One of the things I constantly remind my couples of is how different partners think. I feel like I say something like “remember – opposites attract” or “you two think differently” almost once a session. The way that couples think about the current situation relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is probably no different. I was talking to a friend and she said that she was fearful that her partner wasn’t taking the cautions seriously enough and it was making her worry about her own health. She has some situations which make her more susceptible than others. Another couple I meet with had different thoughts about the quarantine. One described their reaction to that of a snow day while the other was trying to figure out how they would deal with working at home amid the distractions.
Whatever you and your mate think, there are going to be some definite changes in your routines. It is likely that you and your mate are used to having 8-10 hours apart from one another and now one or maybe both of you are working from home. This is bound to have complications on even the healthiest couples. Officials in China’s Sichuan Province reported Chinese people experienced marital discord dealing with quarantines. They reported that because the couples were spending more time together, it led to fights and increased divorce rates.
With the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and quarantines in place, I want to offer some suggestions and ideas to make the situation more positive for couples who just may have different thoughts about what working from home and being quarantined means.
Make the best use of your space
You and your spouse might want to discuss and agree on separate and designated work spaces. Creating work spaces that are away from common areas such as living rooms and kitchens can give you or your partner personal space to conduct business. Disruptions to routines are difficult as it is, so giving one another some degree of routine like going to work can be helpful. It can be really hard for someone to focus on work if they don’t have a quiet space.
Honoring their work
For some partners, being off work can feel like a snow day. They are able to get a lot of work done around the house, exercise, and watch Netflix. Watching this can be hard enough on a partner who has to keep up with work responsibilities. They are still going to work and might have feelings about your free time. Because you are on different schedules, it might be helpful to honor their work time by not interrupting. Being mindful of your mate’s schedule might include agreements on when or if you should interrupt them. How many times have you been working on a project only to have a child yell, “Mom!” or a husband start talking to you without any awareness of what you are doing? Remember that feeling when you are about to just walk into the office or bedroom when your spouse is working.
Some people need alone time. Not everyone thrives on constant contact. It is important to honor the possibility that your partner could use some time to unwind after work. I didn’t realize that my mate used the World News to decompress after work. I just started mindlessly talking about what I was thinking. I was really grateful to know that she was just trying to unwind and although doing Sudoku was unwinding. Just think about the missing car ride home or the few minutes we are normally granted when we get out of the house to go to work.
Connection to the outside world
Lastly, it is so important to a relationship to have outside interests and other social contacts. Just because we cannot go meet a friend for coffee or tea doesn’t mean we cannot get creative and connect. Schedule a virtual date with a friend or make sure that you are calling and connecting with others. It can be a big burden for a partner to feel like you are their only means of support.
This is a time of uncertainty and you and your spouse will need to make concessions. You probably shouldn’t hibernate and make your partner deal with everything alone, nor should you bop into your mate’s office space and tell them what the kids are doing now or start a conversation like “you know what I was thinking…” This is a time for understanding differences and good planning.
If you are in need of more support during this time of many unknowns, call or email to schedule now. I am continuing to see couples via telehealth.