What We’ve Learnt About Our Relationship During Lockdown

Lockdown on the most part has been good to us as a family. But not without some speed humps.

Our family is from the Eastern Cape and every Easter, June and December Holidays we would make the long road trip down there from our home in Polokwane (then Pietersburg) and later Pretoria when we moved. The road trips were, in my opinion, some of the best times.

But it was not a road trip if my little sister hadn’t smacked me or our younger brother for taking up more space in the backseat than I should’ve or spilt my cooldrink on her lap (Virgos are feisty and iffy about their space). The space was cramped and in small spaces there’s bound to be cattiness and irritability. A road trip lasted about 10-11 hours with numerous stops to stretch, for my folks to get some coffee and sometimes connect with other kids whose parents where on the route too on the way somewhere, perhaps on holiday too. These moments I loved and looked forward to even in the cramped backseat of my dad’s Sedan.

This lockdown has felt like a continuous cycle of the 3 or 4 hours between the stops but with zero stops and a constant need to slap someone as much as took up more space than they should.

This lockdown has felt like a continuous cycle of the 3 or 4 hours between the stops but with zero stops and a constant need to slap someone as much as took up more space than they should.

And rather than slap… Some conversations have had to be had…

Some of the hardest conversations (emphasis on ‘some’) in my married life have happened during this lockdown. And when I say hard, I mean they were harsh, unfiltered words that were brutally honest in our world where we have always believed in “Go for a breather, a drive or have a chat with a friend before you utter unkind words”.

More often than not, the urge to be unkind and to just blurt what’s on one’s mind (from the underwear on the bathroom floor to my husband tripping on one of our kids’ toys) is cushioned by let me focus on getting out of the space and going to work. And by the time the day is done, you would realise that you were in fact unreasonable in the moment.

Now take these feelings and remove space and time. We have 3 children and to be quite honest, there is no time to have space and if you want space, take your space after 8pm in the evening when the kids are tucked in (if you manage to tuck them in on time).

…And let’s just say one could’ve driven to Limpopo in 3-hours to find a husband whilst our very “robust discussion” was happening…

We were neck deep in work, deadlines, kids’ schoolwork and completely thrown off routines when I blurted “I shouldn’t have to ask to get your assistance around here.” To which hubby responded, “You know what gets me anxious to get in and assist? The fact that you judge me when I don’t do things your way. It’s as if your way is only way.”

…And let’s just say one could’ve driven to Limpopo in 3-hours to find a husband whilst our very “robust discussion” was happening…

What we discovered was:

  1. Space buffers are a thing and need to be acknowledged. No matter how small or big. Acknowledge that they are needed and exist.
  2. My husband was not understanding what’s on my plate, he didn’t see it. Because once again – space. During the day, I’d handle so much of our day to day and essentially ‘Made it look easy’, I also attribute this to my inability to want to ask for help. So, I end up doing it all and doing it all well. In this instance, I mapped out all the things I do day to day to my husband who wakes up, does the school drop, attends the extra mural activities and does school pick up 3 out of 5 days a week and then oversees homework with me.
  3. My husband and I’s whole career journey and lives went from making himself available for a few hours a day to myself and our children to trying to wrap our minds around making ourselves available to our children 24/7 overnight. We had schedules we had to throw away completely and readjust to this new normal. We went from career focussed parents to parents with careers, overnight. Our children are always priority but sheesh, we never anticipated we’d never have a choice but to have to spend 24 hours a day with them.
  4. We were not checking each other’s pulses for life daily to a point we exploded. It’s so important to check in with your partner and ask them how they feel, what they are going through and practice empathy right now. During times that are unprecedented as these, it is especially important that we check the pulse of our partners and voice both our feelings.
  5. We weren’t giving each other space and valuing the time we were spending together. Tough right? But try to work in separate rooms if you can and when you have time to be with each other, BE with each other with devices put away and really try to connect – once again, this is the time to check pulses
  6. We were not practising gratitude. My husband had gotten so used to seeing things being done without anyone needing his input and we had gotten so used to delegating things around the house to service providers – Weekly SweepSouth bookings, Zulzi for groceries and Marorisang to take care of Malik on the days where he wasn’t in day-care. So, a simple “Thank you” to each other and reassurance that “You’re doing good” goes a long way. And also letting go of my way of doing things is going a long way.

Some changes we’ve made are that I let go of the dishes piling up when my husband makes dinner, whereas I would wash dishes as I go. I’ve let go of telling my husband that he’s doing stuff in a way that I don’t like (or at least I try) …

What have you learnt about your significant other and about each other during this lockdown?

Have you taken some of the lessons, are you clinging onto the hope that this is just the lockdown personality and not who you said yes to?

Or are you questioning whether this could be the end of the road?

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