Love in lockdown: Couples share the impact of Covid restrictions on relationships

Xara Fourie and Mohau Mamafha | Image: Instagram (by Mthawelanga Zakade)

‘Having the family around 24/7 meant no opportunity whatsoever for intimacy.’ If you think lockdown was rough on your relationship, it’s totally normal.

We recently had a chat with a variety of couples to find out what life was like under lockdown and what impact it had on their relationships as well as their work-life balance. 

Tafadzwa* (digital content creator) and Zanele* (videographer) Johannesburg: 

Picture: iStock

Tafadzwa and Zanele are a young, recently married couple from Johannesburg with a young child almost two years old. 

What was it like working from home/ working with each other around? (And having kids around if you have any)

“We have one child, 19 months now and she started walking just after lockdown began and her running around made things busier. Now she runs around, she opens cupboards, she grabs things…”, begins Tafadzwa. 

“However, I don’t think the added element of her being a toddler who has just started walking added any stress, I think we managed it quite well,” he adds. 

Zanele notes he loves working from home. Tafadzwa says this is because he used to do a lot of work as a freelancer prior to filling his current full-time role, so he prefers it. 

What was it like being together 24/7? 

“There have been a few tense moments here and there. Things have gotten a bit tetchy, a bit catty and bickery but I’d like to believe that just comes with the territory of being with someone 24/7,” said Tafadzwa. 

“I didn’t take it as unnatural. When things got a little bit tense, it did give us a chance to discuss things,” added Zanele.  

How did level 4 and 5 affect your sex life, if you don’t mind sharing?

After a lengthy laugh, the couple resolved to give a vague answer about how lockdown itself didn’t ramp up or dampen things. However, they may have had to cool it at some point due to “running out” of contraceptives. This is due to the fact that they are not trying to have any more children. 

What has lockdown taught you about yourself as a partner/parent?

“That I’ve got to take care of myself,” begins Tafadzwa before explaining that he went through what he calls a very heavy depressive spell due to a number of things and his depression lasted well into lockdown. 

“I realised I am a good husband and I’m a good parent only when I feel my best. Not to say I don’t love my family when I don’t feel my best but I’m trying to say my capacity to do so many different things in our family life improves when I am taking good care of myself.” 

What has lockdown taught you about your partner?

Speaking about Zanele, Tafadzwa says; “I learned that she is not a morning person. Don’t speak to her for the first 20 or 30 minutes while she defrosts.” 

They both agree on the fact that seeing each other work also gave them a renewed perspective on each other’s work ethic. 

Xara (senior digital producer) and Mohau (executive content producer), Johannesburg:

Xara Fourie and Mohau Mamafha. Image: Instagram (by Mthawelanga Zakade)

Xara and Mohau are a young couple from Johannesburg who recently began cohabiting after years of dating. 

What was it like working from home/ working with each other around? (And having kids around if you have any)

“We kind of worked around each other, you still went to work but I was in the house the whole time,” she began. This is because Mohau’s job requires him to be in the office in the middle of the day while Xara’s job requires her to be at work in the evenings. 

She added that she never felt as though they got in each other’s way in any way, explaining she worked from home from most of last year so they had already found a way of living that worked for them. 

What was it like being together 24/7? 

“If I ever had to, I’d advise people, with regards to being around each other for lengthy periods of time is that you should be open about your space. So if you feel like being alone, even if there is someone else in the room or the place, just be open about it or you will irritate each other,” said Mohau.  

What has lockdown taught you about yourself as a partner/parent?

“It’s taught me one thing which I think everybody needs, patience,” begins Mohau before jokingly adding: “It has expanded my cooking skills so it has taught me to provide.

“I learned that I like my space and I’ll demand it if I need it and I’ll sacrifice it when I need to include my partner in some of the things I enjoy,” said Mohau.  

They conclude by adding finding balance is key. 

What has lockdown taught you about your partner?

“She’s super needy. I didn’t know until she said it but now I do. She’s also very reliable, resourceful and a bloody hard worker,” he said, as he sang her praises. 

Xara, on the other hand, said that she learned that Mohau watches “unnecessary amounts” of anime but she also learned he’s quite resourceful and she got a re-introduction to his introverted side. 

Additionally, she noticed how affectionate he is and how borderline neurotic he is about things and she learned he will find a way to exercise, even if the world is ending.

Lindi* (content producer) and Terry* (vegan food blogger): 

Lindi and Terry are a young married couple from Johannesburg who have two young daughters. They moved in with her mother during lockdown and have since gone back to living on their own under level 1. 

What was it like working from home/ working with each other around? (And having kids around if you have any)

“The work seemed almost like I could do it whenever.” 

As a result, she soon lost track of time, stopped managing her time well and her work started to pile up. 

“Those lines that you have where you work nine to five were completely erased. I would barely sleep and I became a bit of a zombie to be honest.”

Unlike other interviewees, the couple had no prior experience working from home so making the adjustment was huge for them. 

The couple add they felt embarrassed and ashamed having to turn their small children away when they wanted to spend time with them because Zoom meetings took priority. 

What was it like being together 24/7? 

Lindi doesn’t even hesitate to say she enjoyed having her family around and felt it was one of the blessings that came with the lockdown.  

It wasn’t easy, however, as she shared how she fell into a state of depression due to the various circumstances and uncertainties surrounding lockdown. Lindi adds that she is grateful her husband stepped up to motivate her and help get her out of her funk.  

It was during this time she realised how important it was for her to set up a daily routine getting some exercise in to help lift both their spirits. 

How did level 4 and 5 affect your sex life, if you don’t mind sharing?

Having the family around 24/7 meant no opportunity whatsoever for intimacy. 

What has lockdown taught you about yourself as a partner/parent?

“I realized how much I prioritise my family and how much I want to prioritise my family and family life,” she said, before adding, “I learned that I needed to be a whole lot more organised than I thought I was. It taught me I need structure.”

The “downtime” of lockdown also reminded the couple of a dream they had deferred, to structure their careers in such a way they got to spend more time raising their children while running their own businesses. 

What has lockdown taught you about your partner?

“I learned I have a very short temper and I better developed the ability to observe myself from a mental perspective,” said Lindi. 

“We learned to check up on each other now more than we did back when things were ‘normal’,” added Terry.  

“We’re much better people than we were before. We learned how far we can go when we work together and it sort of snapped us forward into our intended lives we had when we decided to get married.” 

 


*Not their real names 

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