Nia Williams founded relationship coaching service Miss Date Doctor (M.D.D) in 2016, aiming to provide modern support for modern love and relationships. The platform has coaches and counsellors for any relationship issue, delivering more help than most contemporary relationship agencies, as M.D.D enforces the importance of any issue, big or small, to a relationship or individual. With over 100 packages and lots of happy customers, it’s clear that M.D.D’s director knows her stuff. We’ve asked her some questions to help you with your love life for those of you spending December in Tier 3 Isolation.
We understand that being isolated with your partner might be a topic you’re worrying about, and you wouldn’t be alone: this might be one of the toughest times for relationships, but also one of the most exciting- it’s not often you’ll have this much time to spend together.
Nia is here to help you survive such challenging times and to help see this time through.
What’s your most important piece of advice for couples isolating together for the first time?
“This will feel quite stressful for couples, the emotional stress due to the unpredictability of the future and also financial impact can make individuals irritable and needing their partner’s support more. Due to this the most important thing to do is be patient with each other and understand these are unprecedented circumstances, give your partner space when needed, work in separate rooms and give emotional support if your partner is feeling anxious or stressed about the future – giving assurance you will get through this strenuous period together.”
Establishment can be an important part of communication in relationships: being open and declarative about things we need, want or have can be vital to avoid unnecessary arguments and keep couples from clashing. What do you think needs to be established in the relationship?
“Couples living together need to establish the following:
1. Working hours when quiet time and private time is needed.
2. Establish how you will sustain food supplies i.e grocery stores or food delivery service.
3. Personal boundaries for each individual i.e house rules to avoid conflict.
4. Write up a chores list that can be divided between the two of you.
5. Organise an ‘at home date night’ once a week i.e Netflix, couples games, romantic candlelit dinners etc.”
Having one space to live and work in can make anyone feel confined and claustrophobic, let alone when there’s more than one person doing it in the same place. Sometimes physical distance and boundaries are the best way to establish a sense of independence and focus, having different spaces for different daily routines and having different spaces for individuals can provide the compartmentalisation that’s needed when you’re isolating. With these house rules, personal boundaries and establishments in mind, are there any physical boundaries that you think should be set for couples in terms of working and living and isolating in one shared space?
“Yes, this is very important if physical boundaries are not respected this can lead to terrible arguments and significant upset. The following rules are imperative:
– Do not talk to me during working hours if I am working from home unless I engage with you or you just want to tell me something briefly.
– Do allow me to have private time to myself sometimes, despite us living under the same roof.
– Please respect your partner’s living rules to avoid arguments over chores and keeping the living space tidy.
– Respect that you are two different individuals but your different living styles have to integrate together successfully to avoid disagreements.”
People might be afraid to confront their partner with these ideas of distance and independence, what’s the best way to ask for some alone time without offending your partner? “Let your partner know you need some space and once you are finished you will join them.”
And how do you suggest we find some independence beyond the physical boundaries you’ve suggested? “Do not be too codependent on your partner; codependency ruins relationships. It is important that even though you are living together you do your own thing and embark on your own daily tasks and chores without constantly disturbing your partner.”
Even with these boundaries and independence, we understand when you’re stuck in the house with someone for a long time, arguments are almost inevitable. What do you think is the best way to diffuse an argument, or prevent one when tensions are high?“To avoid arguments listen to each other and show cognitive empathy towards your partner enabling you to see things from your partner’s perspective as well as your own. In the case of diffusing an argument concede if you are wrong, then apologise and do not raise your voice when speaking to your partner also always be aware of your tone.”
In isolation, every day can feel the same as we get into a routine that doesn’t change and can’t change, and with repetition comes boredom, which is sometimes the cause of these high tensions. How do you suggest couples can keep spontaneity and romance while stuck at home?
“Agree to quality time, no phones, no zoom, just the two of you. Try to create romantic fluidity by having intimacy and romance sporadically throughout the lockdown period. Understanding each other’s languages helps a lot in this situation knowing what your partner wants and needs is imperative. Play couples games i.e. a date night box, staycation setup or create an environment ideal for a romantic staycation. It is important to remember during lockdown give each other adequate space so that it doesn’t kill the romance.”
Games and staycations can be a brilliant way to spark romance and stop this period from feeling like an unrelenting Groundhog day, but on top of the boredom and impatience surrounding this pandemic, there is a lot of anxiety about the virus and families and these unprecedented times as a whole. One of M.D.D’s many counselling services regards mental health in the context of relationships, and the company is a key advocate for mental health, supporting and promoting Prince Harry’s Heads Together initiative. How should we comfort our partners if they’re feeling worried and how should we ask for comfort if we’re anxious in these times?
“Anxiety during this period is understandable. The unpredictability of this period is overwhelming, to say the least. It is important to communicate your feelings with your partner and be patient and supportive. Finances and jobs are a sensitive area at this time, create an environment that lets your partner feel comfortable at this time. Let your partner know your worries and fears and how this may be affecting your present behaviour. It is important to recognise your partner may be under strain at present which may result in some negative behaviour or possibly mood swings – do not take this personally.”
Although we are all facing a lot of uncertainty right now and all the elements of our lives have been changed by this pandemic, there is optimism and positivity to take away from it all. What message should couples keep in mind during this unprecedented period?
“The pandemic has been a strenuous period for us all but adversity is inevitable in life. There will be ups and downs and with patience, good communication, teamwork and resilience couples can get through this together. True love is shown by its unwavering strength through the tough times.”
As Nia says so well: “True love is shown by its unwavering strength through the tough times.”
Interview by Daisy Grace Greetham