We are all living in close quarters as we continue to avoid large gatherings and many work from home.
With the decreased personal space it is easier to annoy each other. How we handle those predictable annoyances can make or break our relationships. This situation may be around for a long time.
My husband is an attorney. Court had been canceled. His clients are calling him and demanding action. There is nothing he can do.
A few hearings are conducted by video. Ed finally got a hearing by video and stated he would be "in court" at 2:00pm.
My office has always been at home. After my client at five, with a one hour break, I crept into the kitchen to feed our two Boston Terriers (who have owned us for eleven years and seven years) and get a bite for myself before my next client (last meal was at ten).
Ed scowled, What are you doing here?! and I mouthed back while smiling, “I thought I lived here“. I continued to creep around. Ed finished court then we discussed where he might escape our starving Boston’s and his starving wife for next time. It did not evolve to a fight. A little humor goes a long way and the refusal to take things personally.
Successful marriage requires that we see the world from our partner’s perspective. It also requires that we separate what we feel from what we do—or say.
So to become reactive and angry— “what do you MEAN, what am I doing here?! It’s My kitchen too isn’t going to work and is bound to attract Ed’s anxiety about his clients.
So given the decrease of personal space it is useful to set up some guidelines about who uses what space and when.
In addition, there are some rules for dealing with differences that work well both in and out of home quarantine.
First, stick to the truth always. Lying breaks the intimacy. Second, pick a viable time to discuss problems and their resolution. There needs to be a format for airing grievances and finding solutions. State concerns positively. Use a request model rather than criticism.
Start with a compliment. “I love being so close to you” but I wonder if you could warn me if you want the kitchen to work and I’ll pack a picnic?“
Fight to find out what you are doing wrong rather than to win. And last, hear the message! “ I’m sorry I came into your space. What could we do next time?“
Find things to do. Find movies to watch and discuss. Find projects to work on together and separately.
Take solo walks. It’s healthy and alone time helps us regroup and keeps down our reactivity.
Use free time to play a game. Read the same book and discuss it. Find things to talk about
Think about what you have and pass along those thoughts. Sound appreciative. Play a game in which you share what you are thankful for and your partner does the same.
See who can come up with the most!
This situation may well be around for a while use it to practice good relationship habits.