Stop Spending (a lot of) Time With Your Partner
Repeat after me: "We need a break"
Adam and I spend every second of every day together.
Even before the pandemic, we found ourselves living the same kind of life.
We both worked from home, both worked out at the same gym, both had many of the same hobbies - so we’d do them together, and shared a lot of the same friends.
Some people would look at us and say:
“Wow, you spend so much time together!”
“Don’t you think you spend too much time together?”
“Do you get sick of each other with all the time you are spending together?”
The answer was aways genuinely NO.
It never felt suffocating.
It usually felt fun.
It always felt comforting.
We got a long really well.
But then the pandemic happened…..
Before the pandemic couples, on average, spent about two to two and a half hours a day together.
I found that shocking. Do you?
Just think about how much the pandemic changed relationships for those who went from spending two hours a day together to spending all day together - without any breaks.
When BIG! TREMENDOUS! UNEXPECTED! life changes enter your front door and disrupt your relationship, you hardly realize their power until so much has changed.
So what kind of change did the pandemic bring on relationship, especially those who were newly married or engaged?
A lot. A lot. A lot.
For some, the pandemic and spending so much time with a partner brought on extremes.
There are articles out there about how the pandemic strengthened relationships and articles on how the pandemic made relationships end.
Rather than the extremes, let’s talk about this:
Help from Experts:
In the pandemic, our partner's habits that normally irritate us a bit can become much more obvious. The Gottman Institute recommends trying to move away from criticizing or blaming your partner by using "I" statements in your communication, such as "I'm feeling", "my feelings are", rather than "you do this, you make me feel".
Many couples are reporting spending all their time together - but very little of that is quality time. It is important to consciously make time to be together as a couple, but also make sure you spend some time apart as individuals, even in the same house.
When you’re annoyed, admit it. What you were able to tolerate before, you now might need to talk about,” says clinical psychologist Deb Derrickson Kossmann. “Communication is essential for preventing your annoyance from turning into anger. Stress, Kossmann explains, can heighten people’s idiosyncrasies — anxious habits are often coping mechanisms. In other words, don’t be surprised if your partner’s foot tapping or nail biting amps up, which, in turn, could create an irk never felt before. Address it in a way that’s inviting and shows that you notice your partner. Instead of “stop biting your nails,” try “I see you’re biting your nails more than usual, how are you feeling?”
We Need to Take a Break
Back when I was dating, if a partner said that to me, I would scream out:
“NO! BREAKS ARE FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED TO BREAK UP!”
But that was before I knew anything about strong relationships or before I had the confidence in myself to say to a person I love, dearly, but also feel exhausted by, that I need some time apart.
So what kind of breaks can you take? Here are 10. Pick one - or all.
A solo vacation - Take a weekend trip to some place that makes you happy or a spot you can relax.
A solo day - I call these day “Jen Days” and I plan an entire schedule for myself. I promised I’d do this once a month. I’ve failed and need to try again.
Pick up a new hobby - This forces you to take alone time daily or weekly to practice the hobby. I’m learning script writing and spending 3-hours every Monday taking a virtual class, alone, with my door closed.
Hour a day - Make this a daily ritual where you force yourself to be apart from your partner. Sit in the closet if you have to (shoutout to those living in tiny apartments with partners right now).
A silent break - If you think this will help, tell your partner you want a silent break of an hour or a week where you don’t talk. Perhaps this can reset the tone or help both of you organize thought, emotions, and feelings.
A fun break - I know you’re supposed to be doing things solo during this “break” but perhaps you pick a fun and unusual activity to do together - like virtual Tango dance lessons.
A fight break - If you’re fighting non-stop, making make a rule for the next week that if you start arguing each of you has to take turns screaming “STOP!” and that means you have to end the fight, leave the room, and spend 20-minutes taking a break.
A phone-a-friend break - If you’re feeling stuck with having just your partner to talk to, all day, every day, perhaps you start a 1x a week phone break where each of you has to go for a walk and call a friend. It will allow you to vent and talk to a different person.
A social media break - Ever think about how much social media is impacting your relationship and your feelings (AKA comparing/contrasting). Maybe that’s the kind of break you need.
A fill-in-the-blank break - You pick the kind of break you need and you take it…well, communicate with your partner about the break first, and then take it.
The pandemic was the first time in my relationship that I realized I NEED A BREAK! I NEED SPACE! I NEED JEN TIME!
I also got married in the pandemic….
It was rough because not only was there no place to go but I also didn’t know how to communicate this so I let the feelings bottle up and then exploded them on Adam, my words - verbal confetti.
I’m still working on this but every time I feel like I need a break, or time alone, or just time to sort out my thoughts, I head to that list of 10 breaks and I pick one, or three, or all of them because I LOVE EXTREMES.
I’m still working on this, okay?
Love you (for as long as we both shall live),
Thanks for Reading This!
New here? Welcome.
I’m Jen Glantz (virtual high-five!!)
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