• Mia Brabham

How to Rekindle Love In a Quarantined World

In the span of just one year, my partner of four years and I went from doing two years of long-distance across the country to living in a one-bedroom apartment in Washington D.C. to packing up and moving again to North Carolina. Our relationship has survived two big moves, two career changes, and a pandemic...how?

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching (and in the oddest and devastating set of years yet) I want to talk about — you guessed it — love. Except I want to talk about the real side of it. The ugly side of it. The beautiful, deeper side of it that can emerge from a dark time if you both let it.

Here are some things I learned about myself and my relationship during quarantine and isolation, and how we both grew from it individually and together for the better.

Spend intentional time together

My partner and I met at work and grew a foundation as friends before we unexpectedly started our relationship. I remember telling him early on, “I never get tired of spending time with you," and I still don’t, which I’ve (funny enough) figured out is a problem, too.

Working in the same room, going on walks together, and eating every meal together is a lot. We’re both pretty independent people, but quarantine put us in the trap of thinking that just because we’re in the same house, we had to have the same. exact. schedule. Before we all fell victim to the pandemic, most working professionals were used to going into an office or workspace and spending at least eight hours of the day apart from one another.

Truly, it’s abnormal to spend so much time in the presence of someone else, even someone you love! I’ve learned the hard way that you have to spend time apart so you can spend real, intentional time together. Now the quality of our conversations when we come together at the end of the day is richer and our time together feels so much more special!

Cut the ego and say what you need!

I tend to get upset when I have to explain what I want or need in a situation because in my head it takes away from the “soulmate” feeling of my partner just knowing what I need (and after four years!!!). Well ladies, gents, and non-binary peoples, my mom informed me that that does not go away, no matter how long you are together.

Go figure.

Clearly, I’m stressed and I want you to make dinner tonight.

Clearly, I need a hug.

Well one day, it hit me like a ton of bricks. What is worse: not getting what you want or need or the fact that you had to say it? Our egos are not our friends.

Strengthen that communication muscle, baby! When you start saying what you need, your partner will start catching onto trends.

Preventive care is not just for our bodies

Relationships are like cars, right? The more strain you put on them, the more maintenance they need. But if you take the right precautions and prepare ahead of time, hopefully, you won’t have a busted tired or engine problem on that long road trip ahead.

As a person who values my independence, my career, and my friendships, I struggle with the fear and idea of giving up too much in a relationship as a woman. So when I found out we were moving to North Carolina with less than one week’s notice after my partner got off of the waitlist and into business school, I panicked. He wanted me to come and I wanted to go, but I was terrified I would resent him for it.

I immediately hopped into action and told my partner I wanted to go to couples coaching. He was totally into it and was as enthusiastic about it as I was with no hesitation. Not only did it help us with the situation at hand, but it grew us as a couple entirely. We talked through our future when we feel most loved, positive and negative emotional patterns, and other things we still use to this day.

Being proactive versus reactive during a big life change (and in general) is key.

Don’t be afraid to question everything

As a writer, I’m an inherently reflective person. But being inside for this long has made me question every single aspect of my life — and that doesn’t exclude my relationship. But that is okay.

Revisiting what you want in a life partner allows you to revisit your desires and needs with them.

Remembering why you fell in love with them reignites passion and excitement, and deepens your love when you think about how far you’ve come.

Questioning your future with them is actually perfect because it allows you to recalibrate and plan where you’re going — individually and together.

Even if the answers aren’t so great, that’s okay too. After you process alone, make sure you have a soft place to land — whether that’s a support system at home, good friends, or therapy. Just remember that these times are not normal. We can make it through this and come out on the other side, all in the name of love.

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