Mary Grech is just one of the millions of Melbournians currently experiencing their sixth state-wide lockdown since the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic.
As a senior mental health clinician, as well as a parent and partner, she understands the added pressures this period has placed on Victorians, including couples who’ve found themselves locked in together.
“It’s times like these that all kinds of relationships can get stuck in a real rut, which can be hard to exit, even when restrictions eventually ease,” she says.
Ms Grech believes that having a set routine, particularly a regular date night, goes a long way towards maintaining both good mental health and relations.
Given the lack of external support available at the moment, there is such an added responsibility for partners to go the extra mile, but it is well worth it in the long run
One of the added stresses that can make managing a relationship during isolation is the inability to go out on normal dinner dates or weekend getaways.
With that sentiment in mind, here are five date ideas to keep the romance not only alive but thriving throughout this latest lockdown period.
1) Backyard picnic
Traditional picnics at the park or beach are currently impossible due to restrictions, but that doesn’t mean the idea has to be abandoned all together.
A backyard picnic or a platter by the pool still allows couples to enjoy the fresh air and sun of the great outdoors, weather permitting of course.
2) Candlelit dinner
Eating in at a restaurant is currently banned, but that doesn’t mean an end to fine dining.
Isolation presents the perfect opportunity for couples to brush up on their culinary skills together, although for novice home cooks a simple dish such as the tried-and-true spaghetti bolognese is highly recommended.
Regardless of the dish, enjoying the meal while accompanied by candlelight and a bottle of wine is sure to spark romance just as well any five-star restaurant could.
3) Fort and movie night
It may seem a little childish, but it’s hard to believe anyone could argue that building a giant fort constructed from pillows and doonas to binge movies in isn’t at least a bit of fun.
Given cinemas, like restaurants, are currently unavailable, breaking out the microwave popcorn and other snacks for any serious movie watching is also a must.
4) Analogue games night
Throughout these lockdown periods, screen time has skyrocketed, with a study at the Saint James School of Medicine finding that increased screen time in young adults has correlated strongly with a heightening of pandemic-related distress.
Having a night with the phones away and the television switched off could be a welcome refresher, as well as an excellent opportunity to dust off the board games for a round of Monopoly or the like.
5) Virtual double dates
Double dates the traditional way aren’t currently possible, although, as Mrs Grech says, there are some suitable workarounds.
“We’re lucky enough to have Zoom and FaceTime available to us, and I think having online catch ups and things like cocktail nights can go a long way to brining a sense of normalcy back.”
Organising a virtual double date with other couples is a great way to keep things fresh and interact with others alongside your partner.