Jen: Being quarantined and trying to limit your exposure to others is one thing and having kids at home adds another dimension. So many parents are trying to make a living and unexpectedly take care of their kids at home at the same time. No matter what your situation is, being quarantined at home can add stresses on your couple relationship that you haven’t experienced before.
Nick: I’m fortunate to be able to do my job remotely. Yet a normal day wouldn’t involve muting a web meeting to yell out “you need to stop playing basketball downstairs – I’m in a meeting!” On one level, I expected working from home would be easier, but instead the distractions are more frequent and I’m working longer hours to accomplish less than I would if I was in the office. At the end of the day, I’d normally think of my drive home as a chance to mentally come home as well, but lately it’s -blink- and I’m home already. There’s no transition, so I end up staying in work mode even when work is done for the day.
Jen: Working at home is a complete shift of paradigms for me. My normal workday would have me constantly on the go. Instead, I feel out of sorts, frustrated by the eyestrain of staring at a computer, and antsy. Add to that my self-perceived obligation of trying to keep the kids from distracting Nick, helping them focus on distance-learning, and keeping them productive and I am now blindly trying to make my way through unfamiliar territory.
Navigating these changes in our way of life brings new stresses into our relationship as a couple. We need to find new ways to keep our relationship intact. Taking care of myself is an important part of this. Finding an alone space, even if it’s just in my head, can re-set me and help me be more patient and loving. This list of “Daily Quarantine Questions” is a good place to start.
When there is no separation between work and home, we need to work harder to make sure we stay connected as a couple. This is a challenge with the undercurrent of stress that is coloring everything. In this climate, I get annoyed by things that normally wouldn’t get to me at all. There’s no easy fix, but one thing I’m trying to do is make choices that help reconnect us instead of making things worse. I can choose to give Jen the benefit of the doubt. I don’t have to stoke an argument just to try to win. Making the choice to let go instead and picking some activity that we can use to relax has helped. For example, we’ve been watching stand-up comedy together to try to cheer up. Whatever your thing, there are surely some ways you can think of to weather this quarantine and keep your relationship intact. We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.