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Community members reveal the lessons they learnt about love in the past year

by Aiden

How has lockdown locked down love for these couples?

By Kripa Singh

Whether you were in a nascent love found right before lockdown or decades into a happy marriage, every relationship has faced its own set of challenges due to COVID’s insidious reach. Fortunately, many have come out stronger, and after almost a year of weaving our way through the many curveballs, we find ourselves in the month of love reflecting on the lessons that we’ve learnt, and maybe even unlearnt, about relationships in the last year.

1: It’s ok to ask for space. For those in (semi) lockdown or working from home, cohabiting with your partner 24/7 can be a big challenge. However, those who can recognise and articulate their need for individual time have an advantage, as engaging in even one solo therapeutic activity a day can support your wellbeing. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by the lack of space, try stepping out for a long walk, fostering a new hobby just for yourself, or even barricading yourself in the kitchen and cooking up a storm for your family.

2: Divide responsibilities, especially when you have kids. Those who currently have their kids at home all day have an extra challenge on their plate. The best way to deal with this is for both you and your partner to do your due part and fairly take on responsibility. If one of you is sitting with your little ones through their virtual classes, your partner can volunteer to play a game with them after so that you both are getting your respective alone time.

3: Disagreeing is inevitable, but learn to compromise. Squabbles are often inevitable in a high-pressure environment. They could be over petty non-issues like tidying up, or it could be over how to spend money, especially with the threat of losing a job or a business going under during these trying times. The key is to bring up concerns the moment they occur, and to be receptive to your partner’s viewpoint even if you don’t agree. Learn to compromise in practical ways – for example, decide on joint monthly budgets for household expenses, an emergency fund, and individual budgets that your partner won’t have control over. There’s no shame in consulting a third-party expert for big decisions.

4: Distance can be an opportunity. Because of travel and lockdown restrictions, many have suddenly found themselves in a long-distance relationship, whether it’s because your partner hasn’t been able to enter the country, or whether you could only see each other once a month during lockdown. Learn to communicate creatively, not just regularly. Take it as an opportunity to ask about topics that may not come up when you’re out at a restaurant or at a movie, or try virtual games, dressing up for online dates, sending care packages, or even handwriting letters to keep the spark alive. Watch a TV show at the same time with the Rave app, read the same book, or even listen to the same album and discuss it later. Keep reassuring your partner of your desire to be together soon, and have clear-cut goals for when you both will be in a COVID-free world!

DEVKI HEMLANI, Married for 49 years

Our biggest challenge was to make sure that all our loved ones stayed safe and to live as normal a life as possible, taking into consideration all the strict safety measures during lockdown. One of the many perks of being married so long is that our family is bigger than ever, so we’ve got more support. My husband and I were very fortunate to be stuck with our daughter and grandchildren in the suburbs of San Diego, away from the big city where the risk was not as great. I would say lots of patience, unity, support, and understanding is required to overcome hardship during these times – and I can say this with certainty, at any time during a marriage. Admittedly, having a heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, backyard BBQs, and a glass of wine also helps to ease the pain!

DIVYA SUNTEWARI, Married for 32 years

Over our 32 years of marriage, we’d already been through a lot of ups and downs, so this was just another hurdle to go through. It was more about accepting the new way of life and adjusting to new routines. My husband is a physician and was working around the clock, so I did go through anxiety regarding his health and well-being, which I overcame by going down a spiritual path. One of the biggest relationship lessons for me was the rather clichéd, “do not take people for granted”. I learned to value my spouse for his silent support, for the resilience with which he coped with the adverse situations all of us were thrown into, and most importantly, for the patience and care with which he interacted with my mother, who lived with us for seven months during the lockdown.

RASMEET SACHDEJ, Married for 9 years

Our biggest challenge was that my partner was still going to work while I had to homeschool our 5-year-old, whilst being pregnant and dealing with morning sickness. The uncertainty was very taxing emotionally, mentally, and physically, but I overcame it by having my husband take over as soon as he got home so I could rest. By communicating what our needs were, we were able to work as a tag team to get through the hard times.

As cliché as it sounds, if you have the right partner by your side, you can overcome anything, even a pandemic. We learned it’s crucial to give each other space and allow your partner to deal with things in their own way – we can’t force our own ways of coping on to them. Just make sure to check in regularly and let each other know you’re there for one another.

PRIYANKA MAHENDRU, Married for 1.5 years

As newlyweds, it was an extra challenge during our adjustment period post-marriage. We had to rewire our routines, redefine boundaries, and most importantly, give space to each other while cohabiting and working in the same space. We had to constantly remind each other to think beyond the day-to-day and make things more interesting at home. Through this, our relationship evolved from just husband and wife – we became each other’s best friend, co-worker, and sometimes even parent.

Furthermore, we got a chance to go inward during this time, finding ways to feed our respective passions, and we became a lot more kind, accepting and forgiving towards each other. My biggest learnings were: think before speaking, feel before responding, and analyse before reacting.

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