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How We Are Trying To Stay Connected To Our Partners During Quarantine

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When planning this post I asked Brian if he felt we were more or less connected since quarantine. I, of course, thought asking while he was online shopping for his first shed was good timing – so he was SUPER into the conversation. He said “yeah, probably” and when I asked him why he thinks we are, his response was “because we give each other space”. He wasn’t trying to be funny. While that wouldn’t have been my response I don’t think he’s wrong. Generally, as a couple we’ve been doing fine, with 20 years under our belt we know how to speak to each other and how to avoid triggering each other but we still do. We’ve only gotten in one moderate argument. A huge trigger of mine is if he seems AT ALL annoyed that he has to do anything for the blog – write, shoot, edit, etc. He jokes that I require extreme enthusiasm, and perceive anything less than that is him being annoyed (which is absolutely true about me). 10 days ago when he said, “wait, what is the garage post?” I almost lost it, outraged that he hadn’t apparently taken notes when we had talked about it earlier in the week. He was baffled at my outrage and calmly told me that he’s sorry that he “looked at me wrong” and “asked a question”.  I forgave him of his crime. 

So besides “giving each other space” what do we do to stay connected? And how are other couples doing? Of course, I turned this question over to my team who are quarantining with partners and we chatted about it for a good half hour during our weekly happy hour zoom meeting. When this happens, we have an inkling that we should make a blog post about it so here we are. Here is what I and the EHD team have been trying to stay in tune with our S.O.’s.

Emily and Brian

I think it’s hard not to be connected when you do so many process-oriented things together – making meals, cleaning the house, putting down kids, parenting, board games, even working out. I think we used our friends as a crutch more than we thought to have “fun” and feel connected. So now it’s just us most of the time and it’s actually fulfilling. 

We don’t really have date nights, but a couple times a week we try experimental dinners that require us both to follow challenging recipes. We’ll start around 4 – 4:30 pm and have wine stretch out the process, trying not to rush the result. The kids sometimes help (which is fun?) and if not then we can actually have an adult conversation (TV GUYS THE TV). It’s like when we used to seek out the best soup dumplings in San Gabriel Valley or he would drive us an hour to the best lobster tacos – except we are making them now. 

The last few years we’ve been really good about giving each other a night totally off, whether in or out, and that hasn’t really changed. About once a week Brian will make some sort of excuse to go to LA to grab like a pencil or “Charlie’s shorts” from our house. It’s an hour and 45 minutes each way and especially since he is the main home school parent most days I know he really NEEDS that time. I think sometimes he just sits in his car, parked, listening to podcasts and that’s totally fine. It gives me one full day a week with the kids which means I can’t get any work done (not sure how two working parents are doing it – SERIOUSLY HOW ARE YOU DOING IT?) but he comes back in such a better mood, excited to see us and I’m sure he likes us more. So yeah, space. 

For my “space” I have a DIY “spa night” (aka a long-ass bath). We don’t have big romantic date nights but on Friday nights we make the kids watch movies on the laptop in a guest bedroom while we eat burgers from the only take out place in town, and watch a grownup show (Succession, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and we are starting Normal People this weekend). For those two hours we act like we don’t have kids or like someone else is watching them in another room (the TV, duh) and it’s awesome. 

The last two weeks we have dedicated Sunday morning/lunch as a date time, instead of nights, while the kids are zombied in front of the TV and we actually have energy and feel like talking. Whereas after they go to bed we are usually done talking for the day and just watch shows, read or pass out. 

I think it’s both easier and harder quarantining with kids. Having a buffer of these two really fun little friends to entertain us and keep the day FULL is great in many ways, but no, we don’t get the same marathoning TV time, as much personal time or “long walks” if we didn’t. All in all, we aren’t sick of each other yet and while it’s not perfect we certainly do really appreciate how much we still really like hanging out together. 

I just asked Brian if he had anything additional to say about feeling connected (it’s 6:45 am and he’s reading the news online with coffee with the body language that says, “I’m not really here”), he said “uh, no, I think we are good on that one”. 🙂 

Ryann and Rocky

In the beginning, Rocky and I joked that quarantine was not unlike our normal lives. Besides me now working from home and us not being able to go out to dinner, our lives didn’t feel that different. We’ve lived together for 3 years and have been dating for about 4 and a half but we’ve always been the couple that spends a lot of time together. When we first started dating, we spent every single day together until I went to school in San Francisco- I guess pointing to the fact that time spent together is our strongest love language.

