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Confessions: We are staying indoors but I just need time to myself

Readers Lounge By Simon and Boke
I am really looking for a way to have some time alone for myself (Photo: Shutterstock)

We have been married for about 12 years now and have gone through all phases of our relationship. However, in the last five or so years, we have not been spending a lot of time together which we are now forced to because of Covid-19. I am having difficulties with these stay-at-home issues and I am really looking for a way to have some time alone for myself. Please advise on possible ways I can go about this. Can I just tell her that I need time alone or do I have to come up with an excuse about this?

{Roy}

What the readers say:

Roy, this is the time to revive the family time and not to run away from it. Your family needs you, especially at this time when staying indoors is one of the best precautions. Accept the fact that the situation has forced many to be indoors, and use this opportunity to tighten the bond and strengthen the union. You can have family Bible study, do chores together, play with the children and soon life will be fulfilling. Part of the marriage vow is: Together for better or for worse.

{Kevin Moen }

If you read the stages of development by Erik Erickson, you will notice the changes that occur in marriage and realise that what you are going through is normal. At the sixth stage, Julian Melgosa (2019), highlights intimacy and isolation as possible occurrences, leading to mutual trust and development while failure will lead to isolation. If we understand and accept the stages in relationships, our love lives will go on but failure to recognise and accept them will lead to disintegration of any relationship that was blossoming.

{Wanyama Bitonye}

Roy, every change comes with a new package. This is what most Kenyan men are experiencing. It is not easy for sure. Imagine someone who used to go back home at 11pm when the children are asleep is now forced to be home by 6:59pm. It is a challenge. ‘Stay at home’, to some extent, may not necessarily mean that you cannot have some private time. You can. Create some special time of your own. Be creative. Remember, as some men cry foul of time not moving, others, I included, really wonder how time and days are moving so fast within the confines of house and home.

{Ouma Ragumo-Sifuyo }

Boke says:

Dear Roy,

Glad to hear that you are keeping safe by staying home during this time as we all try to keep the Covid-19 at bay. In the seemingly inconveniences, there is some good in all this, that is, families have been forced to spend time together.

This moment allows the family to evaluate their relationship. The routine of life has turned people into automated machines of some sort. This means there is no time to celebrate the good time or resolve conflicts. So we could have partners living together yet they are drifting or already have drifted apart. This is likely to be what you are facing and the staying at home has revealed the state of affairs.

Take this positively and see it as an opportunity to work things out. Begin from unresolved hurts, discuss things through and make it possible for you to forgive each other. If you can regard this marriage above your personal interests and positions, then it would be easy to turn a new leaf. Once you are at that point, then you can work towards reconnecting and rekindling your love.

Find common interests and pursue them. Start from shared hobbies. They can be as simple as reminding yourselves how you met for example for people who love storytelling. You could help in house chores -- many women appreciate such gestures. You could also play an indoor game such as chess or Scrabble. A movie too would do.

In simple terms, you people need to reconnect. Do whatever is doable in your situation to save this marriage. Turn this moment to a real fun moment. If you can get over this without involving a third party, the better.

Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in Counselling Psychology

Simon says:

Roy, I believe that this is a problem of perception and it does not have to be as bad as it sounds. Yes, many people are not used to this arrangement of having to spend days and days with their spouses. This is not just for the men but also for women who are also feeling somewhat tired from being sent here and there, make some more “chapos” like the ones you made on Sunday and being asked far too many questions that otherwise went unnoticed such as why are then dishes left unwashed overnight, and so on. The long and short of this is that too much time together is in many ways bringing people together but is in many other ways breeding contempt among couples.

This, however, need not be the case as the situation can be handled differently and be made to be a win-win for all. The reality of this situation is that this stay at home situation may continue for much longer than we expect so people need to find ways of spending time with their family members. For the children, it is easy and people are learning new games such as chess, monopoly, card games, among others. For spouses, while it is complicated for many, it does not have to be like this.

Couples are getting to learn more about each other away from the busy hustle and bustle of day-to-day life and also getting new ways of spending time together including helping out with household chores, taking a daily jog, learning new skills e.g. baking, making yogurt, new recipes among others. However, as I pointed out earlier, this situation is not easy for anyone and, as such, each one needs their space. In such situations, people can have candid discussions about this and set parameters for privacy. This would allow everyone to have their own “me-time” then later converge for the family time.

Through all this, people should appreciate that personal time is not about not wanting to spend time with the other person. It is just time for oneself and is very important in such difficult times. This global problem has brought many problems for people around the world and we hope that we all make it to the other side safe and sound but it will also bring with it new ways of doing things, keep people and families close together and probably craft new and safer lifestyles for all of us. It does not have to be as bad and difficult as people are making it to be.

Simon Anyona is a relationships counselor

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