When I quit my 8-5 professional life, it took me a couple of years to settle into a new routine. After a lifetime of living according to a typical, working-life schedule, it was more difficult than I thought to readjust to the “whatever I wanted” schedule. In fact, I think I was still fine-tuning that schedule when COVID-19 hit the fan.
Now that we’re all self-isolating (or should be), the daily routine is again changing. Fortunately for me, it’s not a HUGE change. A lot of my day was already spent at home. Still, when ALL of your day is spent at home; and ALL of your partner’s day is also spent at home – the adjustment to the new COVID-19 schedule is multi-dimensional.
First, there are many things you can do at home. Some are domestic activities (cleaning, cooking, gardening, etc.). Others are personal (reading, writing, painting, playing an instrument or video game). What are the things you can do with your partner? Sex, ok – yes, but there’s only so much of THAT one can manage. Besides, even if you are up to sex every day, there are still 23 hours and 45 minutes left.
Seriously, what can you do WITH your partner staying at home all day, every day? Kurt and I have very different tastes, anyway. He does his thing – golf, bowling, video games, TV series junkie (Shameless, Homeland, Narcos, to name a few); and I do my thing (garden, read, Masterclass, write, cook). Next to nothing overlaps and, in normal times, that’s just fine. He and I are both more introverted, solitary people and we like a lot of alone time.
Now that we’re isolating together, we’re together 100% of the time, which means we have next to 0% alone time. Can you say “YIKES!”?
This is way more togetherness than either of us would have chosen, but we’re adjusting surprisingly well, surprisingly. (So far.) I think we’re doing fine with this because we know each other well. That, and we’ve been through the fire with each other about the things we do that drive the other insane – and we’ve come out the other side.
Kurt doesn’t like to feel disrespected. No one likes to feel disrespected, true. But Kurt REALLY, ***R.E.A.L.L.Y.*** doesn’t like it. It doesn’t happen much anymore, but sometimes I say or do something – (perhaps a bit snippy, but not meaning any disrespect) – that sets him ablaze. Then, once ablaze I’ll tend to try to explain myself – why I wasn’t being disrespectful and why he’s being an idiot for thinking I was being disrespectful… You can see how this wouldn’t go well.
I, on the other hand, don’t like to feel beholding. That’s been a big one for me to deal with since I quit getting a paycheck because… well, I’m “kinda” beholding to him now. When he innocently says “Hey hon, Pablo’s vet bill was how much??” – I go wild ripping him a new one, my version of “shock and awe”.
Most of our fights have all revolved around one of these 2 themes, even though the circumstances may all be different. The foundation of the difficulties, however, has to do with 1) He felt disrespected, or 2) I’ve felt beholding.
As we now have next to 0% alone time, our tempers and patience get shorter. When I’m tempted to snip, I actually can catch myself and consider, “Will he possibly consider this a dis?” Most of the time I’ll catch myself. But, if I mess up and get him going – I know now not to explain myself. I STFU. I have also gotten used to being able to talk about money (and sex) without blowing up, in part because I’ve learned he’s not trying to manipulate me and in part, he’s learned they’re sensitive subjects for me.
It will be nice to resume our normal introverted, solitary lives. But, until then it’s nice to be able to spend nearly 100% of the time together and know how walk through the minefields without blowing each other up.
How is your minefield surviving 100% togetherness?