How To Cope When Too Much Togetherness Is Driving You Apart

Originally Published: 
woman sits on one side of a couch folding her arms and wearing an angry expression while a man sits ...

If you are partnered and living with someone right now, chances are you’ve never spent this much time together. Most of us are working from home with very few places we can go. It’s something we aren’t used to, and when inexperience meets limited time away from each other, you are going to feel it as a couple — regardless of how happy and healthy your relationship is under normal circumstances.

Maybe you had no idea how loud they could talk during conference calls. It might get on your nerves the way they chew ice while you are trying to read emails.

On top of getting used to all the togetherness, a lot of us are really struggling with our emotions during this pandemic. We may be finding it hard to feel motivated to get chores done or to enjoy the things we used to, like taking the dog for a walk, reading, giving each other relaxing massages, or cooking.

Just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you don’t love each other. You can still “like” each other and want to tell your lover to shut their face six times a day. But just in case you need a quarantine relationship boost, Scary Mommy set out to get tips from real couples who are making it work the best they can while being stuck at home.

One very smart woman said, “We have girls and guys night ‘out’ inside the home after the kids go to bed. He goes to the kitchen to watch whatever documentary he wants and have a beer and I get to scroll Instagram and watch Bravo without him complaining. Part of keeping the relationship strong is having time to ourselves.”

Bravo, indeed! We love this idea. You get to watch what you want, he can watch what he wants in a separate room and there’s no complaining. Getting time alone is #essential during this quarantine and yes, just being in separate rooms counts.

Another couple responded with, “Routine, cooking new foods, getting outside (alone AND together).”

This is an important reminder that many of us thrive on routine; we like to know what’s next. It can help us keep our expectations in line and give our days some structure. Our routines may have been thrown in the shitter, but now we can create new ones with our partner, even if that means consciously scheduling alone time.

One couple is diligent about having kid-free time together: “My husband is still working, so sometimes I just disappear somewhere in the house once he’s home to get away from my kids. But we escape to the hot tub at night for some time together. We’ve had to start telling our son that he cannot join us.”

Setting a standing date each night has helped this couple, who says, “We’ve been ‘meeting’ daily at 5:00-5:30 p.m. on our deck with a cocktail to reconnect. No kids, no dog, just us and the backyard for grownup conversations. We both stop what we are doing at 5:00 and head outside.”

This is fantastic for couples with older kids. They are old enough to hear (and comprehend) the words “You are not invited because we need some time without you.”

Working apart was a common theme with our readers, and it’s working for most couples. One commenter said, “We work apart from each other — I work in the basement office, she works at the dining room table. The TV doesn’t go on until work is over — and we take a walk ‘after work’ to transition from work to couple/family time, so it feels as normal as it can under the circumstances.”

Another pro-tip for getting through these days as a couple being cooped up is keeping up with your passions as much as you can, like this reader and her wife: “[Spend] time apart doing what you each like. My wife sews in her craft room and I play video games or work on a project that brings me enjoyment. “

One reader takes us back to the basics with something we should remember every day, especially now: “Respect and patience for each other.”

This is hard, for you and for your significant other. An article in Ideas.Ted.Com put this into perspective. “No matter your age, stage of life or length of marriage, we must acknowledge this fact: We’re all experiencing losses at the moment. You are. Your partner is,” wrote Carol Bruess. “For some of us, the losses are immediate and frightening, even grave. People are losing their jobs. Their businesses. And some have lost loved ones, friends, neighbors or colleagues.” The article goes on to highlight some other great tips on staying strong as a couple, such as starting new rituals together during this uncertain time.

Connecting and realizing you are a team who is in this together can give you peace of mind — but spending time apart, if only just to hang out in separate rooms for a bit, is valuable too. Remember, even the happiest couples are struggling to find their footing on this new terrain, because we’re all coping with the loss of the predictable life we knew. But we’ve also gained something, too: the chance to find new ways to bring us just a little bit closer together.

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