A lot has happened since quarantine began, though. Rocky still goes to work (his company is essential) but he just started his master’s degree in psychology at Antioch University, which will now be conducted online until September. So on top of working full time he is spending eight hours in zoom classes on Saturdays and at least a couple hours each evening during the week studying or writing papers. So despite living in the same apartment our quarantine experiences couldn’t be more different. I am at home all the time but have generally felt happier, more productive, and less anxious. He is home less but the stress and workload in his life have doubled. That alone would make any couple feel at least a little distant, but a global pandemic plus our combined mental illnesses means we have a lot to navigate. (I’ve talked a bit about my depression and anxiety and Rocky is very open about his OCD and eating disorder. How we deal with them together is probably a post in of itself, so let us know if that is something you’d be interested in).

Anyway, we are trying our best to focus on the little things. When we are out of sync and especially when communication (which we normally excel at) falls to the wayside, we both appreciate small acts of service that are done without one of us asking. Since he started school, for example, I took over doing the dishes (my ABSOLUTE least favorite chore) because he is busier and more stressed than I am right now. But, even though I have more “free time” I have emotional needs that need to be met too. I have empathy for what he is going through, but I can’t take everything on my shoulders. I need to feel loved and supported (and I need help with some chores because boy do I hate cleaning). Luckily by now, we are both pretty good at anticipating each other’s needs.

But you came here to read about cute couple stuff, right?? So I’ll give you a cute one: Rocky leaves for work early so the other day I woke up and walked to the bathroom and found a note that said “I love you” on the mirror. It made my day automatically. Then, when I made my way to the living room I found another one on my keyboard. And then another in the refrigerator. And another when I opened a cabinet to grab my dog’s leash. I eventually texted and told him I smiled so big every time I found one, to which he replied, “did you find all six?”. It was sweet and made me feel loved, and probably took him a total of 5 minutes to create this little “I love you scavenger hunt”. Other than that, we try and maintain normalcy and make sure we are both reaching out to friends and family and not isolating ourselves. My FaceTime dates with my friends are so important to me and lately, he has started face timing his too. For us, it is important we find joy and support in things and people other than each other. Otherwise, we tend to get overwhelmed. It may seem weird but sometimes the recognition that we both need healthy doses of space is what helps us feel connected. That and Italian food. Always Italian food.

Sara and Mac

At first, staying at home together felt a little more like a Honeymoon than a quarantine. We were eating lunch together, playing board games instead of watching TV, and generally feeling very lofty about being in our cozy little home together 24/7. Admittedly, the shine has worn off somewhat. Nowadays, we spend more of our days on opposite sides of the house, we don’t always sit down to a 30 min lunch together anymore (I like to use most of my lunch break actually making a meal, and then shoveling it in during the last 10 minutes), and we’re back to watching TV at night instead of playing board games and having deep intellectual conversations. OH WELL. 

And still, there are a few changes that being together 24/7 has brought which I’m going to really miss when this is all over. The first is Mac not having to leave super early in the morning, and not getting home until super late at night due to a cross-city commute in rush hour traffic. Getting those extra 2-3 hours a day of time with him is going to be really hard to lose again. Secondly are the mid-day cuddles. We started the quarantine by working in the same room all day, every day. But now I’ve moved to working in the master bedroom on the opposite side of the house most days. Honestly, the bedroom gets really pretty light all day, I make the bed, light a candle, open the window, and really enjoy working on the bed with a kitty sleeping at the foot and my notebooks spread out next to me. Plus, we both take several calls a day, and my ears were not enjoying the AirPods extended stay. But it’s nice to know that whenever I need a 20-second hug, he’s only a 30-second walk away. Lastly, we just talk more. About what’s happening at work, about what we’re thinking, about the news. In the old days (lol), we’d come home exhausted by the day and commute, ready to just eat dinner and zone out. But now we find ourselves filling that commute time with morning chats in bed, or talks while I prep dinner (something Mac is usually absent for because he’s sitting in traffic).

