Pretty sure there aren't any self-help books about this particular scenario!
As we head into another 3 weeks of self-isolation (26 days to be exact, but who's counting?), if you happen to quarantining with your significant other (SO), they may well be the only person you see for the best part of the month.
Being cooped up indoors is, of course, a small price to pay to help halt the alarming speed at which the coronavirus is spreading, but that doesn't mean it's always fun. Or easy! Even for the strongest couples, spending every waking minute of the day together (and nighttimes too) can really throw any incompatibilities into sharp focus.
Before this global pandemic upended our lives, most people – myself included – only really spent time with our romantic partners for a few hours in the evenings and at weekends. Now, whether you're newly dating, engaged or married, we've all been catapulted into this new reality of 24/7 contact, with no obvious end in sight.
Governments and relevant authorities keep repeating that we're navigating uncharted territory in terms of COVID-19 and public health, but isolation is a pretty unique environment for your relationship to survive in too!
Here are some on flattening the curve while keeping your relationship intact...
Set A Schedule
Not exactly a hot take, but most of us rely on schedules for a sense of stability and even to combat things like anxiety and depression. So, without our normal 9-to-5 routines, tempers might already be a little frayed.
Try minimising conflicts by creating a rough schedule to add some structure to your days together. Psychologists say this is particularly helpful for couples navigating working from home together for the first time. Depending on both of your work styles and requirements, understanding what each other's days look like can help foresee any issues and areas where you can compromise.
Planning in some alone time is also crucial. You and your SO need time apart from each other to recharge and ensure that you don’t rip each other’s eyes out. But try to coordinate them, this way, when you’re having your alone time, your partner can have theirs, too.
Tension can arise when both of you have different expectations, as to how your days are going to go. Your partner might be used to working in total silence whilst on the clock, while you may assume that the two of you will be chatting throughout the day. You might see the evenings as a time to get some much-needed fresh air, while your partner might prefer to put their feet up.
Experts advise being mindful that we are, indeed, different people with different needs, and it’s important for us to be able to do things differently during this ambiguous, endless ambiguous, endless period. Try not to take decisions too personally either; if they don't want small talk, fine! If they don’t want to join you for a walk, that’s probably great, too. Frustrating as it can be, try to respect their choices.
Find Your Own Solutions
If you've already had the thought, 'Ugh, my partner is annoying me so much today!', firstly remember we're very much in the honeymoon phase of isolation, where people are still being quite tolerant and thoughtful! Secondly, when smaller conflict arises, try to take care of as much of it as you can on your own.
For example, rather than resenting your partner for speaking too loudly on a call, go and get your earphones. Problem-solving is a lot easier when we act fast and aren't bogged down by feelings, by ego, by all sorts of things around the issue itself.
Learn To Fight Well
Communication is key in any relationship, but when you are quarantined together 24/7, being open and honest with each other is even more important. Part of this is learning to fight well; meaning being empathetic, and not engaging in minimizing or shaming, and you've heard it a million times, but now is the time to put it into practice: use 'I statements'.
Both you and your SO are going to be a little more unhinged than usual and might be prone to losing it for what feels like ‘no reason’ – and that’s okay! Let's try to give ourselves and our partner grace.
Switch things up
When you're not tied to your desks, keep things interesting by seeking out some novelty in the monotony. If you’re one of those couples who live together but barely ever sees each other due to conflicting schedules or social lives, now’s the time to reconnect. Quarantine days allow you as a couple to enjoy uninterrupted time together, a luxury you might not typically have. So, why not use it to do something that you've always wanted (from the safety of your own home, of course)!
Share in each other's passions, cook a new cuisine together, start a DIY project together, enjoy the extra time in bed to try something new, write a list of all the things you're going to do as a couple when this uncertainty eventually ends.
Or put away all distractions and start working your way through a list of questions, like this one –you may be surprised by what else you can learn about each other.
Just think, you could actually come out the other side of isolation all the stronger.
Main image by @charli_xcx on Instagram