I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
And I have no privacy…
If you can relate to these Rockwell lyrics, you may be stuck in isolation with your partner and/or family. As a self-proclaimed introvert, I used to thrive during my alone time. My husband runs trivia nights at bars across Vancouver, so he was gone most nights. But…since the pubs shut down…he’s here. ALL. THE. TIME.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband, but these are extreme circumstances. Not only do we all suddenly get a lot of unexpected quality time with our families, but we’re also experiencing heightened anxiety and uncertainty. It’s not exactly that romantic getaway you were hoping for.
How Not to Kill Your Partner During Isolation
So, as the house starts to feel more and more crowded every day, how can you stay sane and come out the other side with your relationship intact? Here are a few things that have been working in our household.
Create A Schedule
You don’t have to time your life down to the minute (there’s a lot of minutes to fill these days), but having a rough timeline as to how you’d like each day to go will help you support one another better. For example:
9 am Have coffee/breakfast
10 am Work for 2 hours
12 pm Walk dog
1 pm Eat lunch
Each person should make their own schedule so you can see how you can create a flow that works for both of you. Decide who is going to the grocery store and when. When you’re open to cleaning the house etc.
Creating a suggested schedule allows you to feel more in control of your days and it also lets you know how the other person wants their days to play out so you’re not surprised when they want to clean but you’d rather watch Netflix.
This ties into the schedule. When you communicate what you need and when it allows your partner to meet you halfway. If you’re not used to spending extended time together, you’re probably used to very different schedules.
Make sure you’re letting your partner know when you need alone time or when you’re feeling overwhelmed or even that you need them to make dinner.
Also, try to check-in before switching on the news. Too much information can be overwhelming, especially for people who experience anxiety. Try asking “Do you mind if I listen to the news?” before turning it on.
This is an emotional time for everyone. It may feel like you’re just staying at home, but you’re also grieving the loss of normalcy. Your life has changed drastically and unexpectedly. It’s important to stay in communication as to how you’re feeling from day to day so you can step up for one another. Communication has always been a major player in healthy relationships, but it has never been more important than now.
Spend Time Alone
Even if you live in a studio apartment and need to create a room divider made of bedsheets, take your alone time when you need it.
Taking time to decompress your emotions is important. Also, just feeling a sense of privacy. Don’t be afraid to take a breather and lock yourself away in another room for a bit. If you’re an introvert, you may get overwhelmed having people in your normally secluded space. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time for yourself and enjoying some much deserved alone time.
Be sure to communicate with your partner when you need to escape. That way they can give you some space and keep their noise to a minimum.
Don’t forget to lean on the support of your other friends and family at this time. Though you should always feel free to share your feelings with a partner, sometimes you need another ear to bend.
Video chat with a friend and vent to them. Being supported by a large group of people can feel more secure than feeling like you and your partner only have each other. Plus, the variety in conversation will help keep you sane.
This is a new situation for everyone. Tensions are running high. You’re sure to find yourself in a disagreement or just bickering about the stupidest things. Take a breath. Remember that these are extraordinary times and be forgiving of your partner if they’re in a less than agreeable mood. It’s going to happen. We’re in this for the long haul.
As long as we communicate and take it one day at a time, we’ll all get through this together.