What are the things we’re doing to keep things feeling special? Honestly, I don’t know. Ordering dinner and watching a movie could be a “date night,” but it’s also just kind of . . . a night. But every now and then I’ll be in the kitchen cooking, listening to some music, and Mac will come in and start dancing with me. I’m usually trying to scoop pasta out of water before it cooks too much, or checking on something in the oven, but it’s sweet nonetheless. Or he’ll yell from the other side of the house “how ya doing?”, or just pop in to give me a kiss on the head or start silently dancing in front of me while I’m on a Zoom call to try and get me to laugh.

I guess those are the little moments that make our (8 year long) romance feel special, and that’s not something that’s necessarily came out of being in quarantine. They’re just the little bits of our relationship that are shining a little brighter right now.

Mallory and Chase

As you may know, Chase and I moved in together into our lil studio apartment on Hollywood blvd a few months ago, so when we found out about the stay-at-home order, we jumped ship to quarantine with his family and get some more space & human interaction during these crazy months. We are VERY lucky that this was even an option for us, and we’ve thoroughly been enjoying the fruits of suburbia. It’s much different than Hollywood. We take quiet walks around the block, have a backyard to workout in, and a family + two cute labradors to hang out with.

Living with Chase’s family of 5 is super fulfilling for our extroverted selves, but it can also be a challenge to maintain our “couple-time” that we constantly have when it’s just us. After all, quality time is a top love language for both of us, so we thrive on long date nights and deep talks. But we’ve managed to find ways to stay connected, mostly through our daily walks and cooking dinner. We set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day (which I personally rarely hit), but it’s fun for us to have a goal that ultimately just leads to hours of walking, talking, and asking each other personal questions. It’s when we laugh the most, come up with billion-dollar business ideas, and share our feelings about the wild west that is the world right now.

We also cook dinner pretty much every day –– Chase is an amazing chef and always finds awesome recipes to try. It’s our favorite hobby and give us LOTS of alone time because cooking for 6 with leftovers for lunch the next day can be a time consuming and arduous task. We also do other little things together, like going on drives or binge-watching Mad Men with secret rice krispie treats that we buy and hide for ourselves. All-in-all the dynamic is very different than when it’s just us in our studio & I miss it sometimes, but we make an effort to have special moments for us throughout the day. Chase if you’re reading this, thank you for being my rock through all of it.

Alright, that is all from us but we want to hear your thoughts. Do you have any tips or ideas for staying connected and essentially not losing it while staying at home? Tell us your secrets. x

Fin Mark

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Cris S.

Love seeing these couples and hearing how people are coping. The best thing I’ve done for us as a couple is to have a make out session with my husband at least once a day. Believe me, this was NOT our norm before the pandemic. I don’t think we’ve quarantined particularly well – no one here is doing yoga and self reflection and crafts. My husband and I have been married for 27 years (? had to look it up) and dated for five years prior to getting married (end of high school through college). We have a 17 year old and a 13 year old, the first deals with ADHD, anxiety and depression and the second has a chromosomal condition similar to Downs, both really struggle outside the struggle and socialization of school (and fight constantly if we try to get everyone in the same room). The good thing was we moved from a very small house a year ago and have lots of individual spaces for everyone. The bad thing is we more than doubled our mortgage and now are hoping every day that neither of us loses our job. We are also working a TON more at… Read more »

Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel the same way about feeling grateful because so many people have lost jobs and are dealing with 10000x more than I am right now. And it sounds like you are having some struggles too, but are doing the best you can which is all you can do!

LIVING FOR ALL THESE PICS OF MY BEAUTIFUL FRIENDS AND THEIR BEAUTIFUL PARTNERS, WOW!!! Are you all models or something????

LMD

We are a two parent working household w a baby and a 7 year old. It is HARD. We barely get everyone fed, house marginally clean, work, homeschool and make sure no one is bleeding. There are no spa nights or anything nights. It’s straight up triage over here (we are in Detroit). I wake up before 6 to get some work before I wake to nurse the baby. We take turns w homeschool and daycare, eat lunch together and walk as a family. I work when baby naps and do. 15 min workout for sanity. My husband works during naps and till 10 PM or so. We don’t work on weekends and trade off having 2 hours of free time in the am Saturday and Sunday. I couldn’t really connect with this post and I’m trying not to feel resentful hearing about game nights and binge watching TV shows. My free time before baby wakes I chose to read this.

Ashley

Oh gosh, hang in there. I see the rawness in your words, and I assure you, you’re not alone. We are also working (high dress jobs! at home!) while minding a 4-year-old, and this *#it ain’t easy.

