If you don’t’ have social media or have been living under a rock, you might have missed the abundance of sarcastic posts and memes circulating in regards to partners being stuck together in isolation at home. I’ve lost count of what week we are in, but already I’m hearing the question asked, “how many divorces and breakup might we see when this period is over? ” There is a funny side for some couples, being able to joke about the other chewing too loudly, but on a more serious level, this is putting a lot of stress and strain on many relationships and not in a fun sarcastic or hilarious way. As it looks like this way of life might be here to say a bit longer, it’s important to address some relationship issues now.
- If you haven’t done it already, the first thing you should be doing is working out your new structure and boundaries.
One of the biggest difficulties in a relationship is working out household chores. And we all know an argument about a household chore isn’t just about a household chore. It’s about all the things someone has or hasn’t done to also back up what they have or haven’t done around the home. If you can work out expectations and structure early, it might just be one less argument had. But whilst you are looking at structure, it’s also good to discuss boundaries.
You might never have worked at home before or one person is and the other isn’t. Let your partner know how you work, what space you need and maybe even what area you need to be doing it in. This might change if working at home is a new thing for you and continue to make sure this conversation stays open if you need to amend something or if your arrangement is not working. If you are home schooling children, it’s also important to share the load and work out a structure with who does what as well.
- This is not a time to work on relationship issues from the past.
I don’t want to be too gender specific here but I do want to put out a bit of a warning for the women who might be tempted (I am a woman and If I was in isolation with my partner right now I probably would be tempted to do this too). Now that you are both stuck at home, maybe with a bit more time on your hands, you might think it’s a good idea to bring up all those things from the past. But If you haven’t been able to address things or solve things from the past before, what makes you think things are going to change now in a time where uncertainty, stress and a certain about of anxiety is also at play? And if you do try bring them up and if things get heated, how will you resolve that?
Normally you might have gone out for a bit and given each other a break or blown off some steam in the gym. But besides a walk for exercise and a trip to the local shops, the options are greatly limited. So, what might be left is the two of you bickering at home. Which leads to more bickering and bringing up more issues. You might want to work out your new normal and new structure and work on what is happening right now, but be very careful if you are going to try use isolation as a time for at home couples therapy. The one thing that is useful to work on during this time is your bedroom life. You can only benefit in there.
- Work out how to resolve conflict, quickly.
Relationships have conflict, it’s just part of life and we need to learn how to work through that. The problem here is that normally when there is conflict, it might drag on, someone might sleep in the other room and go to the gym or work early, escaping the awkwardness from the unresolved fight the night before. But when you can’t escape, this is also a time where we want to try and reduce any conflict quickly as there is enough stress and anxiety going on. People are trying to work out how to financially stay afloat or pivot and recreate their business to fit the times. What you don’t’ need is a huge relationship issue weighing you down.
The best way is if you feel things are getting heated, take a moment to have a break, but at the same time commit to when you will pick this conversation up again. Don’t make it a long period, but maybe just a few hours. You might either need to get back to work or take some time to breathe and step away from the issue or conflict to look at it from another point of view and see what underlying issues might be at play. Try do something to calm yourself down which could be just listening to some music or going into another room to have some space. Try and come back to this issues with a more clear and calm mind but also understanding that everyone is under a bit of pressure at the moment and that might be the both of you too.
- Don’t expect everything from each other.
In a relationship, it is unhealthy to put the pressure on your partner to provide all your emotional happiness. When you can share that around and just accept your partner for who they are instead of focusing on everything emotionally they do not provide, that’s when you are able to enjoy them and your relationship. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn on them when you need and they can’t be there for you, but sometimes it good to focus emotionally on others close in your life and not just them. That might mean a family member or a friend. Some might already do this, but those moment might be more in person. A walk with a friend or a night out. This is a time where there is more added emotion and we are all trying to navigate through something different and new. Make sure you continue to share your emotional needs around. Talk to your partner when you need to, share with them what’s going on but also remember to reach out to your network.
- Have fun.
This is a tough time for all. You might have missed celebrating your best friend’s or a family member’s birthday or even your own. You might have had to cancel your own wedding or another celebration that you were planning and looking forward to. There are a lot of struggles and disappointments we are all facing. That’s why is so important to let your hair down with each other and have some fun within your relationships. Let things not just be about surviving and getting through this time but also enjoying the time you have together. Some great ways to do this are:
- Having a date night. Get all dressed up and either cook something yummy together or get your favourite takeaway. Turn the devices off and just be present.
- Have a movie night. But make it a good movie night. Ge the popcorn, maybe even change the furniture around in your lounge room. If you can project it onto a white wall you could pretend you are at the actual movies.
- Have your own party at home. Put on some music, make some cocktails and create your own bar somewhere in the house.
- Have a double date. Jump on line with your fave couple for a few laughs.
- And of course, a bit of kinky fun. It’s time to explore your sexuality together a bit more whilst you are stuck at home.
However, you choose to pass the time, remember, this new normal is not permanent, but it will be here for quite some time. Go easy on each other, nurture your relationship and take each day as it comes. If this has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t really know what is around the corner, so try and enjoy what you have right now, even if that’s just with each other at home.
NB: This is a big huge please note. We joke about those people stuck at home with a partner who is annoying or who is driving them up the wall. However, there are many people now stuck at home with a partner who is abusive, either mentally or physically. If this is you, make sure you reach out to people and services available. Being stuck at home with them is NOT your only option. If you know someone in this situation, please also reach out to connect with them and continue to connect with them.