Updated: Mar 7
How's your relationship holding up in tight quarters?
Everyone knows that "absence makes the heart grow fonder". So what does seeing each other every minute of every day do? Anyone will tell you that a healthy relationship involves giving each other space to do things separately; to grow individually as people... or at least to go for drinks or lunch with friends sans-partner once in a while. What are we supposed to do when that literally isn't an option?
Even if you're not in actual quarantine, there currently isn't much of an option to do things away from your live-in partner. Day in and out, you're together, for better or worse. In a way, it almost feels like practice for the season of retirement, when the outside world will start to melt away, leaving only the two of you to find quiet and peace. Sounds nice. Except most of us are not yet in that golden sunset stage; we're young and we have energy and we haven't spent fifty years working on the relationship and learning how to be together through all the quiet... and let's face it: It isn't easy!
Space to Be Alone & Time to Be Together
Both my partner and I (no matter how much we like hanging out together) both value our personal space. Even before all this began, we had dedicated spaces in our apartment to do our own thing. Now more than ever, we know how important it is to respect that private space, and the time we need to be separate.
Before the age of isolation, a lot of people in partnerships can probably relate to the magic of the "stolen time". With lives being so busy and hectic, and partners often running on opposite schedules, it was easy to appreciate a few minutes together in between. A quick text during a lunch break, bringing you back to the days of butterflies and dating; Setting your alarm five minutes earlier than usual, just to spend that "stolen" time together before leaving for work. Now that that time is abundant and no longer feels as coveted or precious, how can we make that time together still feel special?
Again, I'm coming back to the idea of intention. Being intentional about time together seems to be a good strategy. Setting aside specific time to do something together can make it feel like more of a "date" than a "well, there's nothing better to do". Watch a movie alone together, play a board game... whatever. So, you may not normally be puzzle-people... it can always be jazzed up with some music and a couple of drinks. These are the cards right now, so Go Fish.
We have also found that a new kind of partnership etiquette is important in the re-division of the workload. Have you had this discussion? Is one of you now at home full-time while the other goes to work? Are you both home? How has that changed the dynamics of finances, childcare, home-making etc? It's a component of the relationship that may have shifted and deserves a proper talk!
This isn't Normal
You might be struggling with the little things right now, or even grappling with bigger philosophical differences. No matter how much you love someone and love spending time with them, nobody signed up for THIS. The jokes on social saying that this is a "test" of relationships just isn't true... because this is so far from the normal. Although I'm loving spending more time than normal together with my partner, the balance of time apart is just as important as the moments spent together.