Whoever said ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ was probably trying to prepare us for being in quarantine with our partners!
I’ve heard from many friends, and can confirm for my own household, that a week away from our significant other would be a welcome change at this point in time. That doesn’t mean we’re not grateful to be holed up with them; being separated for the entirety of this lockdown would be devastating. And having no one to be in quarantine with would be equally challenging for different reasons. But for this post, we wanted to share some insightful tips to help you manage the struggles of being in close quarters with your significant other.
In our line of work, we have an expression about partnership that says “Opposites attract … and then they attack!” Most likely, there are aspects of our partner’s personality that are opposite to our own (if not every aspect of their personality! Ha!) So first and foremost, remember that
You are both different!
This means you’re going to require different things to get through this challenging time. My personality is predominantly people-oriented, so a few weeks into the isolation period, I was looking to my husband to fill the need I had to be with people; to talk, to laugh, to connect. When I spoke with him about this, his response was that he was struggling just as much as I was, and in order to make it through each day, he really needed some time to himself; quiet, alone and without expectations from others. If our opposing needs wasn’t a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is!! We both needed (and still need) 2 entirely different things that were in contradiction to each other. And being able to acknowledge that means neither of us are feeling pressured to be right or wrong. Now I know I need to reach out to others outside of my house, and get in some video-socializing as I’m able, and allow him his alone time to recoup. And likewise, he knows that when he does have some energy to be social, he’s going to be vocal about it and seek me out, so we can spend that time together, versus feeling so distanced and apart (while continuing to share the same 4-walls with each other, day after day).
Busy is the word of the day, it seems, when you ask folks how they’re are doing. But most places are still closed down; how can we possibly be busier than we were before COVID-19 held us hostage in our homes? And what the heck does this have to do with partnership? Well, because some folks just love to be busy – they have a deep seated need to do all the things. While on the other side of the circle, there are those of us who relish the nothingness that filled our calendars at the beginning of this time. And if you’ve ever gone on vacation with your partner, this probably isn’t the first time you’ve had this conversation!
As someone who loves the idea of waking up in the morning with absolutely nothing scheduled, who can leisurely take on the day and (possibly, but without commitment) be inspired by something like a new recipe or a good book I might like to tackle, I was enjoying this aspect of life for the first few weeks of lockdown. Besides, having two small children at home meant I did actually have more than enough obligations to fill my day/schedule with, so the evenings is where I really appreciated the freedom of an open agenda. My husband, however, has been working remotely since the beginning and he’s got a need to do all the things.
Well, I was having none of it! I didn’t care about the flower beds anymore during corona than I have any other year and I certainly didn’t want to spend my precious nothing-time working on this type of undertaking. I’m sure none of you out there can relate!
Maybe in your house it’s not garden beds, but I guarantee you the ‘doer’ of your partnership has picked up a new hobby, started some new project, joined a new online group of some sort … or maybe all 3! And that’s OK. It’s what they need to do for themselves. And if you’re invited to join them and you’re interested to do so, “Hurray!” We call that a relationship-WIN, when you can both be on the same page about something. (Feels great when that happens, doesn’t it?)
But if you’re feeling the need to slow down –still, or again- and ease up on the number of activities or obligations that are filling your day, express this to your partner and encourage them to find solo activities they can participate in, on their own time and at their own pace. Which, for the record, will probably be fast; they’ll want to complete and do everything FAST. And again – that’s okay. Let them. And set boundaries for your own, slower-paced way of life.
When it comes to differences in partners, we could go on all day; the tidy one living with the messy one, the night owl sharing a bed with the early bird, the reader trying to coexist with the tv watcher, and so on and so forth. It’s not all personality-based, but understanding personalities and respecting differences goes a long way in giving our partners some space to meet their own needs, and allowing us to accept how our own needs might be (very!) different from theirs. As always, communication to help set expectations with each other is key.
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