Anna and I have been together for a year now and we already had some talks about living together someday, but it was hardly a short-term plan. Then came coronavirus, with mandatory home office and Anna moved in with me on 14th March to a flat in the middle of the 8th district. We decided on this temporary solution without any hesitation.
The decision was made so that we would not be torn apart for weeks or months even and we chose my flat because Anna’s was not suitable for working from home. We are still living together as we are still working in home office full time but we regard this as a temporary circumstance. She hasn't moved all her stuff yet, only the things she considers necessary are here. She wouldn't want to bind herself here until the questions and framework of living together are fully clarified.
The last three months have been a pretty big emotional rollercoaster. Our separate lives merged into not simply living together, but being together 24/7 - in a way that for months we would not even meet other people, except for online meetings maybe, as we have strictly followed quarantine regulations. In my opinion, this could easily push anyone over the edge and we, too, had some pretty hard moments besides plenty of good times.
This article collects what we have gone through since 14th March as part of this great “experiment”.
Phase One: Joy, settlement
We were very proud of ourselves how we could handle the different problems in the first four or six weeks. We made some rearrangements in the flat, we formed two separate workstations in two separate rooms, I bought a new tap for Anna’s sake. We came up with our new daily routine, played board games a lot, visited deserted places at weekends which made both of us feeling very recharged. This period was peaceful and harmonious, we didn’t feel nervous or anxious about anything. Besides our activities together, we made room to spend some time alone so that we could avoid mental exhaustion.
Typical sentence: We are so good at this.
Phase two: Before the explosion
Come beginning of May and we had arguments sometimes: why you aren't doing it, why you’re doing it that way, why this thing is always here, why we have to wake up at this time. Anna started to feel frustrated because she gained weight a bit which made her feel bad and she constantly complained about it, which made me go totally crazy. By this time we hadn't seen anyone at close range for a long time, only each other. Our frustration just grew and grew unnoticed but we still didn't recognise that some things must change, we only felt that somehow we didn't quite enjoy the lockdown together anymore.
Typical sentence: Why don't you clean the counter after doing the washing-up?
Phase three: total meltdown
A couple of things happened simultaneously in mid-May: our problems which were the result of our forced living arrangements and had been left unattended so far, began to surface. An old illness of mine reoccurred making me sick for weeks and I couldn't even eat properly and Anna had a tough time at work, too.
My illness made me anxious, I felt irritated all the time and we lost interest in sex (it was gone). Also, we had limited chance to get out of the flat so we couldn’t even practice the activity that had made us feel recharged before. And quarantine measures were still in place...We felt miserable at home and we often felt bad in each other’s company, we instantly erupted over anything.
Typical sentence: I’ll just go to the other room...
Phase four: Redesign
The search for a path began, the voyage for finding each other again. We stepped back a little to assess our situation and expectations from ourselves and from each other at a distance. We talked a lot about what things are bothering the other, about how not to be unnecessarily demanding towards each other and about what we need to do to feel more comfortable in our skin. It was a very important step to ease our isolation so we started to meet friends and family again either together or separately.
We now try to give space to each other and we’re careful about spending quality time together that is fun, too. We try to support each other in basically everything starting from small things (like I park instead of Anna or she cuts my hair when I ask her) so that the other person feels appreciated. We regularly check how the other person feels, where we need improvement and what new needs should be addressed.
Typical sentence: I promise that from now on I won’t bug you even if you crawl out of bed 5 minutes before work starts.
Here we are now. We continue working from home, so we spend a lot of time together, but besides lifting the isolation, it’s a positive change that I feel better now, so we can go and visit places and have sex again. It’s been an exciting challenge but a very good test and learning process for later if we reach a certain point in our relationship when we decide to move in together for real. That time we may go on with it with confidence.
Translated by Emese Balog