How We’re (Barely) Surviving Marriage In A Pandemic

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How We’re Surviving Marriage In A Pandemic

Marriage is hard.

There, I said it. I mean, we all know it.

If you are married and there has truly never been one moment of your relationship that you have thought, “Hey, you know what? This isn’t all heart eyes, sex, and an endless feeling of contentment," then you're a liar, or I would like to speak with you about the robot husband you ordered and where I could get myself one.

But, marriage is even harder in a pandemic.

When the pandemic began, my husband and I, like every other couple out there following restrictions, began to spend a lot more time just the two of us. It wasn’t that we never spent time together, we did. It was just now it was just him and me. All of the time. No exceptions.

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We also lived in a 600-square-foot apartment.

My husband is much more of a social person than I am. He enjoys spending time with friends and doing things that involve other people about tenfold versus that of which I do. While this isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy spending time with my/our friends, I can always get down for a night spent at home in pajamas. I am easily entertained and I find myself quite enough on days alone.

It also isn’t that my husband needs a lot to be entertained, it's just that the man gets bored easily. He wants to be kept on his toes with a sports game or an activity that he can partake in. If this doesn’t happen, my husband’s alter ego steps forward. That alter ego is lazy, snappy, and is not the man that I married.

In conjunction, it turns out that my alter ego is naggy, frustrating, and a little bit of a hothead.

My husband was hit pretty hard when COVID hit. Staying home and the immensity of the restrictions meant no hockey, no sports in general, and no visits with friends. Essentially, in 2 weeks all of his outlets were swept from under his feet.

All he had left was me.

Our relationship at the time was in a coasting mode. We were over the honeymoon phase, having been together for close to ten years. We had the activities that we did together, and we had the activities that we did apart. We had a good system. We were happy.

The pandemic didn’t change this. It just made it more difficult to begin. Going from spending date nights and portions of evenings and weekends together, to spending almost all of our free time joined at the hip forced us to learn a new system that would work for us.

As you would imagine, we started to fight more, arguing about mundane things. We didn’t have enough space to justify not spending time with one another at all points of the day when we weren’t at work. I am much more of a clingy person than my husband when it comes to the two of us. So when we both happened to be in the apartment at the same time which, in 2020 was, all the time — I figured we may as well be spending it together.

I didn’t really clue into the fact that my husband's outlets had all been taken away from him while my outlets stayed completely intact.

I could still run outside whenever I pleased. I could read as much as I wanted now on the weekend now that our plans were all canceled. I could watch my horrible shows for the 10th time if I felt like it, and I could join a house-party call with my friends when I needed some girl time.

My husband couldn't watch any sports; they were all canceled. He couldn’t visit his friends. His gyms closed, his own hockey games were canceled and all the pubs down the road shut their doors. There was also no way that my husband was jumping on a Skype call when the man hates phone calls, to begin with — no matter how much he missed his friends.

I started to try and push my own hobbies onto my husband when I saw that he was becoming more and more angry, bored, and irritated with the situation. If I could keep myself entertained, why couldn't he?

This created a boundary between us like a line in the sand. We started to bicker more and the tensions became higher. I could tell he was becoming more and more unhappy with the new life we were living. I was constantly at his throat about keeping him entertained, like he was my child, rather than my husband.

What I thought was me being helpful was actually me being a pain in the ass.

It was like being hit in the head when I realized just because we are married, best friends, and live in the same place, doesn’t automatically mean we like the same things.

Going for a walk and listening to books, might not be the type of thing my husband wants to do. He doesn’t want to write goals or go for another run. Maybe he doesn’t want to sit at the beach and read, or bake banana bread.

Am I starting to make myself sound a bit dull? Probably, but you get my point.

When we started to do the things that we both wanted to do and began working as a team rather than me trying to keep the household running as I saw fit, the tensions diminished and we became happier again. I needed to relinquish control and the feeling that it was my responsibility to keep my husband distracted during the pandemic when I could see he was struggling.

In reality, he needed to find his own outlets.

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During the last year, my husband and I have begun to do things that are better for both of us, rather than deciding on things that are good for just one of us. We are also learning to take on tasks that the other doesn’t necessarily love to do, to make the days easier.

For example, I absolutely hate staying up late, or rather, maybe I am just incapable. My husband, on the other hand, hates waking up early. We are complete and utter inverses to one another in this circumstance.

Before, I would nag my husband in the morning and get on at him for being in a bad mood, lazy, or waking up at the absolute last minute. He would ask me to stay up late with him to watch movies and be frustrated when I would decline.

Now, instead of getting on each other's last nerve and trying to improve the other person, AKA me trying to make my husband more like me and vice versa, we help each other out in the areas that we are weaker. We have become more of a working unit.

I wake up early, probably too early for some. I enjoy the mornings and find myself to be the most productive at this time of day. When I wake on days during which my husband works, I make the coffee, I make the lunches and I do all the activities that need to be done before we leave the house.

This has let my husband stay in bed for an extra twenty minutes. I think he appreciates it.

My husband, on the other hand, lets me go to bed early now. He takes care of the dog during her witching hour which always seems to happen past 9 pm. He makes sure that the trash has been taken out, the dishes are done, and that the house is ready for us to go to bed.

He lets me punch out early, so he can punch in late in the morning.

On the weekends and the evenings that we are together, he plays his video games and watches his (thankfully now back) sports games. I get this time to write and work on things that I feel like doing.

We also get to do these things side by side on the couch, which makes me feel close to him.

Before, we were so busy with things outside of work, that we weren't really aware of the things that made one another happy at home. We knew the different hobbies we had and the differing social requirements we needed. But, we weren’t on the same page for the way to run our home together, or spend 48 hours in the same 600 square feet, for example.

Slowing down over the last year with the pandemic has made us speed up the process in which we got to know one another. We are now working together as a unit, rather than me trying to force him into doing things that I thought were good for him and being the soul entertainer of the house.

That isn’t the way that marriage works, or at least our marriage.

I am learning, we are growing and I love him harder every day.

RELATED: Marriage Should Work Like An Apartment Lease: Renew It Each Year

By day (and those dreaded on-call shifts) Sara Becker works in Anesthesia. By night, and with pure happiness, she writes about whatever she feels like brain dumping that day

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.