These are strange times! I’m aware I have readers from all over the world and each country is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic differently, restricting movement of people to varying degrees.
Lockdown, quarantine, self-isolation, restricted movement, stay at home, social distancing, flatten the curve, work from home, slow down the spread, protect the NHS – these words are all now common parlance!
Since the epicenter was in China, we may be able to gauge where we’re heading by what’s happening there…China are seeing a significant spike in divorce applications from couples coming out of isolation.
Steve, my husband and I, obviously, love each other but like any couple, have our ups and downs! We prefer not to have blazing rows but we’re capable of a few harsh words. We’re struggling with this situation for different reasons but we know we’re going to get through it together because we work at our relationship.
I’m writing this blog because it would be sad to follow China’s lead, relationships don’t need to be doomed. Some of these suggestions may seem common sense but I think it’s fair to say in these uncertain times people are acting out of character and we can all do with a bit of reminding that sometimes the simple things are the best things:
Hold onto the things that are the same
Some people are working from home, try to home school children and/or manage an unusual living situation, these things will feel destabilising but there will be some things that are the same. Can you eat meals together? Is your morning or bedtime routine the same? Is there a TV programme you both like to watch together? Anything that anchors your relationship will help you feel stable.
You may think “but we’re spending too much time together, that’s the problem”. But date time is special time. If you have other people in the house it might be difficult but it’s important to set time aside, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes for a coffee together (but the longer the better!) to set technology aside and focus on each other. If you’re fortunate to have more time alone, you could play a board game or give each other a massage.
If you’re giving to other people all the time, you’re strung out and exhausted, you can’t pour from an empty cup! Your relationship’s going to suffer because we always take our frustrations out on those closest to us. Living on top of each other can be difficult. Don’t underestimate how beneficial going outside for fresh air is, whether it’s onto a balcony, the back garden or for a walk if permitted. You take this opportunity to learn a new hobby, crafting or reading may not have previously been your thing but maybe give it a go!
Give and take
With so many routines changing it might be difficult to stay on top of the household chores or you might find yourselves bit more messy than usual. As the situation changes people might need change the responsibilities they have. I don’t envy the parents suddenly home schooling and those who’ve never worked from home suddenly have to adapt. Sometimes, stepping back from the situation and writing a list or a timetable for who does what when might stop the situation from getting out of hand.
Communication – I’ve left the most important ‘til last!
Understanding what each other need is so important and this is only going to come if you talk to each other! This next part is so important – no one can mind read! If you’re feeling grumpy, fed-up, overwhelmed, sad or pissed off just say so. If you’re not sure how you feel and you’re not sure why, just say so! If you want to be left alone, say so. If you want to have a cry, say so.
Talk to each other about what you need! Are you an introvert or an extrovert? I’m an introvert, so managing the isolation fairly well. My husband is an extrovert so the aspect that’s hit him hardest is not being able to see his friends. My husband uses technology every day whereas getting to grips with multiple platforms (to stay connected with various people) quickly has been overwhelming for me. As genuinely fantastic as technology is, I’ve found large WhatsApp groups intrusive and long video conference calls exhausting!
I don’t need to remind you the most important part of communication is the listening part! Most people listen to reply – don’t be most people, listen so that you understand your partner.