The Secret Life of Habits – Discovering your Partner Under Lockdown

After a number of years together, it can be a bit shocking to discover that your partner has all these habits you never knew about. Of course you’ve had holidays with your spouse, lots of weekends together too. They’ve seen you at your best and worst. This is well trod ground. They know how you’ll react, and you them. But it’s quite a different thing to observe them day-in-day-out, in modes they reserve for others when you’re normally not around. Which is what most of us are now doing, and I find it quite fascinating! So, how should we react?

Well, I guess that depends on what you’ve noticed. Maybe you’ve found out that your partner types while absent-mindedly biting their nails, or unconsciously takes on the accent and intonation of the person they’re talking to on the phone. Perhaps you’ve discovered your partner is quite the gossiper or tall story teller when discussing things with clients or colleagues. Is it that you’ve noticed they tend to waste quite a bit of time procrastinating, and procrastinating involves online shopping? Or do they disappear deep in thought trying to work through problems and figure out what to write while simultaneously tapping their feet? The possibilities are endless!

Seeing the weird and wonderful ways your partner copes with the day-to-day when it does not revolve around you or your family, can be heart-warming or annoying or both. Whatever it is, I like to think it’s remarkable that we can still be discovering new things about our partner years after we’ve met and when we thought we’d seen everything. And maybe that’s the point of view to come at it all from. This Covid-19 induced lockdown is giving us the opportunity to see our partners anew, and not necessarily in a bad way. Notwithstanding though, touching a keyboard after biting your nails is probably not the best hygiene practice, but good luck addressing that one!

And what about us? Are we being scrutinised in the same way? You bet. Even more reason to focus on the positive when noticing certain behaviours in our partner – we might like a little bit of that tolerance when we’re found out too! I think we all probably have innocuous rituals that get us through each day. Whether it’s punching the air when we’ve done something well or chewing on pens while we’re thinking, my hunch is we all do things that alleviate the effort of daily tasks - things that could be perceived as frustrating. And we’re probably not even aware that we do them, so there’s not a lot we can do about changing them. But what about guilty pleasures – the secret things we know we do?

The most illuminating thing of all might actually be examining what we choose to keep hidden, and what we decide to reveal now that we’ve got nowhere to hide. I’m sure many of us are having to check ourselves and give up little vices now that we’re surrounded by our family full-time. Whether it’s scanning the Kardashians on Instagram, sneaking sweets from a secret stash, or putting on a slick of lipstick as we grab our usual brew from the handsome barista. The thing is, we just don’t want to have to explain ourselves to those closest to us when the vice is harmless to them, helpful to us, and a whole lot of embarrassing to admit.

It might not hurt to trust a little and open up though either. Who knows, everyone might have a good laugh at how silly, and therefore endearing, we are. Maybe the question isn’t how should we react to our partner, but actually, how should we act right now.

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