You may have heard these seemingly comforting words “Distance makes the heart fonder” when the circuit breaker restrictions spelt out clearly that couples not living together were not allowed to meet or visit each other’s homes and advised to use online tools to hang out instead.
But as a four-week circuit breaker turned to eight, and with weekends spending time only with immediate family members, I started to feel a tinge of anxiousness. It was as if I was the lead star in my own drama similar to the hit Korean sensation Crash Landing On You, where my partner and I are like lovers separated by a border while residing on the same land (drama turned reality much?).
It is certainly not easy to keep to the rules, but it is important for your health and mine to adhere to them, as some may have found out to their detriment.
However, it is not just for the sake of our health and our wallets that we should respect the circuit breaker extension. The past few weeks made me realise that this period has taught me to understand space in a relationship — it feels like I have undergone training on how to be a better, kinder partner to my other half!
Here are some lessons I have learnt.
Being more conscious of my emotions
Staying home on supposed date nights gives me the luxury of setting aside some me-time to read. I find it extremely therapeutic to be able to explore topics I have otherwise neglected and it has allowed me to be able to find peace within myself.
This in turn has given me a greater awareness of my feelings, which allows me to recognise my emotional triggers. Such self-awareness will help build resilience during this stressful time and it’s good preparation for when (because couples definitely will) we fight in the future!
This stay-home period also allowed me to finally begin exploring my interests and hobbies. For example, I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano. Now, with the help of a keyboard and a lot more spare time, I am actually doing it (instead of just talking about it)!
Self-actualisation is an important part of our psyche and the sense of achievement from having done something difficult will sustain you in trying times.
Having greater empathy
Now with everyone at home, I have more time to bond with my family.
I have learnt to find solutions for the day-to-day problems that pop up at random. Finding patience in the mundane reminds me that nothing is ever smooth, and it is how we deal with challenges that make us who we are.
While circumstances (such as Covid-19) may not be kindest to us, we can still choose to be kind to the people around us.
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Knowing when to stop trying so hard
There is no cure for Covid-19 yet. A vaccine may take more than a year to emerge. We are in the circuit-breaker extension. Some people are ill. Others are worried, over livelihoods, over relationships, over future plans. Sometimes, there is no solution in sight. This sense of helplessness can lead to frustration.
I have learnt that sometimes, when we cannot find a solution, there is peace in finding acceptance. Sometimes, we can only tide over the crisis the best we can. Sometimes, time is all that is needed. Sometimes, simply being present to lend a listening ear can make a whole lot of difference.
Setting new relationship goals
Taking a break from my partner has allowed me to engage in some self-reflection. I think back on the journey that we have taken and, more importantly, I can start to plan about what’s next in store for us.
When we meet again, I believe this will help us progress in our relationship as we work towards new shared goals.
Learning to trust
The circuit breaker has had an odd effect on me. I have found myself checking in less on my partner now. My rationale is: “What’s the use of doing so when texting him and thinking of him just makes me miss him more?”
Reasoning like this has got me thinking. And it has made me realise that more trust is needed in a couple when we are not by each other’s sides.
This circuit breaker certainly trained me to learn to trust more, which is the key foundation to build and sustain any relationship.
Engaging in active communication
Probably because we have not met for a long time, I find myself looking forward to talking about how my day went and getting updates from my partner even though I may be exhausted at the end of the day.
Before the circuit breaker kicked in, we seldom took the effort of having such conversations. Let’s face it, many couples (us included) can fall into the trap of taking each other for granted when things are too smooth sailing.
Though I have not found the perfect formula as to how much space to give my partner in our relationship, I am glad to find the personal space to grow to be a better, kinder person to myself and my other half.
Facing Covid-19 together, even while remaining physically apart, can strengthen the bonds of a relationship. Perhaps this is the key to understanding how distance can make the heart grow fonder.