There’s a podcast called “Staying in with Emily and Kumail” we’ve listened to separately and together, and it’s offered a lot of food for thought about getting through. She’s a (former) therapist, and there’s some really good insight amongst the humor.

Above all, take time for yourself. Sending hugs.

Beth

Sounds like you’re having a hard time! Life with a baby is so nonstop, not to mention a job and a 7 year old on top of the pandemic. You can do it!!

I’ve got three kids. I noticed that once they were all out of diapers I felt like I could manage to spend some time on myself again. You’ll get there!!! Hang on until you do, you’re doing a great job!

Francesca

Working full-time while taking care of a baby is SUPER HARD (nearly impossible?). I just wanted to say that I have total sympathy for you. My kids are 5 & 11, so it’s easier. But I feel your pain and am sending love and sympathy. Just getting through the day keeping your family intact is success. And doing short workouts and family walks is fantastic.

We’ll eventually get through this and kids get older. But while the years feel short, the days sure feel long.

Molly H

My hubby and I have been together forevvvver. We made the decision 5 years ago to move across country. I moved first, he finished up and followed a year later. We Facetimed the whole year we were apart and missed each other desperately. We both worked at making friends in our new location and quickly met some really fun, interesting, cool people. Our social calendar was filled for weeks on end. We were having the best time ever–more quality friendships than we’ve ever had at once. Super fun dinner parties, movie nights, and events with super fun people. Sometimes as a couple, sometimes just with our new friends. Then….yeah, then. When the reality starting setting in, we clung to each other night and day. I just kept telling him how very happy I was to have him by my side; not stranded 10 states away. Then the abnormal life we all had to adjust to became more normal. Then we started squabbling. Yeesh. Not pretty. I learned things about him I never knew; same on the other side. Had we not been quarantined, I truly think we would have split up–at least for a short time. But, that isn’t going… Read more »

Oh, Mac and I squabble. I hope my section didn’t make it sound like we’re living an ideal quarantine vacation 🙂 And honestly, I think he may be having a bit of a harder time than I am, because he’s certainly more of the socializer. But we’re also realizing how much we actually enjoy each others friendship too (we were friends for a few years before we dated). I will say that we don’t have the added stress of having children to manage, which means it’s so much easier for us to get “alone” time when we need it!

Sweet post, but can’t relate. My husband lost his job when quarantine started and has been unemployed for two months. I am an artist so we rely on his income, and all my sales have dried up anyway. Who buys art during a pandemic? No one. We have one kid home from college doing online classes, another adult kid who came back home as she is immunocompromised and we felt it was unsafe for her to be on her own. So, things are stressful here. Not too worried about date nights or spa treatments or connecting. We are just hoping to be able to pay the bills and get through this safely.

I can’t relate either. I read the earlier posts from those quarantining alone and now couples. I am quarantined myself as a nurse positive with covid. Before that was trying to work under difficult circumstances. I know that covid is so hard for everyone. We all have different struggles. My sister couldn’t hold on to her struggle with depression and committed suicide two weeks ago. I really hope everyone does fight hard to hold on tight to each other and please reach out to those most at risk with mental health issues or quarantined alone. Those who have lost jobs or don’t have enough food as well.

MKW

I’m sorry.

Kate, I couldn’t agree more and I am so so incredibly sorry about your sister. This is an extremely difficult time for those suffering with mental illness and we all need to reach out to those in our lives. Thank you for that reminder. Sending you hugs and well wishes. x

My heart broke reading this. My sister has been gone for three years now…the best I can say is it/everything changes, and that’s all I know for sure. Wishing you peace in your heart (eventually) as you navigate the rough seas of grief. My condolences to you and yours.

Cris S.

Kate – I’m so sorry.

I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. Completely heartbreaking.

Rusty

I’m so sorry, Kate. That’s a lot to be dealing with. I’m wishing you well from Australia and sending love your way. x

Elissa, I am sorry to hear that I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I’d love to check out your art, do you have an Instagram or website?? I think it is SO important to support small business and artists right now. Wishing you the best xx

I do have an instagram, and a website: https://www.instagram.com/loxymama/ and https://efarrowsavos.com/home.html. If you see anything you like, DM me! Thanks for the support!

Kat A

Hey Elissa. I’m actually looking for art right now. Please drop your ig/website. I’d love to look at what you have for sale!

