TV presenter Scarlett Moffatt had only been living with her policeman boyfriend, Scott Dobinson, for six months when lockdown happened. Luckily the pair are still very much in love, despite the extra strain lockdown is putting on most relationships.
Speaking to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time, Scarlett revealed her top relationship tip for avoiding squabbles.
“I read somewhere – and it actually really works – that if you're annoyed, you blame it on an imaginary housemate,” she laughed.
“We've got a woman called Carol. She just keeps leaving the toilet seat up. She's leaving messy cups about. So, we just blame Carol.”
Crazy as it sounds, the pair have not yet argued since lockdown began. Although that Carol is being a real nightmare.
Dating and relationship expert Sarah Louise Ryan says having an imaginary housemate can actually help with communicating during these tough times.
“Having a third non-existent party on which they blame things – including the mess – helps them communicate clearly what is throwing them out of their comfort zones without placing blame,” she says. “It still maintains the playfulness that new romantic partnerships tend to have.”
She continues: “It’s a clever and creative way to negotiate a high-pressured situation for their new romance, whilst still maintaining the peace to enjoy the courtship.”
While any relationship during lockdown is likely to be tested, there can be huge pressure on new relationships like Scarlett’s, when boundaries and values are still being explored – and now tested.
To keep your relationship in a happy place, Sarah believes there are five elements of lockdown life together that you need to concentrate on.
She says creating a daily routine, exercising (especially with your partner), maintaining communication, finding time to connect and laughing will all help keep your relationship happy and healthy.
“It’s really important to note that this time doesn’t have to be trying,” Sarah says.
“It can be a time of reconnection with oneself and one's partner. Call it ‘taking stock’ rather than self-isolation, so you can really see where you’re at and where you would like to be.
“You can then strategise how to switch up what isn’t working for you and hit the ground running when we all come out from the sanctuary of our homes.”
Here are Sarah’s other tips for keeping the romance alive during these difficult times:
Keep routine for your work, yourself and for your relationship: See them all as separate and make sure they all get the attention they deserve in equal measure.
See this time as an opportunity to have a real connection: There isn’t any distraction in the way of nice restaurants, trips or bars – there’s just meaningful conversation, your most authentic self and time, so use it wisely to ensure you’re both invested in your relationship and a good fit for each other.
Enjoy the courtship: This is a time in our lives that we might not ever have again for ourselves and we may not have again in our lifetime. We keep ourselves so busy usually that we don’t get to fully enjoy being in the throws of something new, now it the time to enjoy loving and being loved.
Hear Scarlett talk more about her relationship, what she’s missing during lockdown and how an African tribe helped her love herself that bit more in the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.