Relationship has to thrive to survive


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All this living together but apart in the same house … it was a risk-assessed choice way back in March. A decision made and reviewed mentally ever since. Yet it works for both of us. Mrs Paul has created and established her own routine. Starts at 7.00am each day (Saturday off). Home exercise, keep-fit and yoga. That’s the front room bouncing for a couple of hours each day. Then shower and change (she has the big bathroom and spare bedroom, I have the big bedroom and en-suite). And after breakfast she is off for a walk. Kind of power walking rather than the meandering I do with Maisy. That takes another hour and a half.

In between I have tapped away here, showered and dressed, taken Maisie for a walk (plod – very slow plod), prepared breakfast – we share a kitchen but not at the same time: diluted bleach spray and cloth every time – get used to the taste of it (eventually)! 😊 That is a joke btw – my middle name is not Donald.  Then take breakfast upstairs to the office (I WFH – have done for years), log-on and do half a day’s work before Mrs Paul is done with hers.

We explore ways of keeping safe and not having constantly red-raw hands with chapped skin scratching everything. Home is our little safe place – and a safe space is comfortable place – can’t be a sterile green (or red) zone. That way is madness!

Upstairs I have the other bedroom for my stuff. A kettle was the most important. Next door to my office. Keeps me from having to be in the kitchen all the time making drinks. Coats were also something we took upstairs. Saves me from being in and out of the coat cupboard all the time. And then I have some keep-fit stuff – some has become more of a clothes hanger. In the early days when not going to the gym was new, I used to do that stuff every day. But I have work and dogwalks and finding-freedom to fill my day.

Gradually the keep-fit has slid a bit (a lot). I have had to put one of the beds on its side. The influx of PPE and another bit of gym kit was making the space unworkable. And who knows when the grandchildren will be sleeping over again. Same with the guitar. In the early days I used to sit by the window looking out – strumming away – dreaming of times past and times yet to come. Now I do that less of “that” dreaming so the guitar waits patiently almost out of sight behind the door. As for the teddies on the window? They are a bit of fun to share with the grandchildren.

We have no “advice” or “rules” when it comes to living together but apart. The government never said we should or must. We thought it would work for our living better if we did. Mrs Paul was able to go shopping, help out a couple of friends, walk wherever she wants, go past the front windows of our daughters, do stuff that allowed her to live as well. And – yes – we have our routines when she comes home. We have lots of new routines not instructed or dictated. Throughout we have had to find our own way just as we have had to for living together every day – coming up to four decades together soon. Living with shielding? It’s a doddle compared to staying happily married for that many years.

Our life together would send others mad. Send some into dribbles of envy. But copying our way of living is neither recommended nor the rules. We found our own way in a relationship that has faced many different kinds of “stuff”. We all have to do that or we split and go forwards alone. We nearly did. The government has never told us how to live. And if it did we would simply ignore them and carry-on finding our own way.

So not kissing, touching or (trying not to) breathe in the same air for coming up to twelve weeks .. maybe more … maybe much much more than twelve or fourteen or twenty …

(and – let’s be honest here – if we were “told” we could all return to normal today or tomorrow – would we … ?  I wouldn’t)

Mrs Paul and I have had to work all that out just as we have worked out so much stuff we never expected over the years.

Health warning: next bit might be taken as “advice”!!!

But one thing we have learned. Our relationship doesn’t survive because we “get by” – or put things “on hold” – or wait to be told what to do … Our relationship has to THRIVE to survive – has to be JOYFUL to be loving – has to be SUPPORTIVE of each other and without condition to keep us together. And this shielding has tested that. So I “tested” back.

And ended up with The Helmet (The Buzz, The To Infinity and Beyond). Tried cuddling grandchildren then walking grandchildren then being with family and grandchildren then driving because i could and then even shopping just to see if I wanted to. I found “thriving” again (and turned our children into overnight “worried parents”).

Yet our relationship is still THRIVING. Our children are once again RELAXED (grown up) children. And I have just ordered enough filters and prefilters to keep me and The Helmet going for (at least) another six months. We are thriving with shielding NOT surviving because of shielding. And that works for me – and us – and all of us – and for as long as it takes. And thank you for walking through these words with me … Here’s my favourite song (and a few “together but apart” pics). Love you xxx

I’m “off to work” (for as long as that will have me) 😊

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