In sickness and in health: How to survive quarantine together

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The Internet’s flooded with the “expectation vs. reality” memes about quarantining together. And with good reason. At first glance, what can be better than being “locked up” with the love of your life in the same premises? Finally, you have a lot of time together, see each other all the time, and yet… First of all, it’s one thing to be in a solitary hut in the Maldives, and it’s quite another to survive one of the biggest disturbances in history by hiding out behind the doors of your modest apartment. Second of all, not many couples able to calmly endure not getting a break from one another.

Today, we’ll help you and your other half figure out the pitfalls of quarantining together.

The first thing a couple who finds themselves in isolation encounters is adjustment. Therefore, it’s extremely important to give yourself and your loved one some time to make sense of the new (albeit temporary) living conditions. Your everyday life is disrupted, and it’ll take some time to get used to that.

For those who’ve worked at home before, it’ll, of course, be a bit easier. But those accustomed to seeing each other “in the morning, in the evening, at the weekend” would need to adapt. That’s normal. Give yourself and others the right to have different feelings.

We are now in a situation of great stress and abrupt changes. And the emerging negative anxieties of various kinds are legitimate and valid.

Both you and your partner can experience irritation, helplessness, anger, confusion, anxiety, exhaustion, and be frustrated. In addition, paradoxical as it may seem, the level of fatigue, despite sitting at home, can be much higher than during the periods when you both used to go out for work and errands. This is because stress and adjusting to it consume a gigantic amount of energy. So, if a loved one or yourself is like a squeezed orange by nighttime, although you’ve only been moving between the kitchen and the bedroom, everything is OK, and it’s what it should be like.

Don’t berate yourself for complex and negative anxieties, don’t try to suppress them and to urgently start thinking cheerfully. Positive thinking is cool and important, but only after you adjust.

Try to monitor your feelings, emotions, sensations. And fix them. You can do that only in your head, or in our diary. Awareness and saying one’s experiences out loud are already half the battle. Even at this simplest stage, you can take a load off your shoulders in a way that’s both environmentally sound and painless for your relationship.

During this period, it’s extremely important to make use of the most famous phrase from the pre-flight safety briefing: first a mask on yourself, and only then… What are we talking about? We’re talking about the fact that it’s important for you to take responsibility for your own emotional state. That is, to work independently with your anxiety, frustration, and helplessness (exercises from the Psychosutra section and the Blanket course can help). By the way, the partner’s responsibility for his state is his own. In this situation, hanging the anxieties of two persons on one is a very, very bad idea.

No, this doesn’t mean that you need to tell each other to get lost, together with their fears and painful thoughts. On the contrary, it’s important to share and discuss them, but without the expectation that right now your other half will wave a magic wand and I will immediately be fixed, nor the “oh, he’s feeling so bad, I’ll go save him now”.

Don’t blame each other for the way they’re dealing with the crisis. Everyone has their own. For some, it’s easier to post funny memes, and for others it’s better to read scientific articles. If the partner doesn’t create a dangerous situation (doesn’t violate the quarantine, complies with the ordered and recommended precautions, doesn’t panic and doesn’t flood the whole house with buckwheat and toilet paper), let him express his fear as he pleases. And yes, you also have the same right.

Phew! We hope that we cleared things up a bit about feelings and experiences, and therefore made it easier. Now let’s think about the safety of communication. What’s it for? For not going mad, not driving the other half mad, and for taking care of the relationship.

Leave all the squabbles and lingering grievances for later

Now is definitely not the time to raise them. Same with conversations about serious changes. In this situation of instability, uncertainty, and high levels of anxiety, it’s a terrible idea to pull skeletons out of the closet.

Why? Because your emotional profile is now in turmoil, is in the media space one way or another, and is subject to a stream of negativity related to global circumstances.

Take an internal timeout, mentally agree with the “sore point” that you will definitely come back to it, definitely discuss it with your partner – but not right now. And give yourself some time (a deadline) – six months, three months. Until then, “ask” this issue not to bother you. This is a difficult period, and it is important for you to take care of yourself.

Discuss boundaries

Moral ones, physical ones, division of labor. For instance – this is my workspace during working time, and this is yours. This is my plan for the day, what’s yours? I can do some chores around the house, which ones would you prefer to do? Try working as a team, with each partner having their own responsibilities and contribution.

Share your expectations

The most common cause of conflicts is inflated expectations. When you thought that you would spend all the quarantine days in bed having sex and watching TV shows, and he, it turns out, needs to work, and is generally not in the mood for anything, because he could be fired any day now. Discuss how each of you sees this period. What do you want? What do you not want at all? How would it be better? Which is easier? And, based on the wishes of each side, find the middle ground.

Don’t chase an ideal picture

This is all very well and good of course: the birth rates are up, and we couldn’t be more delighted. But to be honest, that’s not very realistic. The best thing you can do is search for the options of forced coexistence that are comfortable FOR YOU.

Personal time

And personal space. A must-have for everyone. Try to integrate your hobbies and any pastimes both of you enjoy. Find a way to organize your own “bolt hole” where you can take a break and take a breath on your own.

Shared time

Relationships are a living organism. They need nutrition. Especially during a crisis when the usual boosts don’t work.

What to do:

1. Try something new. For instance: watch films you wouldn’t normally see, play, collect, draw, compose, tinker, garden.

2. Hug, kiss, pet each other – tactile contact during the day is a must.

3. Show initiative. Don’t wait for your other half to somehow shake up your reclusion.

4. Get to know one another. Open a list of philosophical questions and discuss them. How does each of you imagine the universe? What does eternal life mean for you and your partner – joy or punishment? What is the meaning of life and why it’s necessary? What is each of you grateful for in this world? Is it true that everything has its price? Etc.

5. Plan. What would you like and do when the isolation is over?!

6. Support with nice words (“Although this isn’t easy, I’m happy that I’m with you!”).

Take care, friends!