As part of the social distancing we should all be doing during this pandemic, we need to stay at least 6 feet away from others when we’re out. Now that all three members of my immediate family are home, we’re also aware of the need to provide each other some space within the house.
We’re very lucky to be together, to be healthy, and to have a larger than average house. We have a two-story with a very open-concept main floor, plus three bedrooms and two baths upstairs. In addition, because we live in Saskatchewan, we have a basement, which in our case is finished. There’s a bedroom, bathroom, and main space where we have our gym equipment. Needless to say we have room to get away from each other.
My wife’s domain is the kitchen where she’s been busy cooking up big feeds of pasta sauce and chilli, and has claimed the upstairs spare bedroom if she wants to be alone. Our daughter has her own room and when she wants to be social joins us in either the kitchen area or living room. When not spending time with my family, I’m frequently in the basement either working or working out.
I’ve set up my home office in the bedroom down there, and it’s a pretty sweet set-up. When I’m at work at the university I get up and go for a walk around the ground floor of the Library and do a longer walk at lunch. While I can’t go for walks around the Library, I have a treadmill right outside my office, plus a private bathroom.
I’m also keeping standard work hours and with my move from working at the dining room table last week to the basement, I’ve created the ability to distance myself from my work. When I leave that room, I leave work, but when I’m in there my family knows that I’m working.
While we’re giving each other needed space, we’re also making sure that we intentionally connect with each other. We have meals together, we play games together, we watch movies together, we talk about fun things, and we talk about what’s going on in the world.
We take time apart, but also time to together. Both of these are ways we support each other. Find ways to do these things in the space you have, even if the coming together is with friends, family, and colleagues virtually.
Even as we give each other space, now is when we all need to come together.
When many in the 1950s advocated “togetherness”, Heather’s paternal grandfather (my father) advocated “apartness”. He felt that, if we should indeed spend time with our spouses and children, we also need some time away from each other. He especially thought that married couples should not work together, that being together 24 hours a day created stress in a marriage.
So I am often at my computer in my upstairs home office while my wife (Heather’s mother) is watching TV downstairs in our family room. We listen for each other, and we rush up or down stairs if one of us needs some help. I too watch TV with my wife, and she is sometimes near me in her upstairs home office at her computer. We work together in the kitchen preparing meals; and we go out together for shopping and entertainment (not now during the threat of COVID-19). We practice both togetherness and apartness. This has kept us married for over 55 years.