My friends who live alone refuse to let me complain about anything during this quarantine. As soon as I start to be the least bit self-pitying, they cut me off with, “Well, at least you live with someone!”

Okay, while I may be social distancing outside the house, it’s true that I’m not social isolating at home. Still, as one friend put it about her husband, “I married this guy for better or worse but not to be marooned with him on a desert island.”

The country is opening up now, but those of us of a certain age will be the last ones invited to the party. We have to be prepared for a long haul that will take skill and will as we continue to be paired up in a confined space day after day.

Here, with input from my cellmate, are my top 10 recommendations for making a go of it:

Be Where He Isn’t

No matter how small your living quarters, physical distance counts. Put up a curtain, have designated “alone time” in the bathroom, go outside on different schedules. Nothing’s harder on a relationship than being face to face 24/7.

Get Two Pairs of Earphones

The only thing worse than your interminable Zoom conferences are his interminable Zoom conferences. Earphones are saving many a marriage during this pandemic, so run, don’t walk, to your nearest tech dealer and order two pairs right away.

Don’t Sing Along

Well, I just extolled the virtues of earphones? What good are they if you insist on singing “Toreador” at the top of your lungs during a live stream from the Metropolitan Opera?

There are many wonderful opportunities to see Broadway shows, benefit performances, and a whole host of concerts right on your computer, but be smart and enjoy them silently or lip synch as you follow along.

Lower Yourself to Use Paper Plates

Even if you are a committed environmentalist such as I, the dishwasher can look like the enemy after three months of preparing three squares a day. When it comes to utensils, pretend you’re on a picnic and use compostable bamboo or even plastic once in a while.

You can salve your conscience by reminding yourself that the environment is getting a big break during this pandemic, so your adding a bit of solid waste to the town dump is not the end of the world.

Go Out on Dates

Even if it’s to the Starbucks drive-through a mile from your house, having a destination gives you a reason to get out of your pajamas, into some real clothes, and see something different. Since novelty provides a real pick-me-up when one day seems just like the last, look for new places to walk or drive.

Learn Something New Together

Somehow, it doesn’t work quite as well when you are tutoring him or he is tutoring you. But if you both are newbies, then how much fun will it be to learn to speak Italian, start yoga, or fly a kite together? At the least, it will give you something new to talk about.

Try to Limit Annoying Requests

Put a cap on how many times a day you ask your spouse to call you because you can’t find your cell phone or enlist him in searching for your reading glasses.

If you seem to be repeating, “I just saw it a minute ago!” invest in the Tile, which emits a helpful locator beep from those indispensable items that just can’t seem to stay put.

Bite Your Tongue

Strong opinions that were perfectly okay during normal times might very well lead to big arguments during lockdown. Recognize that you and your partner are not yourselves.

Free-floating anxiety, money and job woes, health fears, cabin fever, malaise – everyone’s dealing with demons right now that are making them edgy.

Create Occasions at Home

Break up the monotony with movie night, card night, pizza night, whatever. Some women are showering and changing for dinner to make the meal more festive. Others are holding TV sci-fi festivals.

It takes a little imagination and a bit of work to vary your routine, but it pays off in keeping up your spirits – and his.

Overlook Each Other’s Imperfections

So he keeps forgetting to put the spoons up and the forks down in the dishwasher. So you can’t remember if your local recycler takes waxy milk cartons or only glass milk jars. So you leave the lights on after you exit a room and he forgets to make the bed on “his” day.

So what? Keep your eyes on the prize, ladies – one day the pandemic will end and you want to walk out of the house with your guy stronger, more loving, and more appreciative than when you walked in.

How are you and your partner doing after three months in lockdown? What strategies are you employing to maintain domestic tranquility? Will your relationship be forever changed by this experience? Please share your thoughts and observations!

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