Are we getting a divorce at the end of this, or do we come out stronger? Is he really the one if I’m looking forward to him taking the dog for a walk and my being alone for 12 minutes with the same enthusiasm I used to have for my birthdays?
You’ve always wanted us to be together all the time, so what’s the issue now? – This and other similar questions can come from our partners, and sometimes we’ll be asking them ourselves. How is it possible to have something in your life that, as much as you used to wish for it, you can’t fully enjoy now? Is it never enough? Is nothing ever enough for you? Am I the problem, or is it the other one? Or are we both?
Perhaps on the surface level, we used to wish we had what we have now, but this is not necessarily what we wished for deep down. Spending a lot of time together doesn’t mean spending all that time in presence. There’s a good chance that what I, and perhaps you, used to wish for was more connection, but just being in the same space doesn’t necessarily come with the ability to come nearer with each other, and to connect on a deep level.
There’s a good chance that in this big global mess, the routines in our relationship – our rhyhmic patterns of coming together and coming apart – will also change. The ones that we liked, and also the ones that we hated but that still held us and our lives up in some sense.
When this happens, we can try to keep up and reinforce our old routines, and we can also ask ourselves if we feel like developing some new routines. If you do feel like trying something new, here are a few ideas about refreshing the routines in your relationship.
We pick a day, say every Saturday, when we tell each other something that we’ve never told each other before.
Every day at a given time, it could be the evening, for example, we recall a memory from our life together. It can be good or bad. We can leave it open what guides us in choosing the memory, or we can think of a method for choosing. For instance, one of us can say a year, a holiday, a period, a place, and the other one can recall a memory that’s connected to it.
We insert a routine that happens every day, strictly in silence, without conversation. Coffee in the morning, yoga in the afternoon, meditation in the evening etc. Sleeping doesn’t count!
Question day – answer day
Today it’s my turn to ask a question. My partner doesn’t answer immediately, we wait for 24 hours. That day it’s their turn to ask a question, and I’m the one who answers.
We make a drawing for each other every day. We exchange the pictures at the same time, and we don’t comment on either one.
Future mirror tale
Every day, or once a week, we sit down, and we pretend we’re telling our grandchildren about what their grandparents were like in the quarantine. We don’t talk about what’s going on in the world, but about what grandpa and grandma were doing to kill time. Instead of going to the movies, did we dance in the middle of the living room? Were we having more sex (grandkids older than 12 will care)? As odd as it might sound, we can put a teddy bear in front of us – it helps when we have someone to talk to.
Secret date in the evening with a stranger. We say goodbye to each other at 7.30 in the evening: Good night! And at 8, we meet for a date in the kitchen. Like two strangers would. He invites me for a cup of tea, and we start getting to know each other. From the ground up. What kind of music do you like? Do you have brothers or sisters? What’s your relationship like with your mother? Would you like to have children some time in the future?
None of these are “good ideas” per se, they’re all just ideas. What will make them good is if you take them as starting points, and adjust them to yourself, if you let your imagination take the lead, if you let yourself play, if you find the idea that will be good for you.
Not everything is new the way a new laptop is new, where already when you take it out of its box, you immediately feel like it’s a thousand times better than the old one. The secret to routines are the many-many repetitions behind each one of them: they take shape during this long test drive. If we keep trying to do something – whatever it is! –, then we have more of a chance to avoid coming further apart while spending more time together.
for the translation thanks for my brother, Mate Herner