Love during Lockdown
Social distancing and physical distancing are essential to stopping the spread of COVID-19, but could the same measures within your home lead to a healthier relationship?
I remember a few years ago Chris Rock gave a lot marriage advice on his Netflix stand-up comedy special titled Tambourine. Comics have this unique way of presenting everyday observations in such a way that the discomfort of the truth behind their statements makes everyone laugh.
In one particular joke, Rock said that he was married for 16 years, and his marriage of 16 was actually longer than his parents’ marriage of 40. Why? Because he grew up in the era of the cell phone and thus, he has had more contact with his wife than his parents had with each other. Essentially, Rock says that the key to a long-lasting relationship is to be able to have a healthy amount of distance and separation. “You can’t miss nobody in 2017, you can say it, but don’t really miss them, because you’re with them all the time. They in your pocket”. [The full transcript of the joke can be found here].
Fast forward to 2020 in the time of lockdown – you are actually with your partners all the time. So, it makes me wonder was Rock on to something? Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Can this be achieved while we are all in lockdown?
Research in attachment does suggest that a securely attached couple is one where distance and closeness do not lead to feelings of fear. I often ask couples which fear dominates them with respect to their relationship.
I will leave you
I will stop loving you
You will leave me
You will stop loving me
Based on their answers, it becomes clear if their fears are a result of distance or because of closeness. During this time of quarantine, I also wonder similar questions. Are couples struggling with coming close, or are they struggling with going apart. Here are some ideas for couples that fall into either category.
Try to find a low intensity predictable activity that you already do, and see if you can do it together. A low intensity predictable activity is an activity that you would regularly do that doesn’t require a lot of effort. For example, a morning cup of coffee, afternoon tea, dusting and vacuuming, laundry and ironing, lunch break, dinner time, etc.
Declare physical spaces and make them sacred. It could be a room that no one else is allowed to go into during working hours except the person working, or it could be specific times of the day, or it could be a specific chair on the dining room table where no one is allowed to engage with you when you are sitting on it, or it could be any specific place that is dedicated to one specific task only.
Announce your intentions. When you’re on your own its easy to switch from one task to another task and not have to worry about it. However, when you’re sharing a space with someone else it becomes that much more important to be explicit that you are switching gears to do something else, tuning out, or just taking break. Not only does this make things clear, but it also shows care and consideration.
Be passively close to each other. You don’t always have be on and engaged with each other during this time. Try to find ways where you can be together but still be in your own spaces. Whether that means reading individually while your shoulders are touching, or being on your phone while resting your head on your partners lap. Often what this looks like is doing one thing on your own, and having some element of touch together. Close and distant at the same time.
Like Chris Rock, I imagine many people in living together in quarantine feel like it has been years, rather than weeks, because of the amount of contact you may be having with your partner. And, if it is some relief – we are in this all together. It is my hope that couples can find a middle path between distance and closeness, and come together in healthy ways. If you’re having difficulty finding this balance at this time, that is okay! These are unprecedented times, no one taught us how to be in love and stay in love during a lockdown. Luckily, there is help available. Book your first session today.