The good, the bad and the ugly. How we strengthen our relationship during quarantine.
Having people spending most of their time inside, if not all, our homes are constantly being bashed up. Without the option of going out, our little home transforms into a chaos within days, or even just a few hours! Living almost on site, with ongoing works in front of our house there are days we can barely open the windows, with dust being the real issue. The early sprung of spring, with temperatures already rising higher than usual is not making things any easier. Yet, I refuse to spend most of my time cleaning, I chose living instead. Living inside.
With a flat no more than 45 sqm any sort of change will require some time to adjust to, and with working from home in addition to all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the anxiety that's caused by it, being quarantined with others and having to be around them 24 hours a day is not always an easy task. But this is some of the essence of living. Being ready to cope with unpredictable situations and when things get tough, to be able to readjust and keep living as best as you can. And this is what we do!
I won't say this past 35 days had been easy for the two of us, nor that we spent this time as though honeymooners in denialism, in our own little bubble. It has been a really difficult time for each one of us individually, and jointly as a couple. But this has also been the very first factor that's brought us even closer. No more than a week into quarantine, we found ourselves over-consumed by reading the news 100 times a day and checking the media every other hour following the latest developments. Personally, I almost went insane until the morning I woke up determined to restrict myself from checking the news, down to once daily.
We are not exactly introverts here, but we always take pleasure in nice slow weekends at home doing absolutely nothing and crawling under blankets watching series non-stop. Being an active couple we usually enjoy all the more our time at home and fancy doing all sort of activities one can actually perform indoors. However, we both enjoy our hobbies and our 'ME' time alone too. So whether or not we follow our normal daily routines as per pre-quarantine or we are homebound during isolation, we try to respect each other's space and allow ourselves to take the time needed to enjoy the things we do with ourselves, by ourselves alone.
At the same time, we make sure to spend a good amount of time doing things we love together, on a daily basis. It's amazing how home isolation helped us make up for lost time. A while back I was awfully busy with work, university and other evening activities, sometimes I barely had enough time to relax and enjoy some quality together time as a couple. When all this started and we were forced to stay in, Carlos initial response was excitement as he could finally have me all for himself. We immediately started working on creating a new routine, establishing new traditions, and sharing activities. From video-games, watching new series, spending lunch breaks together, to face-to-face dinning, shared hobbies and re-organising our home. Giving yourself a different purpose everyday, is giving life a more meaningful measure. 'Having a sense of purpose is having a sense of self. A course to plot is a destination to hope for.'
Of course all this did not happen overnight, neither did we try forcing it in any way. We had no expectations from each other and we continued living our lives as we would normally do on a normal weekend, with the sole difference that this weekend was simply elongated. It could be true what they say, that the secret to happiness is low expectations. I think we generally fall into that category of people that will be disappointed when homebound days come to an end. We miss being outside as much as everyone else does, but we avoid discussing about it as we both accept things as they are and find complaining about what we simply can't have pointless. Instead, we stay inside and we accept the new normal. During this time, at no point have we been outside to enjoy a walk and we didn't feel the need to. We both agreed from the beginning that our safety is our priority and with starting a family into perspective, the will to enjoy a walk outside immediately vanished. The amazing power of our minds!
Another thing that helped us going was being able to find positive things in our daily routine, things to feel thankful for. We are currently surrounded by high levels of negativity, so being able to come across nice things and remember all the reasons we must feel blessed is essential. On the other hand, putting effort onto finding those happy things increases your daily creativity, resulting to less stress and anxiety in your daily life. During being creative, we also elevate both our serotonin and dopamine levels in a neuro-chemical equation, which puts us in a calm and at the same time in an energised state of mind.
I find substantial for a relationship the privilege of knowing each other's weaknesses -no matter if you agree with them or not- and the ability to make peace with them as part of your everyday life. With Carlos, we both find some of the things the other person does incomprehensible, and in the past those may have been a cause of argument, but gradually we figured out ways of embracing these as part of who we are. Today, if we see each other doing ridiculous things we take is as normal. Supporting each other's stupidity is for us a necessity in the process of accepting each other for who we really are. From time to time we even help make it happen.
It is true that we don't just have good moments. There is also bickering and some complaining, but there is also an understanding that we are both in this together so we are trying to be compassionate and speak our emotions out loud. As I am the most strict one in the house, I grasped the opportunity to try and drag Carlos into practicing slowing down and into learning how to take our time to enjoy things more. How it's important that we implement saving in our lives and try reducing our waste and the amount of products we consume during difficult times like this. I know this can be extremely annoying to him at times, but I take it as good practice for being patient. lol
Before bedtime, we often share our thoughts and what being quarantined's taught us, our biggest fears, but also how much we will miss being together this much in the future. We are trying not to dream ahead of time or make big plans, but thinking of small steps towards our future instead. We don't know what the future holds for the planet. During the day and while working, we remember to take a moment every now and then to show each other love and affection, to exchange a few words, a quick kiss or a hug. We acknowledge that above all and beyond being partners, we are each other's closest friend and family. I sometimes find incredible how after 50,400 minutes of being constantly together and 35 days in my pyjamas and no make-up on, Carlos never forgets to remind me how he thinks I am even prettier or shinier than since before the quarantine started. So keep the romance going, people!
I on the other hand always remind myself, that the true source of happiness is within each one of us first and in our ability to be grateful at all times. It is essential that we live in each moment, even if it appears to be lacking importance. There are no unimportant moments and there is no end to learning. It is not that you read a book, pass the exam, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born is a process of learning.