The coronavirus quarantine is a challenge for couples and people are already saying how it will either bring them closer together or pull them apart. People obviously love their spouses but imagine having to spend every single moment of your time with them (there is no escape!).
Let’s see if you can relate to these married couples who were doing so much better before the Covid-19 lockdown. Bored Panda has collected some of the most hilarious tweets that show what married life is like now, so scroll down and upvote your faves. Jessica Roy from the Los Angeles Times jokes that if you’re married, you might find yourself thinking “Who did I marry? And do I really have to live with this person forever?” during the quarantine.
Bored Panda reached out to relationship expert Dan Bacon, founder of The Modern Man website, and spoke with him about how important it is that married couples have alone time and whether or not there is likely to be a “divorce boom” after the pandemic ends. Read on for the in-depth interview.
“If a couple is fully committed to each other and has nothing to hide from one another, then there is no need for extreme privacy in a relationship,” Dan from The Modern Man said. “However, having some alone time in a relationship is something that both people should be okay with.”
Dan gave 4 reasons for this. First of all, it gives the couple time to miss each other. “Without that, you can end up taking the other person’s presence for granted. If you are apart for a few hours, you will naturally be more excited to see them and will potentially treat them better and be more affectionate than you would if you were by their side 24/7.”
Secondly, alone time helps people focus on other things and activities that don’t involve their spouses. Whether it’s just chatting to a friend/family member, playing video games, watching TV shows that only you enjoy, or just relaxing with some peace and quiet, this helps you feel like you’re still free despite the quarantine.
“This makes you appreciate the other person more when you do spend time with them. Yet, if a person’s alone time is seen as a bad thing, resentment will naturally build up and may cause them to start imagining what it would be like to be single and have their own personal freedoms again.”
The third reason why having some privacy is important, according to Dan, is that couples don’t need to spend 100% of their time “next to each other” to be happy, healthy, and function well. “They are not ignoring each other or taking each other for granted if they spend many hours apart in the house or apartment. It’s totally normal, it’s fine and it’s healthy for a relationship.”
Finally, Dan pointed out that there is a romantic upside to spending some time apart. “If a couple interacts, flirts with each other a little and then spends some time apart in their home, they will naturally start to imagine having sex that day or later that night, which builds up sexual tension between them,” he explained.
“However, if one person can’t get away from the other even for a couple of hours, then they won’t be feeling as much desire to be intimate. The person may even start denying sex or affection (e.g. hugging, loving touch) as a way of maintaining some sort of distance. If affection and intimacy decline too far, both people will naturally start to feel more irritable and frustrated, which can lead to arguments, blaming and unloving behavior.”
“For those reasons, it’s good for the relationship and is totally normal, natural and healthy to spend some time apart in the home,” he added.
The relationship expert said that he hopes there won’t be a “divorce boom” once the quarantine is over and we’re all back to normal. Dan said that divorce isn’t a pleasant experience for neither the man, the woman, nor their children if they have any.
“So, I hope that the men who are experiencing relationship problems during the Covid-19 pandemic are learning what they can to improve their relationship and avoid a breakup or divorce when society goes back to normal,” Dan told Bored Panda.
“However, that said, I can see the potential for a divorce boom because a lot of couples are essentially putting up with each other at the moment,” he added. “Many couples have never spent this much time together and some have become closer because of it, but many have really gotten on each other’s nerves and are wanting to break up as soon as it is possible to do so.”
According to Dan, the person who’s unhappy with the relationship is likely thinking about or even actively working toward their exit plan for when life goes back to normal. “Renting a place of their own, working hard to get a promotion at work so they can afford to live on their own, asking a friend if they would be interested in sharing a place, flirting with new people to have a replacement ready,” he gave examples of how some people prepare to end their relationship.
“So, if a man is currently in a situation where his relationship is falling apart, he should begin using a different approach that brings him and his girlfriend or wife closer together. Rather than seeking to win arguments and make the other person feel at fault, try to find things that you agree on and then come to a solution that makes both of you happy,” Dan advised.
“Rather than taking every disagreement so seriously, try to use some humor to lighten the mood and allow both of you to see that you don’t need to be so serious and uptight about things. Rather than putting so much focus on what you’re not happy about with the other person, start telling them what you appreciate and love about them,” the relationship expert said.
According to him, now is the time to make your relationship stronger, not weaker. “Create a dynamic in the relationship where you both feel loved, appreciated, respected and supported. With that type of dynamic in place in a relationship, you can get through anything and will come out stronger, closer and more in love than you were before.”
Darby Saxbe, associate professor of psychology at USC, told the LA Times that there may be a “divorce boom” in the US, just like there was one in China after restrictions were loosened.
“For couples that have a healthy relationship, that are doing pretty well, there are some ways this could bring people closer together,” Saxbe said about couples who can figure out how to weather this pandemic together. “But for couples who are struggling or don’t communicate as well or don’t share the same values, this situation is going to drive a wedge or exacerbate whatever tension is already there.”
According to Saxbe, people aren’t used to spending all day, every day inside their homes. Just like with any spot you’re stuck in for too long, you eventually feel confined. Trapped. Bored. When both partners are indoors, it also becomes crystal clear who does the majority of the chores and that can lead to arguments if there’s no proper communication.
Fortunately, there are ways of making married life easier during the quarantine. People are social animals, but we still need some alone time. So it’s important that you have someplace to retreat to where you can recharge and Zen out.
Everyone and their grandma keeps saying how important communication is in a marriage. But it’s worth repeating. You can’t expect your spouse to read your mind—this eventually leads to resentment, arguments, and binge-eating ice cream. And that’s no good for anyone. So communicate. Talk. Chat. Express your thoughts and feelings.
Finally, let go of your perfectionism. We all thought that the quarantine would give us the time and focus to write our next book/tidy up the garage/pick up painting again. Comparing yourself to some perfect, constantly-energetic, ultra-motivated version of yourself does more harm than good. Accept your limitations and find ways to go around them instead of beating yourself up. You and your partner will both be much happier for it.