North Coast couples tell us the secret to surviving – and thriving – in isolation

By now you’ve seen those memes floating around the internet succinctly capturing just how maddening it can be to spend 24/7 at home with your significant other. They chew too loudly, breathe too deeply, leave half-full glasses of water in every room and stack dirty plates in the sink, centimetres from an empty dishwasher. It’s easy to laugh and assume most partnerships are hanging on by a thread right now. But is that really the case? These north coast couples have discovered the secret to surviving – and thriving – in isolation.

Coastbeat: What’s it like having your husband or wife at home with you all day? Are you struggling? Come on, be honest! 

Taryn and Michiel, Alstonville 

Michiel: I love being home with Taryn! We both work for our engineering consulting firm and I recently started working from a home office. It’s just so nice to be able to walk up to the house, say hi, give Taryn a hug or a kiss and then get back to my emails.

Lydia and Kent, Byron Bay 

Kent: Lydia works in Lismore three to four days a week and I’m a musician who plays gigs on Fridays and weekends so we both generally have a bit of downtime on our own. In the current circumstance, we’re at home full time. Isolation definitely puts a magnifying glass on whatever version of your relationship was already there so in our case it just feels extra wonderful. 

Lydia and Kent quite enjoy the times of isolation.
Lydia and Kent enjoying their downtime together, image by Agi Davis

Coastbeat: Surely you’ve had some arguments! What’s the silliest thing you’ve fought about?

Kent: I think we tend to communicate before it gets to the point of arguing. We try to share personal frustrations before projecting them onto the other person. 

Beth and Kim, Lennox Head 

Beth: It’s funny, I would have expected us to fight more but being together in our little family love bubble has made us fight less. I think it’s because we’re all now on the exact same page.

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Annaliese and Santi, Ballina

Annaliese: Creative differences! Santi and I had talked for several months about creating a podcast and the current situation really forced our hand. We now have disagreements about what to say on “A Luna Kind of Life” (Luna is the couple’s surname)! We have a clear vision for what we want the podcast to achieve, but we’re figuring out how to make that a reality.

Taryn: We argue over who gets to go out and buy essentials! We quickly realised how ridiculous it sounded but it helped us appreciate that space, no matter what form, was important to us. 

North Coast couples tell us the secret to surviving – and thriving – in isolation
Beth Tyson in Lennox Head, image by Elize Strydom

Coastbeat: Speaking of space, what do you do to banish cabin fever?

Kim: We get out of the house and go for a bike ride or walk at least once a day. We make delicious meals that we’ve never made before, play the piano and guitar, sing, do online drawing tutorials with the kids. There’s so much time to try new things and I’m loving that side of it.

Santi: We go for family walks and most evenings we watch the sunset or stargaze. It helps to give perspective and remind us of the beauty and hope that is present in our everyday lives.

Taryn: We take our crazy puppy for runs/walks or go on bike rides. At night after we’ve put our daughter Vienna to bed, Michiel and I have been sitting in the backyard under the stars having some time to ourselves which has been really special.

Michiel: I’ve found that doing a solid PT session or giving my boxing bag a pounding really helps me refocus and put all of my work stuff aside.

Kent: I’ve been doing some woodwork and we’ve been gardening together. There are definitely times you need to recognise that doing something alone would be more beneficial than doing something together. It becomes very important to understand what your own needs are but we’re comfortable sharing what’s important for each of us.    

Life in isolation doesn't mean being inside the house 24/7.
Lydia and Kent soaking up some afternoon sun in their garden, image by Agi Davis

Coastbeat: I’m starting to think all of these internet memes are made up! It sounds like you’d all prefer life to stay this way. 

Beth: I’m loving this bubble! I think because we have young kids, we know that it’s a unique opportunity to really soak them up while they’re still little. 

Annaliese: I’m an introvert and homebody at heart so I’m actually loving it most of the time. I’m quite shocked at how busy I am though without really leaving the house!

Kent: We actually like being in one another’s company! Work-wise, it has certainly been a creative time for me. My brain has been going nuts with ideas! 

Michiel: Being forced to stay home, with Vienna here as well, I’m pleasantly surprised how well we get along (most of the time!) and how much more I appreciate my wife and daughter. I’m realising how much they both mean to me.

Taryn: At first the thought of ‘losing’ the freedom to do as we pleased seemed daunting but being safe at home has actually been a blessing. Slowing down and not rushing from job to job or having multiple nights out has made us appreciate each other one and our health again.

A candid moment of Lydia and Kent in conversation during their isolation.
A candid moment of Lydia and Kent in conversation, image by Agi Davis

If you’re struggling to see the silver linings, read our practical tips on how to keep your mental health in check here.