5 Tips for quarantined couples
For most of us who are coupled, there’s at least one significant portion of our lives that we don’t spend with our partners: work. We aren’t used to being home together all day every day, sharing a space. But right now, in the midst of coronavirus, that is the reality for many people. And while some couples (or triads or families) might welcome more time together with the person at the core of their emotional support system, for other couples, this may also bring out their worst. It can be easy to snap at a partner or otherwise offload the stress and anxiety we have about our jobs, the virus, and the state of our world.
Obviously there’s no right or wrong way to deal with this problem, but as someone who has worked from home for much of the past decade along with partners who do the same, I want to share some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way:
1. Avoid Longstanding arguments
Many couples have disagreements that are as old as the relationships themselves. During a time of increased pressure, the likelihood that anyone is going to be able to work through those deep-rooted disagreements is lower than usual. With so much time together, it may be tempting to go there, but if it doesn’t relate to the crisis at hand, my recommendation is to wait until our situations are calmer to dive back in.
2. Frogive ASAP
When arguments do break out, it’s important to do what you need to do to reset; nobody can make you get over it faster than you’re able, but try to do so as quickly as possible. Of course, there still might be substantive disagreement, but unless the situation is dangerous, the sooner you can stabilize the dynamic, the better. In such difficult times, we need each other more than ever.
3. Set boundaries
Every couple needs boundaries, but when you’re together twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, it’s even more crucial that boundaries are established and respected. Does one partner need alone time? How much? What can alone time look like in your space? Does one person need sex to deal with anxiety and the other feel less sexual for the same reasons? How will you set boundaries around your individual needs that will also serve you as a unit?
4. Show off your love language skills
I’m often hesitant to reference Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages because he and I do disagree about so many core relationship values. But what I think he gets absolutely correct is that different ways of expressing appreciation – like gifts or words of affirmation – resonate differently with the people around us. It’s always a good practice to know what makes your partner feel most loved and show them your feelings in that way, at least some of the time. In moments when we feel able to show up for our partners during all this difficulty, doing so is likely to pay significant dividends
Perhaps the most important tactic for keeping the peace in our homes is communication. Our partners generally can’t read our minds, as much as we’d like our thoughts and needs to be obvious to them, so let them in on what’s going on up there. Ideally, we would initiate this communication in an even-keel way that doesn’t set off immediate conflict, but even conflictual communication can be better than keeping a partner in the dark if something really needs to be discussed and worked out.
Jack Harrison-Quintana is a bator, Fanta enthusiast, and the director of Grindr for Equality (G4E).