Can all this time we’re spending together be an asset?

My partner and I are staying home and safe together. Honestly, it’s getting a little old.

You’re certainly not alone! Many of us—probably most of us—were unprepared for being, essentially, in quarantine for an indefinite length of time. It’s easy to feel like we’re tripping over each other, or to be unreasonably annoyed by small things, even quirks that we hardly register in more normal times. 

A healthy relationship has both comfort and novelty.

I’m a menopause care doctor, not a therapist, but first, it seems important to acknowledge that we’re in a stressful time. Give yourself and your partner some grace. Next, I’m reminded of research I read several years ago that said that many relationships faded because of boredom, not because of active hurt or bad intentions. What keeps a relationship healthy is a balance of comfort (dependability and predictability) and novelty (new shared experiences). 

So what you might do to nurture your relationship during this unusual time is to think deliberately about that balance. What routines do you both value? Is there anything that could be a more consistent pattern to increase the dependability? On the other side of the equation, think about what you might do together that would be new and different from your own particular “usual.” 

Some suggestions:

  • Read to each other, or listen to an audio book together
  • Sing or play music together (you don’t have to be ready for prime time)
  • Do yoga together (there’s lots of free instruction online), or find a Zumba video
  • Meet in the living room for a dance party
  • Set up a meal in a different location: the dining room, deck, patio
  • Bathe together, or bathe each other
  • Set up a spa for the two of you, including some massage

The key is to find something that will take you out of your current ordinary, something that you’ll both enjoy—or at least agree to play along with. You just might discover something new about each other.