Missing out on milestones or celebrations is one very difficult aspect of being in quarantine. As humans we depend on these events to pass time in a meaningful way and to break up routine. We will miss many special events during this time of physical isolation. If your anniversary falls during quarantine, I believe it is still important to celebrate in a way that recognizes the anniversary. You can always also celebrate later on when it is safe to be in public again. We tend to get caught up in the “events” versus the “meaning” of the events or what we are celebrating. Being stuck at home together and unable to go out could actually enhance a couple’s ability to capitalize on the meaning behind their anniversary.
I am a fan of the “home date” and have recommended this to couples who have barriers to spending time together such as lack of childcare or financial constraints well before quarantine. A “home date” is one where the couple tries to recreate a nice date at home. When children are in the picture, this occurs after children are in bed or between wake ups. Of course, this will not “be the same” or “as good” in terms of elegance, but what you sacrifice in fun and excitement you will gain in intimacy, closeness, and quality time together. The reality is that a lot of activities we do outside of our homes bring joy and fun but might actually interrupt good conversation and closeness. For example, when we go see a movie together we cannot actually talk to one another or our favorite restaurant might be so loud or busy that we have a hard time chatting.
Some tips for creating the perfect date at home:
- Set the environment: It won’t feel like a date if you are surrounded in your clutter or tempted to fold laundry. Retreat to your room or somewhere you can make nice to prepare for the date. Consider using candles, music, flowers, incense, etc.
- Pick an activity you used to love doing together when you were younger or had less in terms of financial means: Maybe you loved putting together jigsaw puzzles or playing cribbage. Sounds nerdy, but card games and other games tend to bring about a lot of giggles and silliness. Maybe you loved taking long walks in the park; The equivalent now might be doing laps around your block (children dependent) or maybe sitting outside in your backyard or on your balcony and looking for stars. If you used to love to go camping and you have a yard, set up your tent in your yard! Or have a fire in your firepit out back. If you loved going to shows, concerts, the opera, etc., then put on some music and dance or let yourselves fall into the music together.
- Don’t skimp on papering or honoring yourselves: While you will likely have to skimp in fun or excitement, you still get to treat yourselves and enjoy those “special” things that come with a date. Order food from your favorite restaurant (many are delivering their signature cocktails!). Consider using disposable set ups (Sorry environment) so you can still take the night off of doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. Make it fancy! Dress up if that feels special to you.
- Share what you mean to one another: To really engage with the meaning of the event, you can focus the date on reflecting on your time together or celebrating your accomplishment of years together. Re-watch your wedding video or look at old photos. Write letters to one another about your appreciation for the other. You could read them or simply exchange them. Review a beautiful or meaningful part of your wedding ceremony. For example, you could pick out one of the traditions or readings that occurred and read them or speak them together again.
- Keep screens off: Screen activities do not usually enhance closeness or aid in good conversation and connection. It is also important to put down phones and devices to be fully present with your partner.
One of the many things to grieve during this difficult time is losing out on events that are special to us. As humans, celebrating milestones are important. It can be so painful to face these things we looked forward to now in the veil of isolation. It is still important to honor one another and celebrate your milestone together. Letting the meaning of the event guide you can help to create the perfect way to celebrate at home.