your partner will respond a lot better to your loving explanation and be happy to help. They’ll also get the green-light to speak up about their needs too.
Create a routine and schedule
This is huge. In self-isolation and life.
Things are absolutely not normal right now, and there’s room for flexibility on things like work hours, meal times, and activities. That doesn’t mean giving yourself a little routine won’t help with boundaries and expectations between the two of you.
Chat about what meals you’re sharing each day, and what time you’d like to eat. Set work outs or walk times and be clear whether those are solo activities or you’d like to go together.
We’ve implemented a no-drink-before-5pm rule. Alex has a step and workout target for each day. I have my lists. And we’re both maintaining normal(ish) work hours.
It all means less surprises, less floating around aimlessly, and more sanity!
Do things alone
We are both fiercely independent. So being in 1,000 square feet without our usual freedoms is trying. I would do a lot of very terrible things for a hot yoga class, a face-to-face client meeting, a manicure, or some girl time.
But we can’t. So we won’t.
However, it’s crucial in a partnership to miss each other. After a crazy day isn’t it awesome to sit down to dinner with your partner and hash out the day’s happenings? We’ve lost that magic.
Claim a room for yourself for a few hours a day. Give yourself some solo reading time. Hit up FaceTime with a friend you haven’t chatted with in a while. Take a walk alone. Move your body. Watch trash TV.
When you emerge from your alone time you’ll be happy to see your partner. Not thinking, “ugh, you again?”
Do things together
So dining out and the cinema aren’t options right now. That doesn’t mean you need to coexist and not connect.
Find a game you both like. Cook a new dish together. Walk somewhere new. Hang out with another couple on Zoom. Trade massages. Do a meditation together.
Try to find a few minutes of quality time each day, so you avoid sliding into roommate territory watching TV together each night and simply coexisting.
Not today, not tomorrow, but one day, this will all be over. We’ll go back to our busy lives and run home to our partners excited to tell them all about what’s happened. Until then, be patient. With your partner and with yourself.
His loud chewing, constantly unwiped counters, and pacing while he thinks are annoying. Sure. But he makes a mean spicy Moscow mule, stays on top of the laundry, always lets me sit on the comfiest part of the couch, and does a million other little things I’m grateful for.
There’s no one I’d rather be trapped with. There’s no one I’d rather have spent the last five years with. And there’s no one I’d rather spend my life with.
Happy Anniversary, Bub xx