RD&T contributing writer, Tal Araim, encourages people to take the time to consider the quality of their relationships during the Covid stay-at-home orders. He says it’s a great time to have some hard conversations.
I can’t even begin to imagine what victims of this pandemic are going through. I had two weeks of fever, headaches, shivers, and nightly sweats, but comparatively speaking, my case was considered mild. I wasn’t even tested as my breathing was fine. My daughter, however, gave us a bit of a scare; she stopped breathing and had to be taken to hospital last week. We were told that even her case was not considered severe; they concluded that yes, she must have Covid19, and yes, she probably caught it from me.
Luckily, her immune system shut down momentarily, had an asthma attack, controlled the virus and then resumed normal breathing, and continued to fight it. I have to say that the lack of certainty was not reassuring. It seemed as if the medical staff can only give an educated guess and because they were so overwhelmed, they were calm and very matter of fact about my daughter’s condition. We sympathise with all medical staff, we wish them all the best during this time and are eternally grateful for their efforts.
So that was the fun and games we’ve been having over the past three weeks. This week, however, has been completely different. Our main problem this week is to figure out how to cope with the lockdown. On the face of it, telling someone all you have to do is stay home and do nothing sounds very manageable given why we are being asked to do so. Anyone with at least three brain cells can see that really there is no argument here; we need to stay home, stop the spread, help the medical staff, and do our bit to get us through this pandemic. Having said that, we are still human beings with thoughts and feelings and a wandering brain.
Testing Your Relationship
This gets me to the reason why I think Covid19 may have unwittingly done one good thing: If I was told to devise an experiment that can truly expose how couples truly feel about each other, I wouldn’t be able to come up with better conditions for such a study than those provided by this global lockdown.
Think about it, take away all the elements that give us a boost of good feeling throughout that day so that we can face our partners with a smile and the majority of those smiles will disappear. Yes, of course, there are those that are truly in love, and if they were told you can have £10 million right now if you leave your partner and never see them again, or you’ll live in poverty for the rest of your life, but you can stay with you partner, they would say, “We’ll take poverty as long as we have each other.” But something tells me that perhaps the majority will not take this option; especially if they’ve been together for a while.
We need external sources of good feelings to make long term relationships manageable.
These sources include work, friends, hobbies, socialising, travel, and in some cases, affairs, drugs, gambling, shopping, and any other activity that boosts our sense of achievement and self-worth. We have a great game of tennis then we go home and it’s easy to say, “Hi honey, I’m home. Gee, I really missed you today.” We go shopping and buy an item or two that we really wanted and then find it effortless to text our partner and say, “Thinking of you, can’t way to see you later.”
For some, maybe it’s a great day at work where our input was noticed and valued, or our banter with our work colleagues made us feel so good that we go home smiling and ready to play the part of a happy partner. Well, all those sources are now gone, and it looks like they will remain gone for the next two to three months if not longer.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but isn’t it quite telling how the majority of the funny videos and social media posts going round have a common theme? Partners fed up with each other who either moan or ask to be rescued from their living hell.
Talking About the Future
Since we have virtually nothing else to do, I think we’ve been provided with a wonderful opportunity to cut the crap, stop pretending, and have some brave conversations about the future. Before you even start to say, “This guy is nuts,” you want me to tell my partner that I’ve been faking on the outside, and the truth is I don’t really love him or her as much as I pretend I do on the inside? I just want you to say no, this is definitely not what I want you to do. We don’t want to increase the current death toll. What I want you to do is to make time to talk about one of the questions in the quiz below. Maybe just pick one per day (not that time is an issue these days), and talk about it, then park it there until the next time.
The purpose of this is one thing and one thing only, to have more fun in your relationship when the lockdown is lifted, period. There is no other reason. I hope you enjoy this quiz, and I hope it leads you two to a ballsier, more fun-filled relationship, and away from the stereotypical box-ticking, image-focussed, politically correct relationship that kills the fun, the libido, and the playful cheeky you inside that’s dying to come out and play.
The Golden Rule about this quiz: Please don’t lie just because you’re hoping to score well. A fake good score is a wasted opportunity. Read these statements and answer between 1 and 10 (1 if you strongly disagree, 10 if you strongly agree). You can take this quiz alone or with your partner.
- I’m very satisfied with our sex life.
- From exotic foods to hobbies and even our sex life, our level of adventure is virtually identical.
- We both find each other equally funny.
- I never find my partner irritating; I kind of like my partner’s flaws.
- If my mobile rings and I see that it’s my partner, I immediately exhale and smile because I know the conversation is more likely to be fun or loving rather than functional and stressful.
- I don’t mind doing boring chores with my partner; we always seem to make it stress-free and sprinkled with banter.
