Chronic Communication at Home: All that Pandemic Togetherness Making You a Little Edgy?

So, you and your partner are spending a lot of time together these days.  Most likely, that’s an understatement.  During this pandemic, many couples are 24/7.

So you would think you would be so used to each other at this point that you wouldn’t be getting on each other’s nerves.  I mean, you’ve had plenty of time to develop a whole lot of patience and tolerance, right?

Well, yes.  And no.  Why no?  Here’s a hint: 24/7.

If you’re like most couples, your partner probably has a habit or two that you could definitely live without.  Your partner is really great.   Except when… and then they can well, get on your nerves a little.

And when that “except when” happens, at least temporarily, you may find yourself forgetting  about all of their good qualities.  The result?  Frustration.  Maybe a few angry words.  Silence.

Okay, so nobody’s perfect.  But wow, in these days of isolation at home, those imperfections sure can march to the front of the line and make their presence known.  And if you and your partner are experiencing some tension at times, believe me, you are not alone.


The Flat Spot Emerges.  Your Button Gets Pushed 

When I was growing up, we used to refer to those little imperfections as “flat spots.”  Some examples include: experimenting in the kitchen and leaving it a mess, forgetting half of what was supposed to be picked up at the store, spending what seems like hours on phone calls that you can’t escape from (you really can’t talk any softer?), rehashing the news that you’re tired of hearing about, and on and on.  We humans are quite a collection of quirks, and a few of them are bound to irritate the people around us.

For sure, we love our partners.  But sometimes those little things they do that really push our buttons can leave us wondering if it might be just a little easier to love them right now if they would just stop _______________. Especially right now!

It’s been my experience that the challenges of being in each other’s presence, working all day, maybe watching over children and home-schooling, and then finding a way to spend the evenings and weekend without the normal distractions you have come to rely one, can cause you to be more sensitive to your partner’s behavior, and less patient at times.  Maybe more likely to take things personally.  Especially when your partner does something that annoys or frustrates you, or doesn’t do something you think they should have done.  After all, you’ve got enough to deal with.

So, does your partner have a few flat spots?  If so, here’s how to keep your cool:

Stay focused on the big picture.  The people we love are a collection of qualities that we enjoy and admire.  Most likely, a whole lot of positive qualities that greatly outnumber the imperfections.  It might help to take a step back and remind yourself of all of those great qualities, and while you’re at it, recall a few nice memories.

Reframe imperfections as what makes us unique.  Wouldn’t it be boring if your partner was always perfect?  How about looking at those quirks and contradictions as part of what makes them so darn charming?

Keep your sense of humor.  The best antidote for the frustration and annoyance that your partner’s flat spots can bring up in you is to smile it away.   People are who they are, that’s for sure.  And you just got a reminder of the full spectrum of your partner’s qualities.  So smile, shrug your shoulders, move forward with the day.

Embrace the opportunity to learn patience.  Nobody was prepared for life during a pandemic, so we’re all figuring it out as we go along.  So how about viewing these difficult times as an opportunity to be more patient, more forgiving, more kind?  If you’re like most couples, every day presents a new opportunity.  Certainly these days.

If necessary, have a talk.  If there is something your partner does that you feel harms your relationship, or is hurtful to you in some way, then it may be time to have a conversation.  If so, take ownership for how you feel without being accusatory.  Something like: “I know you don’t intend to get on my nerves.  But when you ______________, I feel _____________.”  See if you can come to an understanding that helps your partner to be more aware of their behaviors, and maybe even make some changes.  But also listen to better understand your partner, and to see if there are any changes you need to make on your end.

What if… You chose to view the challenges of living through these difficult times as an opportunity to know your partner – and to communicate – in a deeper way?

And by the way…  Like I said earlier, nobody’s perfect.  Your partner may be smiling away some of your own unique flat spots and quirks, bless your heart.  Just saying.

You and your partner.  Living through what we are calling “unprecedented times.”  We’re all in this together.