When Alan Tang (not his real name) went to play football with some friends about three weeks ago, little did he realise how that game would change his life for the next two weeks. One of the guys he'd played with tested positive for Covid-19 and Tang, who works in a property development company, found himself quarantined at home for two weeks.
It was an eye-opening experience for him.
First, he had to deal with guilt: could he be potentially spreading the virus to his family?
Then, it was learning how to pass the time.
“At first, it was like having a break from work, but soon I began to feel restless. I began counting the hours and then the minutes," shared Tang, 48, a father of two.
However, being at home allowed him to spend more time with his wife and children.
“My wife and I talked more than we ever had. We did things together that we otherwise wouldn’t do, such as watching TV and cooking. Our communication improved and we now understand each other better. I didn’t realise how difficult it is being a homemaker," he admitted.
Being cooped up at home, however, could be detrimental to relationships. A local Chinese daily recently reported that in China, there was a spike in divorce cases following the Covid-19 outbreak. The prolonged time married couples were stuck at home on quarantine was said to be a contributing factor.
Registered counsellor Zubaidah Othman says that being quarantined together is not necessarily a bad thing for married couples.
"It all depends on the quality of the couple's relationship," she said. "Some couples who might not get to spend much time together because either one or both of them work outside the home, might actually welcome this opportunity to spend more time with each other. "However, couples who are going through difficulties in their relationship might be anxious just thinking of being confined together. It could stir up a lot of negative emotions and might lead to arguments," she added.
Zubaidah offers some tips on how couples can use their time positively to enhance their marriage.
- Plan your time as a couple to increase bonding
- Find activities to de-stress together – walk around the neighbourhood (but stay away from others), listen to relaxing or music, have movie nights at home, read, draw, paint.
- Learn something new together online – a new language, new recipes (buy the ingredients online for contactless delivery)
- Engage in healthy activities like yoga or zumba at home!
- Respect each other's individual space
- Have some "time-out" each day where you each get to do your own thing
- Plan and divide household chores; don't let only one spouse carry the burden of household chores
- Keep your space clean and conducive for living
- Try your best to look at the positive aspects of your spouse
- Always groom yourself to look your best even though you are at home and practise proper hygiene
- Express yourselves in a positive manner to avoid miscommunications
- Don't blame or pick on each other
- Stay away from verbal attacks
- Don't minimise the importance of your partner's feelings
- Avoid engaging in sensitive issues that could lead to heated arguments