The Pukka’s six golden rules to living happily together in lockdown

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  • Who else used to moan they never saw enough of their loved ones? LOL. Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson reveal their tips for couples in isolation

    Well, if anything can break a relationship, being cooped up 24/7 is a good place to start. So how are we doing out there?

    According to latest reports, couples who have relationships fraying under the pressures of self-isolation could be heading for a ‘covidivorce.’ You only have to look at China, where hundreds of millions went into isolation to see what’s happened: the number of divorce applications surged last month according to registry offices across the country.

    In fact, a We-Vibe survey of 1,200 people in the UK and Europe found that 78% predict that the number of separations and divorces will increase due to the coronavirus crisis because our enforced new living arrangements are pushing couples to the brink.

    Anna Whitehouse and her husband Matt who have been married ten years, admit that writing their bestselling book Where’s My Happy Ending? definitely made them confront the state of their relationship head on.

    Anna says:  ‘We set out to show how we’re trying to keep the magic alive (and by magic, we mean not throttling each other) during self-isolation. These are the times that can make or break couples, so we hope our top tips on sustaining a relationship during quarantine will help you too’.

    Anna’s survival hacks

    Tag team
    You can’t have everyone trying to do everything at once. Homeschooling while working remotely while making toast into the shape of a carrot and trying to not eat everything in the fridge isn’t a working formula. You need to schedule time off – for us it’s an hour a day – for each person so you don’t go off the walls in your four walls.

    Lady of leisurewear 
    My wardrobe has edged towards unhinged – think thermals with a Totes Toastie sock and polka dot headscarf. Comfort is king and while working in The Outside World made me slightly more presentable, my partner is about to be bombarded by my elasticated best. It goes for him too – he’s currently in a hoodie from the last millennium. We’ve decided to dress like our former selves once a week and have dinner together that evening to save turning into an advert for a retirement home.

    Love is all around
    The ability to use outside events – other than the relentlessly depressing news – to stimulate conversation has gone. It’s just us, our mild disillusionment with each other and a Groundhog Day existence. Recognise that a cheeky bum squeeze by the recycling bin is the equivalent of date night and things start to look up.

    Meet the Pukkas

    And over to Matt…

    Listen to hippies

    During research for our the book, I spent a few days interviewing people in a free-love commune in Portugal. They had some unusual ideas, but one nugget of inspiration struck me. It came from a 54-year-old physicist who said when you’re angry with your partner, don’t ask, ‘What do I need from them?’ but ask instead, ‘What does love need now?’ It sounds camembert cheesy, like a philosophy to stitch on a cushion, but it means stopping to think about what’s best for your relationship. Usually, that just means being a bit less of a dick about who last did the washing up.

     Avoid each other

    No one is nice enough to spend all day with. Whether you’re a couple on your own, or a family with kids everywhere, chances are your partner will become a bit annoying after a while. Cherish personal time, even if that’s just playing Angry Birds on the loo, and give it to your partner too. Let them read, or watch a film you hate, or hum tunelessly in the bath – whatever they want to do – without any guilt, and ask them to allow you to do the same.

    Eat like a don

    There’s a scene in Goodfellas where Henry Hill, the lead character, explains that ‘in prison, dinner was always a big thing’. One of his compadres would slice garlic paperthin with a razor, so it would liquify in the pan. Food boosts morale and shows you care, so given that you are effectively in prison (albeit, hopefully, a nice open one), take a don’s approach to dining: whatever stash you’re eking out, take the time to make it as good as it can be.

    * Anna and Matt’s Where’s My Happy Ending? Happily ever after and how the heck to get there is out now 

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