How to Survive Cohabitating with a Partner for the First Time During Quarantine
by Allison Danish, MPH
When it comes to newly living with one another, couples look forward to tons of cute moments… but being trapped with your partner under quarantine during a global pandemic is NOT one of them.
Once again, we spoke with the ever-flowing spring of knowledge, certified sex therapist Heather Davidson of Better Being Main Line. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re living with your partner for the first time during quarantine:
1. Give yourself (and your partner) room for error
"This is not normal. And because it is not normal it is likely that both of you are not acting normally. You may be reacting more negatively to your partner & vice versa due to loss of coping skills/hobbies, lack of privacy/space, changes at work, etc. Keep this in mind & give yourself, & your partner room for error."
2. Be conscious of the honeymoon period
"And again... this is not normalSo for the newly living together couples that are in bliss together despite the quarantine, know that there will be a big adjustment to “real life” post-quarantine. While none of us know what life is going to look like post-quarantine I think it is important to at least have conversations about what will likely change."
3. Be gentle but direct in your communication
"Make sure to communicate your needs, but do so in a calm & assertive way."
4. Celebrate your “firsts”
"Even though you are both in quarantine you are still having “firsts”—first dinner in our new house/apartment, first wine night in the bathtub, first spring being able to work on the garden, etc. It is very positive for couples to share these experiences together regardless of quarantine status. Take photos & make happy memories despite the stress."
5. Review the relationship logistics
"Start a "business of marriage/relationship meeting." I often suggest to my couples that live together to have a weekly meeting where you review finances, short-term schedules (ex. who is taking the kids where this week, identifying free time for each other), long-term planning (ex. for vacations, house changes/repairs, family planning) & emotionally checking in with each other. If you have a carved out time when you address these issues with your partner weekly, you do not have to bombard each other during the week. Instead you can focus on having a good week together knowing that you will address these issues at the designated time. I do think having a “business of marriage/relationship meeting” is healthy for any couple, and could certainly reduce conflict for couples during quarantine."
6. Take quality time apart
"Yes, we are restricted and cannot do anything in person, but do not forget about your friends or hobbies that you enjoy without your partner. Make sure to see friends via zoom or talk on the phone. And the hobbies that you can still engage in, do so, and do so without your partner. It is healthy to take time and space apart from one another, and you will likely both need more of this during quarantine."
There's an enormous a learning curve when it comes to living with another human, even under normal circumstances. From toothpaste etiquette and toilet paper roll orientation to alone time requirements and just how much square footage of couch your partner really takes up—it ain't easy.
Buuuut even though N95 masks are in short supply, love certainly isn't. You and your partner are in this together—and that's something to be grateful for.
Want to learn more about Heather Davidson? Check out Better Being Mainline's website.