- If my best friend calls me and I’m with my partner, I answer and speak freely. I never feel as if it’s probably best to call back later so I can talk more freely.
- Planning a day out or a holiday with my partner never gets stressful.
- My friends can visit me at our house any time, I don’t feel this irritates my partner or that I need to get permission.
- My friends think I act exactly the same when I’m with them on my own or with my partner.
If you scored 75 to 100, then then this is my message to you: If you two both answered truthfully, it looks like things are going great. You don’t seem to be going down the usual path couples go down where things stop being fun and become far more functional or frictional. Well done, you have my permission to continue with this relationship.
However, I want you to promise me something. Keep gauging the fun, laughter, and freedom of expression. Not just yours, but your partner’s, too. The minute you start getting red flags, minor doubts, or even just trivial curiosities, DO NOT IGNORE. These are messages from your brain saying, “Find out what’s going on please.” By the time you decide to commit long-term, you want all such questions answered. You want to know what are the habits that ruin a good thing and what are the ones that keep the love alive, and you want to know this now while things are going great.
Feel free to get in touch anytime with any questions, no matter how trivial, even if it’s, “The other day during sex I felt as if his/her heart wasn’t in it. Is that just me or does this mean anything?” I love such questions, they clearly show that you two still care very much about each other. They are requests from your brain and your heart saying, “What you have is good, good things turn bad if we sweep questions under the carpet. I don’t want this to turn bad, please find out why these questions entered your brain.” Such questions are windows into each other’s minds and nothing makes the fun and excitement last more than full nudity of the mind.
If you scored 45 to 74, then then this is my message to you.
It’s going ok, even though you may not think so, but you’re at a crossroads. Things started really well, but now some of the fun and excitement is a tad less and perhaps one or two minor doubts are beginning to creep in. These aren’t major doubts, and this is why you’re at a crossroads. These doubts are entering the equation for one of two reasons: Either you two are not compatible for a long-term relationship, or maybe you two are, but you’re practicing bad habits that slowly but surely chip away at the fun until you become the stereotypical couple where you appear united on the outside but inside you feel far more alone.
This is what happens to the vast majority. They get to this stage and then start sweeping things under the carpet because they don’t want to seem too difficult or picky. They also don’t want to start all over again so they tell themselves that things aren’t really that bad. Instead, they decide to make the best of it, minimise friction, ignore any silly trivial doubts, and march on. This is exactly why 50% end up divorced and from those that stay together, 80% become stale and unhappy.
To make sure this does not happen to you, do not ignore any doubts.
Find out if you are incompatible or if you’re practicing bad habits. The first step is to find out what are these bad habits and stop doing them. If this eliminates the doubts to a point where you can truly say you are each other’s number one partner for fun, laughter, and freedom of expression, then carry on. If you don’t get to be each other’s number one for those three things then have the self-worth to make the right decision. Agree that you are better off as friends, do not waste this one life of yours, and far more importantly, do not bring children into a home where the parents laugh and relax with their friends but not with each other. This is the number one reason why children grow up with low self-worth.
Feel free to get in touch anytime with any questions, no matter how trivial, even if it’s, “I think my partner’s best friend doesn’t like me. Is that just me or does this mean anything?” I love such questions, they are keys to what is really going on and what is the best way forward.
If you scored 10 to 44, then this is my message to you.
Your answers are telling me that this relationship is not going to be a wonderful fun, open, ballsy, and honest friendship. You may be persevering with it just because you believe it’s better to be with someone than to be alone. Well, in today’s world, we don’t need a partner. Being alone can provide you with a million times more happiness than being with the wrong person. Give up the wonderful freedom of being single only if it’s for the right person who will enhance that feeling of freedom. It’s true that your happiness should not be your partner’s responsibility. However, a partner should also not be an obstacle to your happiness.
The Right Person
The right person is the one you consider to be your number one partner for fun, laughter, and freedom of expression. It’s highly unlikely that you will become such partners. Yes, you may become pleasant friends who are kind and good to one another, but this is not enough. This is what most people don’t get. If from the first year, all you have is pleasant and kind without any cheekiness, laughter, or nudity of the mind, it means that in ten years, you’ll either be Mr. and Mrs. Mind-
Numbingly Bored Stiff, or you will be communicating through solicitors wanting to make sure you inflict as much pain on one another as possible. This is why 50% get divorced and 80% of those that stay together are unhappy.
The question is what can you learn from this relationship so that you become better at recognising red flags earlier next time. For this, I really hope that you contact us so we can give you some information about the better habits and understandings, the more useful and telling gauges, and the out of date misconceptions that society still promotes as being good.
I hope that makes sense, and I wish you all the best. Remember, you are a wonderful human being that deserves to laugh, feel good, and feel loved at home, not just when you leave your home and hang out with your close friends.