How We Are Trying To Stay Connected To Our Partners During Quarantine

When planning this post I asked Brian if he felt we were more or less connected since quarantine. I, of course, thought asking while he was online shopping for his first shed was good timing – so he was SUPER into the conversation. He said “yeah, probably” and when I asked him why he thinks we are, his response was “because we give each other space”. He wasn’t trying to be funny. While that wouldn’t have been my response I don’t think he’s wrong. Generally, as a couple we’ve been doing great, with 20 years under our belt we know how to speak to each other and how to avoid triggering each other but we still do. We’ve only gotten in one moderate argument. A huge trigger of mine is if he seems AT ALL annoyed that he has to do anything for the blog – write, shoot, edit, etc. He jokes that I require extreme enthusiasm, and perceive anything less than that is him being annoyed (which is absolutely true). 10 days ago when he said, “wait, what is the garage post?” I almost lost it, outraged that he hadn’t apparently taken notes when we had talked about it earlier in the week. He was baffled at my outrage and calmly told me that he’s sorry that he “looked at me wrong” and “asked a question”.  I forgave him of his crime. 

So besides “giving each other space” what do we do to stay connected? And how are other couples doing? Of course, I turned this question over to my team who are quarantining with partners and we chatted about it for a good half hour during our weekly happy hour zoom meeting. When this happens, we have an inkling that we should make a blog post about it so here we are. Here is what I and the EHD team have been trying to stay in tune with our S.O.’s.

Emily and Brian

I think it’s hard not to be connected when you do so many process-oriented things together – making meals, cleaning the house, putting down kids, parenting, board games, even working out. I think we used our friends as a crutch more than we thought to have “fun” and feel connected. So now it’s just us most of the time and it’s actually so fun and fulfilling. 

We don’t really have date nights, but we do make so many experimental dinners that require us both to follow challenging recipes and do something we’ve never done before. We’ll start around 4 – 4:30 pm and have wine and do it slowly, stretching out the process and not trying to rush the result. The kids sometimes help (which is fun) and if not then we can actually have an adult conversation. It’s like when we used to seek out the best soup dumplings in San Gabriel Valley or he would drive us an hour to the best lobster tacos – except we are making them now. 

The last few years we’ve been really good about giving each other a night totally off, whether in or out, and that hasn’t really changed. About once a week Brian will make some sort of excuse to go to LA to grab like a pencil or “Charlie’s shorts” from our house. It’s an hour and 45 minutes each way and especially since he is the main home school parent most days I know he really NEEDS that time. I think sometimes he just sits in his car, parked, listening to podcasts and that’s totally fine. It gives me one full day a week with the kids which means I can’t get any work done (not sure how two working parents are doing it – SERIOUSLY HOW ARE YOU DOING IT?) but he comes back in such a better mood, excited to see us and I’m sure he likes us more. So yeah, space. 

We also have my spa night, a girl’s zoom night and he has his boy’s dungeon and dragons night. We don’t have big romantic date nights but on Friday nights we make the kids watch movies on the laptop in a guest bedroom while we eat burgers from the only take out place in town, and watch a grownup show (Succession, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and we are starting Normal People this weekend). For those two hours we act like we don’t have kids or like someone else is watching them in another room (the TV, duh) and it’s awesome. 

The last two weeks we have dedicated Sunday morning/lunch as a date time, instead of nights, while the kids are zombied in front of the TV and we actually have energy and feel like talking. Whereas after they go to bed we are usually done talking for the day and just watch shows, read or pass out. 

I think it’s both easier and harder quarantining with kids. Having a buffer of these two really fun little friends to entertain us and keep the day FULL is great in many ways, but no, we don’t get the same marathoning TV time, as much personal time or “long walks” if we didn’t. All in all, we aren’t sick of each other and while it’s not perfect we certainly do really appreciate how much we still really like hanging out together. 

I just asked Brian if he had anything additional to say about feeling connected (it’s 6:45 am and he’s reading the news online with coffee with the body language that says, “I’m not really here”), he said “uh, no, I think we are good on that one”. 🙂 

Ryann and Rocky

In the beginning, Rocky and I joked that quarantine was not unlike our normal lives. Besides me now working from home and us not being able to go out to dinner, our lives didn’t feel that different. We’ve lived together for 3 years and have been dating for about 4 and a half but we’ve always been the couple that spends a lot of time together. When we first started dating, we spent every single day together until I went to school in San Francisco- I guess pointing to the fact that time spent together is our strongest love language.

A lot has happened since quarantine began, though. Rocky still goes to work (his company is essential) but he just started his master’s degree in psychology at Antioch University, which will now be conducted online until September. So on top of working full time he is spending eight hours in zoom classes on Saturdays and at least a couple hours each evening during the week studying or writing papers. So despite living in the same apartment our quarantine experiences couldn’t be more different. I am at home all the time but have generally felt happier, more productive, and less anxious. He is home less but the stress and workload in his life have doubled. That alone would make any couple feel at least a little distant, but a global pandemic plus our combined mental illnesses means we have a lot to navigate. (I’ve talked a bit about my depression and anxiety and Rocky is very open about his OCD and eating disorder. How we deal with them together is probably a post in of itself, so let us know if that is something you’d be interested in).

