How a Couple Who Work Together Were Separated During COVID
In the last year before COVID hit, my partner and I were together nearly all day long, at home and at work. Day in, day out, at the same desk. I met him at the office daily after dropping the kids off at school. But when in-person school ended for the kids, so did my time at the office.
This was a huge change for us after being together daily in a work environment. Very quickly, I began feeling like I was losing touch with everything that was going on in the office, but more so, I missed my time with him.
"I was keeping so much inside that I was worried I was going to explode."
Being able to work side by side was something that was very special to us and it gave us an opportunity to remain in constant communication — something that we need so that we can engage in a positive, successful relationship. While I was at home, home-schooling the kids, I longed for the days when we were at arms' reach. After the pandemic started, while most people were suddenly getting extra time with their spouses, I felt like I was losing time with mine. Before the pandemic started, I felt like I was the one "winning" by getting all this extra time with my partner, but once COVID hit, I felt myself becoming jealous of everyone else who was getting to experience that for the very first time.
And then, with him leaving for work each morning, I found that our relationship changed — our communication decreased and our needs were different. While I was craving the time with him, I was also in need of some time without the kids, which left me feeling at odds with myself. I had to decide between time together so that I could see my partner versus time alone so that he could take the kids out for a bit to give me some time to breathe.
This new work-life separation was a big change for us, so it became increasingly important to set “quarantine expectations.” I was keeping so much inside that I was worried I was going to explode. I felt like I was managing everything at home, wearing so many hats at the same time, that we needed a new routine that worked for us all. In speaking with friends, it was clear that schedules that worked for families before were no longer working, whether both parents were at home or not. We sat down to have a conversation about what a new schedule would look like, from cleaning up after meals to giving me time after dinner to get some work done. It was clear that if we lost our communication, everything else would fall apart. So although I found it hard to ask for help, I had no choice but to communicate my needs with him.
Being home all day with my kids made me forget what it was like to have an adult conversation. As you already know, I really missed my partner and our time together. We needed to carve out alone time each day, even if it wasn’t a long time. We also needed some fun to lift us up at the end of a long day, whether at home or at the office. From Netflix shows to making a fun dessert to look forward to, we made sure to schedule some time for just us. We got into the habit of having an adult “ice cream night.” While one of us was doing bedtime, the other would order a surprise ice cream from a food-delivery service. This was a fun thing we liked to indulge in, and it gave us something to look forward to every now and then.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
I can’t stress it enough: Communication is key. Have a problem? Communicate it to your partner, not to your friends. Too often, we find ourselves in a position where we are venting to our friends instead of communicating with our partner. We all need some time for some girl talk, but be cautious about going to your friends with your relationship problems. You and your partner are the only ones who can do what needs to be done to keep your relationship stable. There is no question: Communication is essential to a healthy relationship.
Has this time been ideal? No. Has any COVID-imposed situation been ideal? Probably not. But in relationships, there are and will be many challenges. This was just another one that we needed to work through. At the end of the day, it’s how we get through the challenging times that really matter in a relationship.