Weeks before the Coronavirus pandemic, Nishant Sinha, Hyderabad-based roaster was enthusiastic about a new business he and his wife had planned to start. “My wife and I are flying back tomorrow to Delhi,” he said. His wife Sheetal Saxena is looking to start her own venture. “Last night over dinner we discussed how we have become more business partners than a couple!” While the couple spends a considerable amount of time with each other, it is mostly doing their individual work, and less about talking house and home.
Cut to the lockdown announcement: Nishant was seen in a video on social media doing the dishes, while his wife videographed him, appreciating his housekeeping skills. Sheetal is heard saying, “Nishant, thank you for choosing to do utensils, as I hate this chore. This, however, is not enough and you will have to pamper me like always.”
Social media is full of memes and jokes on couples’ spending some downtime together. Shilpa Nainani, an emcee, says, “I thought things would be tough with us breathing down each other’s neck. One weekend or a week with each other is a totally different thing from being with each other for three weeks, minus help at home.”
Shilpa says she is amazed at how her husband, a lawyer, has swung into action and actually seems to be enjoying it. “He does the dishes, sets the table before and after food and basically does things that help me relax. We are also ending up doing our workout together and enjoying the time.”
What about fights? Says Sarita Bhavani, “We are mostly avoiding it because the kids are at home. My daughter now works from home and I don’t want her colleagues to hear us arguing about wrong placement of table mats or a misplaced tea cup. My husband is helping me in the kitchen to speed up work, such as organising everything after dishes are washed and final wipedowns,” she laughs. So how is Sarita keeping away from her kitty group and card parties? “We always make sure everyone eats together at the dining table. Plus, we are playing something that requires a lot of skill: Carrom,” she says, laughing.
A homemaker shares one simple rule to keep it all smooth. “Just ignore the mess. It is social distancing, so no one is going to visit us. I am not complaining anymore about an empty coffee cup in the front room or a shoe under the dining table, till this is over. Thankfully for me, my husband has agreed to manage the kitchen. That comes with cooking and cleaning utensils,” laughs Babli Mohan.
According to an expert...
Myriam Siddham, a psychologist and trainer, shares how couples can nurture their relationship during the lockown.
“If coronavirus does not kill us, we will definitely kill each other by the time this lockdown ends,” say a frustrated couple. Most people seem to be dreading this lockdown more because of the fear of domestic spats increasing.
However, there are ways to navigate through these difficult waters, and maybe also use this to your advantage to reconnect with your partner. Here are six ways to do it:
1. Respect boundaries: If one or both of you are working from home, decide on your workspots, and a common break time to chat and talk. While sharing common spaces, it is important to be sensitive towards one another’s needs, to reduce conflict. It could be things like keeping the volume under control while watching television or listening to music while the other is working, respecting the wish of the partner to have some downtime or letting them take a nap without disturbing them.
2. Decide on a routine: Making a list of chores and dividing the responsibilities and duties between each other would help. Cleaning, meal preparation, keeping children occupied could all be on the list.
3. Limit triggers: Once the routine has been decided, it helps not to remind the other person constantly about doing their part or how they should be doing their work. Arguments or disagreements start when people feel they are being ignored or not being valued.
4. Bond with children: Childcare tasks need to be planned too between the couple. If the children are older depending on the age they could be given age-appropriate tasks to keep them occupied. You could also use this as quality time with your children and talk to them, play games as a family or start a fun family activity together. There are tons of activity ideas for families online.
5. Reconnect: Planning some quality time together daily after work can be helpful. Since our social interactions are reduced to social media now, it is important to talk to one another. Pursuing a new hobby together, exercising together, watching a movie or cooking together could be some options.
6. Accept ‘me’ time: Everyone needs their own space and be on their own for a while. Respect that, be patient, compassionate, and respectful.