• Brettney Douglas-Al Hindi

How Couples Can Survive During the Quarantine

In the words of Erykah Badu, "Sistas how yall feel, brothas yall alright?!”

It was all good like a month ago when life was seemingly normal.

We were vacationing, going on dates, meeting friends for drinks and appetizers after work, picking up our children from their extracurricular activities, you know, living; or so we thought.

Then, it all came to a screeching halt, shit got real just like that.

Within a few short weeks, life as we knew it had changed so suddenly, so unexpectedly, without anyone's permission.

At this point, nearly half of the U.S. is under some sort of stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the vast majority of us are blessed with the opportunity to be quarantined with loved ones, in spite of the craziness happening in the world around us. And, while nearly every major event/large gathering, schools, nonessential businesses, and even the NBA is canceled until further notice; our connection to self and the people that we love doesn't have to be.

So much, we took for granted; like the simple pleasantries of life.

Before I get too mushy, I'll keep it a buck with yall. I too have ups and downs adjusting to this necessary evil, and finding healthy ways to cope with this 'new normal.'

Prior to this fiasco, I was used to being home alone with my two children full time; given my husband's hectic work schedule and extensive travel. But now that he's working from home pretty much 5 days a week, I forgot how much he can get on my nerves sometimes (laughs).

It was cute like two weeks ago when the quarantine was fresh and new.

I would work at the dining room table like I typically do, alternating between writer and homeschool teacher; and checking on him periodically while he worked in our bedroom turned makeshift office.

I lived for the random moments when he would come out to check on me, and we'd lock eyes like old times, or when I would cook a nice meal for everyone and bring him some food, and he would greet me with some sweet kisses. I looked forward to our daily meme exchanges on IG where we'd share a laugh or steal a few minutes to take a break for some midday cuddles.

Did I mention he's also growing a beard? Yall know how we feel about them beards ladies!

I saw a tweet that said, "Bout to be a lot of babies born in 9 months with all this “workin” from home."

That could not be further from the truth, except that's not my truth; having any more children is a hard no for me, but do your thing, sis!

Now that it seems like this lockdown may be a bit longer than we all anticipated, I am sending endless love, positive vibes, and prayers to you all because old habits will resurface and tap dance on your last nerve.

Between him leaving facial hair all over the sink, and my clumsy ass tripping over his dirty clothes and power cords on a daily basis, I'm over it. But, what really drove me over the edge was when he ate my pint of Gooey Butter ice cream and my Kingsize KitKat Bar.

The audacity of this man! Like who does that? He had his own ice cream, but chose to eat mine instead?! On top of that, he left the evidence on the counter, how selfish, oh the disrespect! Then had the nerve to be on some, "babe, I'll replace it!" I rolled my eyes and said, nah, I'm good.

It hits different when you had your life planned around your snacks; like I pre-planned binge-watching some shows on Hulu and Netflix and which snack I'd eat first.

I'm sure some of you have experienced this a time or two, so you get where I'm from, right?

I digress.

Life is good.

I remember the days I prayed for this; more time to spend with my husband, who also happens to be my biggest cheerleader and best friend. We had gotten so used to the hustle and bustle of life, and having to sacrifice time apart in order to make ends meet, that we didn't realize how much we missed each other. Now that we've found ourselves in a mandated quarantine like everyone else, we're doing our best to make the most of it, and 'make up for the lost time.'

So how do couples not just survive, but thrive during these times of turmoil and uncertainty?

1. Reconnect with your partner inside and out

Rather than drown in self-pity about what you can and cannot do during this time; dare to change your perspective. There are so many people who do not have the luxury of being confined in their homes with anyone other than themselves; so think of it as a blessing. The fact that you can be safe at home with someone you love and care about is amazing. Now is the time to reconnect and learn about your significant other. Talk about any and everything from their fears, hopes, and dreams. While the world is in rare form, it will definitely bring out the best and worst out of people; so be open to getting to know how your partner is coping or not coping in the midst of all of this.

Take this time to learn how to communicate more effectively, and get clear about what each of you needs and want, and how you can help support each other. Have those tough conversations you've been avoiding, and start planning what the future looks like.

2. Be spontaneous

Now that we have some control over what we do with our time, put in the effort to do something fun and creative at least once a week. We all heard the saying, do what you did to get him/her, and that is so true, especially right now. In so many ways, we are forced to be creative and think outside of the box, which I think is a beautiful thing. Find a cooking video on Youtube and recreate a recipe by surprising your mate with breakfast in bed, or a candlelight dinner. Get dressed up like you're going to the club, and have a dance party in your living room with @dnice on IG live, and dance the night away after a stressful workday.

3. Take it easy

With our stress levels through the roof, take time to unplug and unwind. Remember that this is the first time that anything like this has happened to this magnitude in many of our lifetimes, so take it easy on one another. Find a lighthearted activity that you can do together like watch a funny movie, yoga/meditation/pray, and/or do a puzzle.

At the end of the day, there is no one size fits all remedy for creating a sustainable relationship during hard times. You have to be willing to do the work individually, and collectively; so that you can figure out what best suits you both. In times of hardship and fear of the unknown, have the courage to be honest with yourself first; and have an open heart and mind to let your partner in.

While this unexpected turn of events has shaken us to our core, remember to look within, and to keep yourself grounded; with an attitude of gratitude, remembering that love and connection is all that you need.

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