Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande may have found joy in quarantining with bae, but for the rest of us, the walls may have closed in.
When I was formally notified of my work from home (WFH) status I was not expecting my private life to also shift. Soon after my WFH status came into effect, I quickly realized that our “normal” would never be normal again. Our individual stressors with the pandemic, work adjustments, stress and concerns for our family in New York and abroad turned into arguments over small matters such as the dishes in the sink, his loud work meetings, my “loud” typing, my need to have privacy or quiet for my work phone calls. Our once fairly large one bedroom quickly felt like a small studio.
To find reason within this “new normal” I did some research on relationship trends during quarantine. My research found most couples were leaning towards divorce or separation. Even worse, the research hinted at the “potential of a post pandemic divorce boom based on post-quarantine divorce trends in China However, I wondered what about couples that were not looking to separate but needed some help in adjusting to the intermix of working from home and their personal lives? Instead of separating there has to be a way to retrain our minds and our relationships to adapt to our current situation?
Whether you or your partner are working from home, a mandated frontline or essential worker, or temporarily home until you are cleared to return to work, there is a new level of stress (i.e. mental, physical, emotional ) that is directly and indirectly affecting your temperament and energy. Reestablishing communication can focus on being more aware of each other’s individual stressors. For example, if working from home is new for you but not for your partner, it might be beneficial to establish some “work guidelines” for work day or communicating each other’s needs for work day effectiveness. This can help minimize the stress of work from home or remaining sensitive to each other’s work habits.
Another example of re-establishing communication is having spaces or blocks of time in which to talk about the week. Working from home or seeing the person on a more regular basis than “pre COVID-19” does not automatically mean that you are synced or know what is happening with the other person, or understanding their stressors, or emotions towards the current pandemic. People are responding in different ways and have emotions that you may not have seen before. Checking in with your partner helps to minimize the assumptions, and bring you closer together.
Get to know your Partner Again
Stress, whether it is mental, emotional, psychological or physical can put a lot of wear and tear on an individual’s mental and physiology. High stress can put a weight on your household, partnership and yourself as an individual. In order to re-establish communication, restructure a new normal, why not get to know your partner again? Your partnership will be continuously tested through the good, bad and ugly. High stress environments (such as our current pandemic) can either bring people closer together or break them apart. Why not take the time to observe, and focus on how you can get to know your partner again? You might learn some new things about the person and can help bring you closer together. It might also help to re-ignite your spark!
Keep Date A Night
Although most of us are under stay at home orders or “lite” stay at home orders, traditional date nights will be difficult to maintain. Also, because of the intermix of work life and personal life, date nights may not seem so necessary since you are seeing the person more than usual. Keeping a weekly date night could be a great time to not just have dinner together but to talk, have a check-in moment. For date night you could try a new restaurant curbside experience, a new recipe or maybe that lingerie piece that has been sitting in your closet for that vacation that has been officially cancelled.
Re-Establishing Limits and Boundaries
With the commingling of personal and work lives at home, and everyone at home, it is difficult to continue that Sunday self-care regimen that you worked so hard to establish. Now is the time to re-establish your limits. This could be done with setting work limits (if possible) for example no meetings or phone calls after 6pm, exercise time on the weekend or a short walk outside to get some air, brief yoga sessions.
What are some ways you are re-establishing norms in your relationship ?
How are you taking care of yourself and your relationship?