Nurturing relationships in the time of Corona

As we head into week six of lockdown, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that frustration levels are running high. If you belong to a neighbourhood WhatsApp group, you have likely noticed a shift in the tone of the messages. Initially, we got messages encouraging us all to paint rainbows on our gate, and step outside at 7:00 pm to blow our vuvuzelas and bang our pots to show appreciation for the frontline workers. These messages have since been replaced with endless complaints about people not wearing masks on their daily walks, badly behaved dogs, inconsiderate drivers and endless debates as to whether lockdown should be lifted or not. We are frazzled, we feel uncertain, and that’s okay, but we need to remind ourselves that we can only get through this together. We need to nurture rather than neglect our relationships, both with our family, partners and broader communities.

There are many downsides to lockdown, but one upside of spending so much time at home is that it has forced many of us to confront issues that were previously on our “to deal with in the future list” when it comes to relationship dynamics. We received the following from a client; she shares her experience of lockdown, forced retirement, and what it has meant to their relationship.

“A surprising consequence of lockdown is that my husband and I, after 51 years of marriage, have experienced what it would be like to retire, and surprisingly, we are both enjoying it. Before lockdown both of us were still very active – he worked full time in his GP practice, and I filled my time by working part-time at a psychiatric clinic, giving five yoga classes per week and playing golf at least three times a week. The question of retirement often came up, but both of us were loath to give up a reason to get up in the morning, and we were frankly worried how we would cope with each other 24/7. Well, lockdown fast-tracked our decision, and the results have been positive.

We have learned to accept that we are very different from each other – he is content to read and be on his iPad for most of the day, which is fantastic because he is not in great shape physically. I, on the other hand, have loads of energy so I rarely sit down until about 5 o’ clock, when I can enjoy a glass of wine.

I don’t expect him to help me cut the lawn, but he doesn’t expect me to sit with him for hours on end. After 51 years of hard slog, he is finally able to indulge in things that have always interested him, but never had the time to pursue – music, opera and literature. I fill my days with housework, gardening, yoga, exercise and reading.

Thank you, Covid-19, for giving us the opportunity to experience a new way of being. We love it. The unknown, which was so frightening, has now become the known and we are adapting very successfully to this new way of being.”

Comments (2)

  • I’m single and living alone with my cat Pearly. Luckily she is there for cuddles and attention. The staying at home was a welcome relieve from the work situation which irritated me more and more. However we got connection to work from home online. That in itself have given me something else to do other than house chores. I’ve come to the realization that I resend going back to the work office. This can become a new normal for me.
    I only have two years left of official work and that stressed me out. I become anxious about it and don’t really know how to handle this.

    • Dear Rosemarie, thanks for the message. Lockdown is proving to be very stressful in so many ways, anxiety is normal, but please remember to reach out if you are struggling. Take care.

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