Anyway, we are trying our best to focus on the little things. When we are out of sync and especially when communication (which we normally excel at) falls to the wayside, we both appreciate small acts of service that are done without one of us asking. Since he started school, for example, I took over doing the dishes (my ABSOLUTE least favorite chore) because he is busier and more stressed than I am right now. But, even though I have more “free time” I have emotional needs that need to be met too. I have empathy for what he is going through, but I can’t take everything on my shoulders. I need to feel loved and supported (and I need help with some chores because boy do I hate cleaning). Luckily by now, we are both pretty good at anticipating each other’s needs.

But you came here to read about cute couple stuff, right?? So I’ll give you a cute one: Rocky leaves for work early so the other day I woke up and walked to the bathroom and found a note that said “I love you” on the mirror. It made my day automatically. Then, when I made my way to the living room I found another one on my keyboard. And then another in the refrigerator. And another when I opened a cabinet to grab my dog’s leash. I eventually texted and told him I smiled so big every time I found one, to which he replied, “did you find all six?”. It was sweet and made me feel loved, and probably took him a total of 5 minutes to create this little “I love you scavenger hunt”. Other than that, we try and maintain normalcy and make sure we are both reaching out to friends and family and not isolating ourselves. My FaceTime dates with my friends are so important to me and lately, he has started face timing his too. For us, it is important we find joy and support in things and people other than each other. Otherwise, we tend to get overwhelmed. It may seem weird but sometimes the recognition that we both need healthy doses of space is what helps us feel connected. That and Italian food. Always Italian food.

Sara and Mac

At first, staying at home together felt a little more like a Honeymoon than a quarantine. We were eating lunch together, playing board games instead of watching TV, and generally feeling very lofty about being in our cozy little home together 24/7. Admittedly, the shine has worn off somewhat. Nowadays, we spend more of our days on opposite sides of the house, we don’t always sit down to a 30 min lunch together anymore (I like to use most of my lunch break actually making a meal, and then shoveling it in during the last 10 minutes), and we’re back to watching TV at night instead of playing board games and having deep intellectual conversations. OH WELL. And still, there are a few changes that being together 24/7 has brought which I’m going to really miss when this is all over. The first is Mac having to leave super early in the morning, and not getting home until super late at night due to a cross-city commute in rush hour traffic. Getting those extra 2-3 hours a day of time with him is going to be really hard to lose again. Secondly are the mid-day cuddles. We started the quarantine by working in the same room all day, every day. But now I’ve moved to working in the master bedroom on the opposite side of the house most days. Honestly, the bedroom gets really pretty light all day, I make the bed, light a candle, open the window, and really enjoy working on the bed with a kitty sleeping at the foot and my notebooks spread out next to me. Plus, we both take several calls a day, and my ears were not enjoying the AirPods extended stay. But it’s nice to know that whenever I need a 20-second hug, he’s only a 30-second walk away. Lastly, we just talk more. About what’s happening at work, about what we’re thinking, about the news. In the old days (lol), we’d come home exhausted by the day and commute, ready to just eat dinner and zone out. But now we find ourselves filling that commute time with morning chats in bed, or talks while I prep dinner (something Mac is usually absent for because he’s sitting in traffic). But what are the things we’re doing to keep things feeling special? Honestly, I don’t know. Ordering dinner and watching a movie could be a “date night,” but it’s also just kind of . . . a night. But every now and then I’ll be in the kitchen cooking, listening to some music, and Mac will come in and start dancing with me. I’m usually trying to scope pasta out of water before it cooks too much, or checking on something in the oven, but it’s sweet nonetheless. Or he’ll yell from the other side of the house “how ya doing?”, or just pop in to give me a kiss on the head or start silently dancing in front of me while I’m on a Zoom call to try and get me to laugh. I guess those are the little moments that make our relationship feel special, and that’s not something that’s necessarily come out of being in quarantine. They’re just little bits of our relationship that are shining a little brighter right now.

Mallory and Chase

As you may know, Chase and I moved in together into our lil studio apartment on Hollywood blvd a few months ago, so when we found out about the stay-at-home order, we jumped ship to quarantine with his family and get some more space & human interaction during these crazy months. We are VERY lucky that this was even an option for us, and we’ve thoroughly been enjoying the fruits of suburbia. It’s much different than Hollywood. We take quiet walks around the block, have a backyard to workout in, and a family + two cute labradors to hang out with. Living with Chase’s family of 5 is both super fulfilling for our extroverted selves but it can also be a challenge to maintain our “couple-time” that we constantly have when it’s just us. After all, quality time is a top love language for both of us, so we thrive on long date nights and deep talks. But we’ve managed to find ways to stay connected, mostly through our daily walks and cooking dinner. We set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day (which I personally rarely hit), but it’s fun for us to have a goal that ultimately just leads to hours of walking, talking, and asking each other personal questions. It’s when we laugh the most, come up with billion-dollar business ideas, and share our feelings about the wild west that is the world right now. We also cook dinner pretty much every day –– Chase is an amazing chef and always finds awesome recipes to try. It’s our favorite hobby and give us LOTS of alone time because cooking for 6 with leftovers for lunch the next day can be a time consuming and arduous task. We also do other little things together, like going on drives or binge-watching Mad Men with secret rice krispie treats that we buy and hide for ourselves so we can sneakily eat them together. All-in-all the dynamic is very different than when it’s just us in our studio & I miss it sometimes, but we make an effort to have special moments for us throughout the day. Chase if you’re reading this, thank you for being my rock through all of it.

Alright, that is all from us but we want to hear your thoughts. Do you have any tips or ideas for staying connected and essentially not losing it while staying at home? Tell us your secrets. x

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