Together, apart: What life is like as a couple separated in lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Thanks to Covid-19, we are either all on top of one another or miles from the people we care about.
On one of my daily mandated Boris Walks, I crossed paths with a friend who lives nearby out for a run. Last time we saw each other we could stand closer than six feet without curtains twitching.
After the usual pleasantries – You look well, nice weather today, do you think the global pandemic will mobilise workers into rebellion and overthrow the western capitalist society we have always known, no I didn’t see Britain’s Got Talent – we asked how the other’s partners were coping.
He and his wife live together, my girlfriend Ellen and I live 20 miles apart. In lockdown, she might as well be in Cuba.
As we parted ways I felt a huge pang of jealousy. He seemed to be adjusting to The New Normal with ease; I could imagine him and his wife both working from home at the dinner table, cheerfully clinking mugs and tapping on keyboards as they got through the lockdown together.
My routine is closer to groaning out of bed, dragging myself to my dining room-cum-office, slumping back to bed and repeat.
‘We have numerous calls every day’
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I’m not alone in feeling glum without a loved one – Jo Perrins, 56 and living in Hadleigh, tells me she is in the same boat.
Her partner of two years, 52-year-old Trevor from Felixstowe, is a key worker, a crane driver at the port, and the two cannot see each other until this is over.
“We keep in touch with numerous telephone calls a day as I am struggling a lot in isolation as I live alone and am really feeling down,” she said.
“He is doing his best to keep me going, but it’s not easy for him as I am being a pain.
“Bless him, he still loves me loads, as I do him and cannot wait to see him when this is all over.”
Is there any advice on the best way to get through this?
Both Ellen and I have said being apart from a loved one in these conditions had us cycling through the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
You would do anything to be able to see another person, you refuse to accept this lockdown will last as long as you are told and you shout at inanimate objects for having the unmitigated gall to fall off the kitchen counter. You know, normal stuff.
So, with no authority in the issue, here is some pointers to help you get through a long-distance lockdown:
• Make time for each other: The time you get to spend together in isolation is valuable. Make a time for a video call and stick to it, stay in touch regularly.
• Do things together: You can watch TV, play games or lay in the sun (in gardens where applicable), but anything you can share while you are apart is a bonus.
• Manage your expectations: It’s still fun, but watching a Netflix series together, either over the phone or online, is not the same as being together. That’s okay, don’t put any more pressure on those moments. Everything is hard enough already.
• Make plans for the future: Rumour has it we will eventually be allowed to see each other again, so what are you going to do when that happens? Plan a trip, make a date, or put a solid 24 hours aside and binge Catfish with a huge bowl of popcorn. Try and make it something you both enjoy.
‘I can’t imagine this relationship with no FaceTime’
Victoria Shannon and her partner David have been together 18 months and are well-versed in using technology to keep in touch.
Her work as a touring stage manager and his training to become an RAF aircraft mechanic keep them busy and moving much of the time.
Now for the first time they are both at a standstill in lockdown, but she is in Lower Raydon and he is at home in London.
“We are both at home for the first time in our relationship and we cant see each other. We now have time, but can’t use it,” she said.
“We’ve continued to FaceTime (he met my parents for the first time), call, play games and watch Netflix together.
“Technology is so advanced now, I could not imagine holding up this relationship during the war with no FaceTime.”
Problems in perspective
Victoria ended her story with an important reality check.
“I’m grateful that we are together and everyone else’s health comes first before we even think about meeting up. We have time to grow old together, other families don’t.”
She is right.
So, in these strained times, if you have the luxury of bristling when your partner fails to load the dishwasher or fidgets through the night, spare a thought for the couples who can’t be together right now.
Then we can all take a moment to remember why we are doing this in the first place – the better we isolate, the less people we will lose.