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Let’s be real.
If you’re partnered up with someone, staying at home for over a year now might also mean that:
You’re both working at home, blurring (if not shattering) the lines between work and life.
You find that you’re around each other way more than you used to be and in each other’s space and business. While it might have been a cool thing in the beginning, it could be getting a tad cozy (or stress-inducing) at this point.
You are feeling like you don’t have enough time for yourself in ways that you used to have (time with friends and family outside of the house). And what about time to unwind on your own?
You’re experiencing the overwhelm of maintaining a job at home and making sure your kids are staying in the “sane zone.” At the same time, keeping yourself out of negative self-talk and spiraling.
You could be worried about finances and when the next paycheck or stimulus check will land in your bank account. That’s not stress or panic-inducing at all. Er. Right…not!
Maybe you’re drinking more at home to numb out what’s happening in the world. While you might feel good in the moment, ultimately drinking adds to the experience of depression and anxiety (which then slides you into the cycle of wanting to drink more). For the same result. Annoying how that happens.
You’re consumed with worry over staying safe and protecting yourself and your family from covid, but at the same time, find that irritation (and maybe some jealousy) shows up for others who appear to be living as freely as they used to. What the heck?!
You might grip onto fears that your partner is losing interest in you. Or you might be worried that you’re losing interest in your partner. For those of you in long-term relationships, this might seem natural—until it takes you places you don’t want to go.
The list goes on and on.
The hub and I deploy (either together or on our own) the following tactics on an almost daily basis as we roll though the wheel of feelings that seem to be more vivid and all over the place (I know you know what I’m talking about):
1. Evaluate what my future self will appreciate about how I handled, managed, and/or leaned into my strengths (and examined my weaknesses) during the pandemic. For me, I want to feel like I didn’t neglect our relationship or take our relationship for granted. I check in with myself and the hub (much to his annoyance). I know I don’t want to numb out or invite in the experience of control over something that I have none.
I continually ask myself what the ideal outcome might be whenever something shows up for me that might not be good for the relationship (those moments when whatever “it” is wants to slip out of my mouth). I find that I want to ensure that respect is supported for our relationship. Focusing on the ideal outcome helps that.
2. We look for ways to create some semblance of what 2019 looked like. For this, we say to each other, “Have a good day, I love you,” and kiss each other goodbye as the hub walks to his workplace (our den) and I leave for mine (the loft). We smile whenever this happens, which feels good.
3. We find moments when we can invite laughter into our daily experience. We attempt to find something funny on a daily basis that we can share together. Be it a meme, a TV show, or sharing our dry humor. Or just being plain silly (which is usually my responsibility—ha!).
4. We create space from each other in a way that feels good, but not like it’s an escape from each other (well, maybe it is an escape, but not one that threatens the relationship). For me, this means meditating or reading or taking a long walk or studying or prepping for clients. Or jumping on a group text or Zoom call with my girlfriends. Or getting sucked into a Netflix binge.
For the hub, it’s watching car shows on TV, staying up on the news, texting his buddies, or researching things he might want to add to our home after the pandemic comes to an end. (I respectfully nixed the idea of motorcycle—or tried to, at least!)
And then we check in with each other when it’s time to reconnect. We spend Saturday night (date nights) in our den or living room and trade off who gets to pick what we watch on TV.
5. Above all, we stay curious and committed to each other. We ask, “What was that like for you? How was your day? How did you feel when whatever happened? What do you think about that thing? What will be helpful for you in this moment? What will make this a tad better for you? What might one us want to say but don’t want to say that is being driven by fear and restlessness?”
We practice gentleness and respect with each other, even when we don’t feel like it. If it gets tough, we take a break until one or both of us has reset.
This stuff takes work and continuous commitment—which seems to be what is necessary to survive covid, continue to love each other, and want to be together. Practice can become permanent.
What would you do for your relationship?
What could the relationship want while there is so much uncertainty?
What does your relationship deserve?