Before we all went into official “stay at home” mode here in the UK, I saw a trusted friend who is a high flying divorce lawyer in London. We talked about the future, about the sadness around us, with so many friends losing jobs, and she confided that she thought she had the most secure job in the world. She didn’t say that with a smile on her lips. In fact, she said it with a heavy brow. For 48 hours before our chat, she had received countless emails from clients who were on lockdown with their spouses and families. There was panic in the air. They were already calling it quits. “People haven’t ever been locked in together like this before….never, in the course of their entire relationships, except for maybe their honeymoon,” she whispered. Her warning to me – “be careful.”
Here I was about to take a giant leap in my relationship, in unprecedented times. I was moving in with the boyfriend, but this wasn’t a normal moving in. This was moving in to just be with each other, to see no one else. To be in isolation. My lawyer friend reminded me how lucky I was on one front. There were no legal contracts to what I was about to do so it would be easy to get out of it, when it all went pear-shaped. It should be noted here that she is not the relationship type. Too many years as a divorce lawyer have ruined her for relationships. Her words, not mine.
I left our coffee catchup feeling slightly uneasy. I had never been scared about sharing my life with someone. I loved Steve, I loved our relationship and everything that we had built over the past 18 months together. But, my friend was right, this wasn’t just moving in together, this was being the only person in the world that I could see 24/7 for the foreseeable future, because of the current state of the world. That’s epic, that’s unprecedented, like everything else happening around us at the moment.
On the ride home, I sat atop a double decker red bus. As I watched the neighbourhood I had called home for the past ten years come into view in front of me, I had a bit of an epiphany. I had been thinking hard on the idea of what I was about to do. I was moving to a new place entirely, with a man I’d never lived with before, in a time when the world is quite simply terrifying. What could I do to make this work or at least have it make sense no matter what gets thrown at us? And here’s what I came up with.
Think of your partner as an extension of you. Almost like a manifestation of your spirit. Always be thinking, “what do you need?”
That was my thought, exactly. Let me explain.
If I just looked at Steve as an extension of myself and constantly thought, “what would I want right now to make me feel at home, better, comfortable, comforted, and so forth and so on?” then I could deliver it with compassion and love, no matter the circumstance. If things got hard, emotional, frustrating or tough, I just constantly think, “what could I do to make myself feel better?” and then apply that to my partner. Because at the end of the day, they don’t call them “your better half,” for nothing. They are the person you have chosen to be with. So why not, at every opportunity, be looking for ways to make that person feel their absolute best. If you think of them as you, you would never want to purposefully upset or harm yourself, hopefully, and so you will find it very hard to do the same to the person you love. Ultimately, showing them support is supporting yourself. Building them up is building yourself up. And showing them what love looks like, through thick and thin, is showcasing that what you have is unbreakable.
I’m not saying it is always easy to put this into practice. We all know there are buttons that we can easily push with each other, and the longer you are with someone the more they know exactly where those buttons are. But, if you look at throwing insults like throwing insults at yourself, or purposefully upsetting your partner is upsetting you, it flips everything on its head. You find yourself wanting to show love and compassion, rather than distain or disregard, because that is what you would want them to do for you. It’s really just a different way of showcasing the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Living like we all do at the moment is not easy. It’s not easier for one of us than another. Humans are not supposed to be locked up like this, away from their friends and family. It’s unnatural and it’s tough as hell. Of course there are going to be arguments and heated moments. But just remember the hurt and confusion is on everyone’s hearts. It is everywhere.
I know we can’t kill this virus with love. I’m not that naive, although God I wish we could. But we can kill any darkness that surrounds it with as much love as possible. Martin Luther King once famously said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” What a quote, right? He’s spot on. Choose love, at every corner, whether it’s with your children, your partner, your parents, your neighbour. Hate has a hard old time with love, always and forever. A smile can stop almost any black hearts dead in their tracks and can turn around a person’s day faster than you would believe.
Give and keep on giving, right now. We all need it, each and every one of us, not just your partner. So, if you need to apply the above principle to all of mankind, go for it. We are all connected, so why not think of every bit of love and goodness you put out there as giving back to yourself?