Sage: Humorous tips for couples
on coexisting peacefully at home
I have endured six weeks of sheltering in place with my husband, and never in our 48 years have we lived in such claustrophobic proximity. It is driving me bonkers. I’m tired of his grousing, sighs of boredom, and the tension that seems to emanate from every cell of this creature’s body. If the state of Colorado allowed me to head for the hills, I’d climb the highest peak and do yoga by myself, loving the solitude and communing with the wind. In the interim, I could use some help. No, make that HELLLLPPPPP!!!!! How can we avoid getting on each other’s nerves constantly?
– Rocky in Colorado
The most effective method of avoiding conflict is for both of you to insert earplugs into both ears, cover with industrial-strength earmuffs, place plumber’s tape firmly over your mouth, and tie a blindfold over your eyes. Follow new international social distancing guidelines by staying at least six rooms apart at all times, 24 hours a day, until your state safely reopens and you can flee at the speed of light.
Short of that, the Sage humbly offers these possible options:
• Spend your time productively and take your focus off your husband’s annoying habits. Perhaps a self-improvement project? For example, you can learn swear words in twenty languages! Wander around the house muttering with abandon! Science tells us that swearing will reduce stress, activate mood-elevating chemicals in the body and afford us a sense of wellbeing. If your lesser half asks what the hell you’re doing, tell him you’re learning how to say, ‘Gee, I wish this quarantine would last forever, dear!’ – in Norwegian and Scottish Gaelic.
• Vary your cuisine. Try interesting dishes that you’ve always wanted to experiment with. How about serving an eye-popping, knee-wobbling, giant platter of Extra Spicy Red-Hot Chili Tamales? He will appreciate your gourmet cooking on his behalf, and this will buy you an abundance of ‘me’ time as he scarfs up the food and then locks himself in the bathroom for two or three days.
• Encourage Hubby to learn new hobbies. For instance, you can urge him to educate himself in the art of camping, something you’ve just been just itching to try for forty-eight years. Order a little tent from Amazon and give your guy plenty of opportunity to cultivate a culture of self-reliance by sleeping on the ground in the backyard and cooking hot dogs and beans after rubbing two sticks together. Once he has qualified for each of a series of merit badges, feel free to allow a brief indoor bathroom break.
• Learn new hobbies yourself. For instance, you can brush up on your computer skills by familiarizing yourself with an Internet meeting site, such as Zoom. Enjoy long, long afternoon happy hours with your best friends every day! Exchange particularly effective nasty comments that have gotten your husbands to stay out of your way, such as, ‘If you don’t stop whining, I’m going to hire a bulldozer and bury your entire collection of Simpsons figures and Blinky Bumblebee Fishing Lures. Got that?’ On the more positive side, you could hire an exercise guru to lead an intensive two-hour calisthenics regimen and force your husbands to participate until they collapse and fall asleep for four days.
• Treat yourself to a few extravagances. Order the best in toiletries, including fifty-dollar bars of French soap, and luxuriate in long baths while listening to soft classical music. While doing this, send Hubby out to the car, in the garage, to savor a seven-course meal. Courses can be as creative as you’d like – or as simple. Sample menu: a banana, a granola bar, a strawberry Pop-Tart, a peanut butter sandwich, a bag of Cheetos, a can of Spam and some Tabasco brownies in a paper bag. You can also lock the doors until you have left the tub after your twenty-fifth bath. If this takes multiple days, he always has the tent.
• If you two are good at playing games together, try some exhilarating new ones. How about ‘Drunk, Stoned or Stupid,’ available from Amazon? Or the card game ‘Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition.’ Or perhaps a relaxing video game, like ‘Splatterhouse?’ All will have a relaxing, calming effect on both of you.
• Fantasize and visualize. Think about your most serene happy place. This could be a trail in the woods, a beach along the ocean, or a lakeside cabin. Picture yourself there – it will likely reduce your stress and anxiety levels and even lower your blood pressure. You can also take virtual tours of many such places over the Internet. On days when Hubby is driving you particularly nuts, you might try a virtual tour of Scotland Yard’s Crime Museum. View an assortment of murder weapons disguised as umbrellas, swords that look like walking sticks, and a collection of hangman’s nooses. Just imagine … visualize … well, OK, maybe not.
• Finally, learn to co-exist quietly and without arguing. Agree that you are a team and will get through this together, that your relationship is the most important thing to preserve. You can, for example, extol the virtues of silence together. Tune in to a webcam and join in the contemplative life of a cloistered nun. See how many days you two can go before one of you cries ‘uncle.’
Wishing you good health and sanity, and plenty of wine,