When the COVID-19 lockdown forced my husband to stay home, I looked forward to a break from the typical busy routine and had grand thoughts of bringing back those exhilarating and blissful days of long ago.
Being a work from home freelancer, I had no problem with the coronavirus quarantine. I’m used to being alone the whole day. But having the hubby now keeping me company seemed a good time for doing things together, having long talks and mostly just reconnecting on a deeper level.
It’s been a month now and I’ve realized that this Covid-19 enforced 24/7 togetherness is getting overwhelming. Speaking for myself, the excitement of having him home faded fast and stress is taking its place. Although the love and commitment remain, I can’t wait for our customary normal to be back.
No doubt some of you readers are nodding your heads in agreement, right? When I first had that suffocating feeling, I resorted to passive-aggressive behaviors, cursing the lockdown and silently resenting the hubby while throwing dagger looks at his back. While other couples can successfully navigate the “being together all the time” state, it’s stressful for me. So I found techniques to survive the stay home order.
How to Handle the Stress of 24/7 Togetherness
Respect each other’s differences.
They may be little things but it gets increasingly annoying when I’m forced to endure the abysmal sap he listens to, cook hearty meals even if I can live on coffee alone and put up with his other habits I hadn’t noticed before.
This coronavirus thing has amped up our anxiety and irritability levels and challenged our ability to be appreciative and grateful for what we have. Realizing this, I made a conscious effort to focus on his good points. So instead of griping, I make a list of things I am grateful for that day and share it with him. Doing this makes it easier for me to cut him some slack.
Find alone time.
I didn’t expect us to get on each other’s nerves so soon just because we’re together at home now. When quarantine-induced tension arises, it’s either one starts lashing out at the other or I shut off completely. Neither is good for a relationship.
I have learned to avoid this situation by finding time every day to be alone. For you, this can be a room in the house, the back or front yard, or a balcony. I set a schedule where interruption is least likely and use this time to meditate or do some free-form journaling. Writing without restraint releases pent-up frustrations and defuses the tension in the atmosphere. Regular meditation for 25 minutes a day always brings me inner calm and keeps me mindful.
Stay connected with close friends.
The various platforms at our disposal give us instantaneous connections. I make it a point to spend some time with my girlfriends without the hubby by my side. We are a support group for each other as we feel the stress and fear of Covid-19. A weekly chat with them is enough to dissipate my anxiety when I’m feeling trapped.
Friends are a source of fun, laughter and comfort that’s different from what you get from an intimate relationship. My friends who date back from high school and college days give me a sense of belonging. We turn to each other for joy and celebration in good times and for solace in bad times.
Yep, the household chores multiply with this Covid-19 stay home directive. The sink piles up never-endingly with dirty dishes, empty wrappers and food crumbs litter the couch, and the residual odor from cigarette butts permeate the house. When only one person (that’s me!) is expected to clean up the mess, resentment builds up.
To prevent my rising pique, I sat him down and made a list of do’s and don’ts plus tasks and schedules that we do individually and together. I also remind him of them in case he conveniently forgets. When cooking and doing the laundry are shared, I’ve found that these reduce stress and create great opportunities for talking and bonding.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one who’s feeling the effects of the lockdown. Your partner is surely just as stressed and restless and even annoyed at you.
Kindness in words and actions, an understanding of his feelings, and resilience make a world of difference in sustaining a pleasant and harmonious relationship when we’re all cooped up in our homes during this Covid-19 period.