For most if not all couples living together during lockdown, the pandemic has had one common side effect: arguing, lots and lots of arguing.
Being forced to spend every waking second with someone isn’t ideal, and even couples with “perfect” relationships (if there is such a thing) are feeling the strain of spending an unnatural amount of time together.
You wake up and they’re right there. You start cooking but they’ve already used the ingredients. You make yourself a coffee and they want one too. You go for a shower and they come in to use the loo. You want some peace and quiet and they decide to play music or have a Zoom call with no headphones. You go to the sink and their dirty dishes are still there and flies are circling. Every single thing they do is annoying (until once every three days they decide to do something nice).
So yeah, there’s infinite things to argue about during lockdown: in fact, bickering is probably the new smoking.
If you’re going through this right now, or are single and want a reason to feel superior, here are some of the most common arguments that couples are having right now.
“Can you just do the dishes?”
It’s the big one: the blockbuster, the showpiece (but also the most boring) of lockdown arguments. Couples who are lucky enough to live in a house with a dishwasher are massively privileged in this area (although we suppose the dishwasher still needs to be loaded and unloaded, and some people are weirdos who rinse the dishes beforehand).
One person peers into the pile of dishes and starts indignantly pointing at all the ones that aren’t theirs, or are from the nice meal they cooked for both of you (so they don’t have to wash up). Then the chaos begins until one side gives in and begins washing the dishes at a passive aggressively loud volume.
The argument continues to happen because this makes the person who was accused of not pulling their weight much more likely to call out their partner for their sanctimonious washing up pedantry when they inevitably let their game slip. And so the process repeats, every day, FOREVER.
“You never go to the shop!”
This argument grows from the same tree as the “washing up” fight, and occurs with similar regularity because as soon as food and supplies are used they have to be replaced. At its core, this is about one person feeling like the other is not contributing to the basics as much as the other. Right now this argument is particularly intense because, you know, going to the shop is practically risking your life.
At its worst, this can be used as some metaphor for the relationship as a whole, which is obviously ridiculous given the current circumstances. Besides, different jobs have different patterns of hours which might allow one person to visit the shops more often.
This often ends with one person begrudgingly going to the shop, which turns out to be coincidentally “sold out” of what their partner really wanted…
“Can’t you just put headphones on?”
Spending 24 hours a day with someone really is not natural, no matter how much you liked or fancied them before lockdown. It’s the perfect environment to realise every bad habit your partner has, which seems to occur all the time because there’s nothing else to focus on. Truly, the ‘Cell Block Tango’ from Chicago has never been more relatable.
One person not wearing headphones to listen to music, watch a Netflix show or have a work conference call in the communal space is a common bicker. On a broader level, it speaks to one person feeling like the other isn’t acknowledging that the home is a shared living space, not their office, no matter how it might feel right now.
“You always pick what we watch”
Watching TV and films is how lots of people are spending their evenings these days. And deciding what to watch is a good old relationship power struggle, particularly if one person wants to watch Too Hot to Handle on Netflix and the other wants to watch The Revenant.
Some couples are dealing with this by having alternate nights where each person gets to pick what’s on the screen… which sounds like hell.
“Do you HAVE to eat/sleep/breathe that loudly?”
It’s very unlikely that any of us have developed a new wildly irritating way of going about performing basic staying-alive functions since lockdown, yet OH MY GOD how did we never notice how annoying it was in all the years we’ve lived together?!
This is the absolute mother of all lockdown fights: irrational, nonsensical, hurtfully personal and completely counterproductive, yet there is something so selfishly cathartic about lashing out in frustration at someone for something they literally cannot control.
-Adapted from an article by Sirena Bergman and Louis Staples for Independent