Quarantine has changed a lot of things for many people, and has afforded some of us with the opportunity to spend a lot of time with our partners and family. With this extra time many couples might expect to feel more connected to each other. But often, in times of a change of routine and circumstance, many couples feel more drained and distant from one another. So what’s the cause of the disconnection and how do we help it?
Likely, much of the time spent with your partner right now involves working, doing chores, parenting, etc. These tasks are often accomplished without much real interaction or communication with one another. This is called “passive time”, and it makes up the bulk of partner interactions – particularly now. Spending increased passive time with your partner often has two consequences:
1. You mistake the quantity of passive time for quality time and cease planning meaningful time together.
2. The quantity of passive time spent together interferes with your ability to spend any time alone to recharge or engage in enjoyable solitary activities.
Here’s a way to see if this is happening in your partnership: think back to examples of passive time spent with your partner in recent weeks:
- Did you feel more relationally connected after these experiences?
- Did you feel more personally energized after these experiences?
While for some of you the answer to these questions may be yes (we all have different needs!)) if the answer to either of these questions is no, it might be helpful to create time for two important things: meaningful time spent together and recharging alone time.
Balancing time spent together and apart is a foundational issue for most people in relationships to navigate, and passive time spent together for many people can interfere with both meaningful time together and planned time apart.
We know that there are barriers to this both within and outside of quarantine, be we want to invite you to start thinking and talking to your partner about:
- How much alone time do you need?
- What would you like to use your alone time for that would re-charge your battery?
- How much meaningful time spent together do you need?
- What counts as meaningful time spent together for both of you? (remember that it can be as big as a living room or backyard date night, or as small as a hug or a shared morning coffee)
- How can you work together to create opportunities for alone time and meaningful time spent together?
We hope that creating and prioritizing these two new categories of time will help you feel more relationally connected and help re-energize you individually and together!