Hi Kat, here’s the links: https://efarrowsavos.com/home.html and https://www.instagram.com/loxymama/. DM me for questions and prices. Thanks for asking! 🙂

Heidi

“How we deal with them together is probably a post in of itself, so let us know if that is something you’d be interested in).” I vote YES!
I appreciate everyone’s candor. This is a good discussion and something that we all are going through. Love this blog and love you all.

Sarah

Double yes. In recovery from ED. I am very thankful to be on the side of it. This would have been extremely hard for me 10 years ago. It’s not too bad nowI just keep thinking of everyone who is experiencing what I would have 10 years ago though.

Lia

My husband and I are both working at home with two demanding jobs (mine is a public health COVID-related job which has me putting in 10-12 hour day) and three little kids. EVERYTHING feels like a slog. Early in quaratine he was sick, potentially with COVID, so I started sleeping in the spare bedroom and guys…I might never go back. I sleep better! We can keep separate bedtime schedules! I can read in bed! It is goooooood. Anyway, I think this bit of space is helpful. We also don’t hang out most evenings – I’m usually working and he is playing Zelda because that’s what grown ass men do during a quaratine, of course, so the nights we do relax together and watch a show feel special.

We also have cocktail hour after wrapping up work and talk about our kids behind their backs like they are annoying co-workers. Hahaha. It does increase the feeling of adult solidarity and camaraderie.

H

I think baby age kids are a different ball game because they can’t be TV entertained. My husband and I are both working from home. Prior to this it was 12 hour days and now we’re down to maybe 10? We have a baby and a six year old and I feel like we’re barely surviving with cooking meals, homeschooling, and keeping the baby from killing himself while learning to walk. At least once a week, one of us finds themselves in the position of having to hold the melting down baby, while cooking lunch, answering the older kid’s math questions even though he should know better, and trying to take a conference call because the other parent is on a more important call.

Honestly, I don’t know if we’re more connected because doing process things (cooking, homeschooling, figuring out what our grocery list) isn’t what connects me to a partner. That feels like a job to me, a task that needs to get completed. So it’s just another task on my endless work list to get through so we can survive the day.

Jill

On a lighter note (because we still need some of those don’t we) be careful about watching Normal People at the weekend! It’s impossible to stop watching so that’s 6 hours of TV you need to allow for! Best thing I’ve watched for ages.

sally

Agree, and Emily, since as you just said you’ve had a happy and monogamous relationship for 20 yrs and you’re not yet 40, I am curious to hear what you think of Normal People – it reminded me so much of my early 20s but I wonder if it will be as excellent/resonant/interesting to watch for someone with your lovely and admirable relationship story! Please report back in some way if possible! Best show I’ve watched since Mad Men but it’s no picnic, very melancholy. I can’t stop repeat binging. Enjoy!

My husband and I started a 6 week virtual escape room! I create the puzzles and he tests them all and created our website! After the kids go to bed we plan what we need to do to mail out the puzzles each Saturday. Working together on a project that brings people a little bit of joy each week has been our way of coping with stress and has brought us closer together!

Liz

Thank you for “Whereas after they go to bed we are usually done talking for the day and just watch shows, read or pass out. ” We are the same, and I was worried that it’s a massive waste of time, but ugh, anything else seems so hard! Post bedtime we are total zombies. Thanks for sharing. Its so so helpful to hear so many voices right now

PatriarchyisAlive

So let me get this straight—

Emily is the breadwinner of the family—both through her amazing entrepreneurship but also by providing Brian with a job (one I’m guessing is way more flexible than any other job he might find), and if the home situation is anything like the average American family Emily is likely doing the heavy lifting of childcare and home chores during her “off hours” and Brian is the one who needs a break?

I’m guessing Emily’s DIY spa night is after all the kids are in bed and chores are done.

Being anything short of completely willing, gracious and open to help with “blog related” stuff is ridiculous.

Erin

I so appreciate the willingness for people to be vulnerable in the comments. If nothing else it reminds me how important it is to be open about the struggles I’m having during this time (even though they feel VERY trivial in the overall scheme of things). I was talking to my sister the other day and when she asked me how I was doing I said something along the lines of “well, I can’t really complain.” And then she said something along the lines of “well, yeah…but this still sucks.” Balance is important and this post, coupled with the comments embodies that balance really well.

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