I’ve been in a relationship for 5 1/2 years, and we’ve lived together for a good 80% of that time. We’ve always spent a lot of time together, both actively and passively (just existing in the same room), but like most people, this is the longest stretch of time we’ve ever spent with each other all day, every day. And it’s been… a lot. As I’m writing this, Felix just burst into the living room and exclaimed ‘you promised me cake 2 hours ago, woman!’, before bounding back up the stairs whilst singing a song about the aforementioned cake – cue the biggest sigh and eye roll I’ve emitted this week.
Judging by some of the messages and social posts I’ve seen from other people on the subject of their lockdown relationships, finding some kind of relationship equilibrium in all this seems to be a current struggle for a lot of us.
Now, I know we’re very lucky – for key workers who are putting in extra hours and don’t see their partners, those with abusive partners, those who don’t have partners or who have lost them recently, or those have had to isolate away from partners, I can’t imagine how tough that must be. But for those of us who have gone from (hopefully) a healthy relationship/work/life balance to suddenly no real balance at all, I thought I’d jot down a few ideas on how to make it through lockdown with a relationship still intact.
01. Try and find some time apart.
Easier said than done right now, right?!
I’m currently on furlough from work, whilst my boyfriend is working his usual hours from home, so on weekdays he spends most of his time in the office, whilst I get on with whatever in other rooms. We also have a dog who needs a lot of exercise (I’m guessing most of you have seen Astrid on my insta by now!), so I’m currently on morning walk duty whilst Felix takes on the evening walk, meaning we can both get outside separately at the moment. Finding these short moments apart can be really helpful for avoiding cabin fever.
Scheduling certain times to be in different places can also avoid the temptation to ask each other ‘whatcha doing?’ every three seconds (we’re both very guilty of this, and it’s suuuper annoying for the person who’s trying their best to get on with something else), and means you might actually have more to talk about together.
02. Consider veto-ing certain topics for a while
Being in lockdown is hard for everyone, without the addition of having difficult conversations when the option to walk around the block to cool down after things get heated is off the table. This one might not be for everyone, but if you know certain topics really get under each other’s skin or are more likely to lead to an argument, it might be worth considering avoiding them for a while.
We’re a couple that challenges each other, frequently annoys each other and can be prone to bickering – and that’s without throwing a global pandemic into the mix! We have a lot of different opinions on a lot of topics – on everything from political views to Netflix choices – and that can be a tricky thing to balance at the best of times. So making a conscious decision to not engage each other in topics that usually lead to big disagreements has been useful for us – whether that means an overall agreement just not to talk about certain things for a while, or to both being able to stop a conversation that feels like it’s on the edge of becoming an argument.
03. Try and use this time to make some good memories at home.
I know, ‘hey, remember that time we had to stay inside for months due to a global pandemic?’ doesn’t sound like something you’re going to want to reminisce about when this is all over, but getting creative with some indoor activities to give you a few positive things to remember when all this is over can only be a good thing.
Maybe you make an epic pillow fort together in the living room that you won’t take down for a whole month, or you watch every single MCU movie back to back over the course of a few days. I’ve seen people holding mini festivals in their own houses, undertaking big house projects together, growing vegetables from seed and having living room picnics – as long as you can do it at home, why not get creative and try and enjoy all this extra time together if you can?
04. Getting a bit stricter with who does what.
There’s nothing worse right now than feeling like you’re the only one doing anything to keep the house in check, whilst the other one lies on the sofa for hours, throwing handfuls of crumbs all over your newly hoovered floor whilst the washing-up pile teeters on the edge of collapse and the dirty clothes cover every inch of the bedroom floor… Whilst this image is a tad extreme, if you’re both home, you should both be pitching in with the housework equally as much as you can.
For us, as Felix is still working and I’m on furlough, I’ve taken on most of the housework for now – which was my suggestion, as I actually enjoy a good hoovering session, and I tend to be the one who gets most uncomfortable around mess (I am most definitely the Monica in our relationship!). That being said, there are certain jobs that are his to do, and he also helps out with other stuff now and then so I don’t feel too much like I’m doing everything.
05. Trying to be more forgiving with each other.
Everyone is going through a lot right now, and it may not always come out in the way you expect. There seem to be a lot of mood swings going on in our house right now, and for the most part we’re trying to just go with it and be more forgiving of each other as much as we can.
There are obvious exceptions to this, and of course if you’ve been a bit of a dick you should still apologise, not just expect the person on the receiving end to just forget about it with no discussion, but everyone being a bit snappy now and again is just part of this unprecedented thing that we’re all living through. So try not to hold to much of a grudge if your partner snaps at you for eating the last bag of crisps from the snack stash, and just put it down to the fact that we’re all still adjusting to this new normal, and have for the time being regressed a little to our volatile teenage selves.
Hopefully this small list of ideas might help you find more of a balance in your relationship during lockdown, and in this ever-changing, strange time find a little bit more comfort in being locked down with someone you (hopefully!) love. Let me know if any of these tips have helped you in the comments below.
NB: Obviously, there are some circumstances that can’t be worked through, and if you’re in an abusive relationship or think you might be, I’ve included a few resources below to help you get the help you need: