Its officially been a month since the world was rocked by the outbreak of Covid-19. There are so many things about this virus that has been devastating: lost jobs, lost freedoms, and lost lives. Before I dive in I just wanted to say that amid everything that has been going on, it is more important now than ever to count your blessings. Know that this, and likely whatever stress or sadness you are living in will eventually come to an end, and it is always darkest before the dawn. We will all get through this.
With all of that said, I have noticed a very clear pattern amongst my friends: they are all struggling to live 24/7 with their partner. The most common complaint I have heard, and the one I want to address in this post, is “everything I do seems to annoy him”. This is a natural feeling, and I think one we can all understand – no matter who the person is, if you are with them around the clock, the little things they do are bound to annoy you. Why do you think we all treated our parents so rudely as teenagers? Its simply a proximity and privacy issue, but there are a few tips I have to help remedy the situation.
1. Never start a sentence with “you should…”. If there ever were a way to irritate an already stressed out partner, this is it. Remember when your mum or dad used to offer ‘helpful’ ideas, like “you should get a start on your readings while you have time!”? Yes, they only meant to avoid you stress in the future and offer a kind suggestion, but it still annoyed you. Same deal. If you do have a suggestion for your partner, consider offering it in a more delicate way “I saw this X and I thought it might be up your alley/something you would enjoy”. People don’t like to feel controlled, and with your current living situation the last thing you want is for your partner to start viewing you as a mother figure.
2. Give each other space. I know thats easier said than done right now, but do your best to find activities that you can do completely alone, like reading in bed or going for a walk by yourself. You both need time to recharge your batteries separately, and he might feel guilty expressing that need to you. Feeling smothered is a common source for resentment, so try your best to let your partner have his solo time – don’t nag on him for playing on his phone or playing too many video games – just respect that everyone is coping differently and needs their own space.
3. Listen carefully. This may seem like a “duh” statement, but you really need to listen for cues as to what your partner is telling you. If you get the sense that they are bothered by something you are doing, don’t take it personally, just try your best to stop it if you can. Everyone is feeling very delicate right now and small fights can blow up in a big way; when you’re around someone literally constantly, you really need to pick your battles carefully. Try your best to listen for cues, and react accordingly.
4. Don’t force it. My last bit of advice, is to let your relationship be. Don’t feel like you “should” be bonding, or making Tik Tok videos, or having cute date home nights; every relationship is unique and everyone is dealing with the Covid-19 situation differently. Just do your best and let things play out naturally, instead of trying to force him into deep chats and activities. Again, no one likes to feel cornered or smothered, especially when they can’t escape!
I know this is hard. Everyone’s relationship is feeling the strain, so know that you are not alone. This crazy time will pass, and you and your partner will come out stronger than ever; if not, then it wasn’t meant to be. Just keep your head up, and know that you have the strength to power through anything. We are all with you!