So… married life in lockdown! It’s been a couple of months I think – in all honesty I’ve lost track of the days let alone weeks during this COVID-19 pandemic. All I know is that this crisis has thrown our lives into something that is completely different to anything we’ve ever known. Each day we are reminded to Stay Home, Save Lives, Protect the NHS and rightly so! But in all of this, where does that leave your marriage?
The majority of couples have gone from spending a matter of hours together if that, to being confined in the same space for weeks on end. If you thought you had problems before, then this is definitely the time for those issues to intensify. Before all of this, you had a choice not to be at home, and you had the freedom to go where you pleased and do whatever your heart desired with who you wanted, even if those actions were causing further damage to your marriage. But when you have your differences now, there’s nowhere to hide, and that can push any marriage to breaking point.
You may be in a position where you are questioning what your marriage will look like when lockdown ends, or maybe you feel like this period has made you question whether you can even stay married to this person. Whatever your reality looks like now, you need to pay close attention to the way that you are feeling because there may be issues that need to be addressed. If this is the case, it’s likely to be a long-term issue that has been agitated by the fact that you are “stuck” together, but if there’s ever a time to try and deal with those thorns in your marriage it is now.
In my marriage we are both working through challenges of our own, but I can say that this pandemic has strengthened my feelings of gratitude. Here are just some of the ways:
A comfortable place to live
My little family is currently living with my in-laws, and before this hit we were definitely feeling the strain of not having our own space and understandably so! We still feel it now – sometimes even more intensely as we’re all quarantined under one roof, but the moments of gratitude easily outweigh those difficult days. We appreciate having enough space in the house that we aren’t stuck on top of each other, and the fact that we have a garden to enjoy the sunshine while we can’t go out as normal. Not long after lockdown happened, I saw a story on the news about a family of four who lived in a one-bedroom flat at the very top of a block. When I tell you they couldn’t wait to get out of the house for that daily hour of exercise with their young kids… I can’t help but count my blessings.
So many jobs have been up in the air during this pandemic, and I have to give thanks for the fact that both myself and Liam have still been working throughout from the safety of our homes. We haven’t had to deal with the uncertainty and concern of losing an income. There are couples I know with children who rely on a single income, but have now had to rely on the government and find alternative means after being sent home without pay. I won’t lie, there are times where I think it would be nice to have work-free time on my hands to do whatever I pleased (within reason as you only have so much free time as a parent!) but the grass really can sometimes look greener. I’m thankful for the ability to work part-time, and to work without needing to compromise on being a mum to my young daughter. It definitely helps to maintain a sense of normality and routine in all of this.
Becoming a parent will limit your time as rewarding as the experience may be! Many parents have children of school age, and they are juggling their jobs while now also taking on the role of teacher as well as being mum/dad. It’s a lot for even the most organised of people to manage! Our daughter Inaya is 15-months at the time of writing this, and she still has a significant period where she naps in the day as well as sleeping through the night. When she is awake, we do what we can to keep her busy, but she is at the age where she is easily pleased and will happily occupy herself at times discovering new things and tearing the pages out of mummy’s work notebook… Liam loves the fact that he has been able to spend so much more time and see Inaya throughout the day too. Of course looking after her takes work, but it isn’t stressful. If anything she is our stress-reliever – keeping us smiling and filling our home with so much joy. We can’t help but give thanks.
Even when things may feel especially challenging, I’m thankful that I’m in lockdown with my husband. Some couples have decided to have quarantine weddings, which will definitely make for a memorable story in the years to come! I had what now seems to be a luxury of getting married in complete freedom, and having my husband by my side every day is something I often take for granted. During lockdown we’ve made a point to try and be more intentional about sharing our feelings, and to express our appreciation for the time that we get to spend together now – especially as a family. This experience has been, dare I say it, enjoyable! The introvert in me is in her element, and even Liam who is more extroverted said he will miss the time we’ve been able to spend together when lockdown is over.
There are many reasons to be grateful in quarantine, if only you stop to recognise them. I call them “quarantine joys”. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that life is short and health is a blessing. Just the fact that I have my family around me and my health for today is enough for me to stop and notice.
Because we are now dealing with so many restrictions to what was normal life before, there are far more opportunities to notice the little things now. Like the way the birds sing while you are sitting out in the garden, or the joy of bringing home your food shopping. (Okay that has always been a joy for me as I love food, but you get my point!)
I’ll leave you with this – remember that both you and your spouse are human. What we are currently experiencing is a crisis, and many people have sadly lost their lives. It is okay to feel overwhelmed or anxious. It is okay to wake up without the motivation to work from home. It is okay to feel like you need to take a moment before speaking to your spouse. It is okay to let your kids have some time away from their school books without feeling like a failure, as they are trying to manage their own emotions and feelings in all of this too. All you can do is try, but even Wonder Woman would need to have a lie down if she was managing the demands of the reality many families are now facing.
Just by the fact that you are waking up with the intention to look after yourself and your family, you are doing just fine as even that can be a challenge. Try your best to be kind and patient with yourself and your spouse through this lockdown period, and hopefully this experience will turn out to shape your marriage for the better.
What are your quarantine joys?
Take some time out with your spouse to share 3 things each that you are grateful for despite the pandemic restrictions. Discuss what you hope your marriage will look like after lockdown, and how you can both start or continue to make an intentional effort to make that a reality.
Be honest if you feel that you have reached breaking point. Sometimes the truth can be hard to hear, but it is always appreciated in the end. This will also give you both a chance to attempt to work through those deeper issues for the sake of your marriage, but the key is that you both need to be willing. Take care and look after yourselves!