A month or so ago, here's how life looked with a partner: a glimpse through a foggy shower screen, quick kiss goodbye before work, a few catch up texts during the day, dinner and a chat and bedtime.
It's the bit in the middle that has changed for a lot of us. The hours and hours we're suddenly together, living and—if we're lucky—working on top of each other.
In one way it's fabulous (more time to see the person you want to have a conversation with for the rest of your life) but also hard: less time for the person whose head you live inside.
Having been married for, I think it's 27 or 28 years—JP will know that better than I do—there are ways to handle close quarters and ways not to.
Here are the defining principles JP and I live by every single day. Of course, they all translate to 'normal' daily life, not just social isolation.
So, key takeaways:
It's important to know there will be ebbs and flows in every relationship.
It's normal that some stuff you had that was important to you in the beginning might fade away and you’ll feel a sense of loss, but it might be replaced with something else.
Every year for 17 years, JP and I have re-evaluated our vision and purpose together. We make sure our values are clear—our values aren't the same because we're not the same person, but we reset our own then we figure out what our 'as a couple' values are.
We work out the guides for how we go about each and every day to be living our purpose, separately and together. So we have separate purposes and a combined theme. To be navigating life through those makes decision making easier because we're guided by who we want to become and what matters to us regardless of what's going on.
That's a huge part of the bedrock of our relationship but we also make sure we connect in a deep, emotionally intimate way every single day for at least 45 minutes, probably double that.
This is key: both people need to prioritise the relationship. I could get caught up in my goals, he could get caught up in his, and whatever is left over we give each other.
Instead, the priority is we connect every single morning and during the day for a really good amount of time and a private conversation. It's not 'yep, good, how are you, did you get that?' Then we do it again at the end of the day.
The other thing we bring is a lot of tolerance, probably him more than me although I'm never going to say that publicly ... I'll deny you heard this from me, but I can get a little bit antsy and impatient. JP is the water to my fire and will give me lots of compassionate space when I decide it's time to get intense.
The third thing we do? Every single day we share a gratitude of each other. It has to be for the other person, and we say, 'I am so grateful for you because ... ' and then we share a highlight of the day.
And yes, it is okay sometimes to say, 'There was no highlight and right now I'm not grateful for you one little effing bit.' We're human! Some days, I'm not playing.
Remember you can't be everything to each other all the time. I go to my friends and he goes to his to talk, JP doesn't have to be the answer to everything, he doesn't have to always comfort me and reassure me and hopefully vice versa.
Even if you're in the same room as each other, take a break mentally. Go ring someone and get the answer somewhere else, or just don't express it. Not everything has to be shared all the time.
I've been able to get to the beach by myself—adhering strictly to social iso rul
In the interests of honesty, sometimes I get, 'Shut up SP, and don't share that.'
Times like this are a magnifier of what's really going on in our hearts and minds. And whilst I'm not getting it right in every area and there's definitely room for growth and improvement, we're doing okay with it.
Hope you are too. It's so important now to be #strongertogether (even when someone is driving you nuts.)