Nearly six years ago I married the man of my dreams. I had so much nervous energy I feared I would fall over so he held my hand through most of the ceremony my dad officiated. We said “I will” to all the usuals - to love and like each other in sickness and in health and through all the twists and turns of life. Funny thing, Dad never mentioned a pandemic but here we are, living history and on day 30-something of sheltering in place in sunny Tennessee with two kids under four. Some days are comprised of sunshine and lollipops and me savoring every second of the uninterrupted family time we finally have. Other days are filled with tears and arguments and a countdown until I can take a shower to be alone for ten minutes.
Sure, I said yes to have and to hold but who knew that later would include weeks of being together 24/7 under less than calm circumstances with no end in sight. This weird, scary COVID quarantine has tested our relationship in every way possible, case in point yesterday. My husband, a clinical mental health therapist, was attempting to counsel virtually in his office while our three-year-old was on a Zoom meeting with her playschool class in the kitchen and I was pacing, holding our teething 15-month-old while leading a very important call with a new client.
“Hello, it’s me and yes, it’s a circus here but I promise you hired the right gal.”
It was just as exhausting as it sounds.
So yes, admittedly I was a little annoyed when my husband emerged from his office a couple hours later looking accomplished and maybe even a little rested. I was outraged! I had been chasing two kids around, cleaning up bits and pieces of snacks being smashed into the rug while attempting to do my job and now he was sauntering out to greet us? NOPE. No way. I was done and ready to pounce when he gave me a big hug and said, “I’m back. Let me handle this.” He jumped right in and started on lunch while making silly faces to keep the kids entertained so I could have a minute. All my frustrations went away and I was reminded of the man I married and why, despite our close proximity and not seeing many other humans in real life besides each other coupled with the fact that he snores, I don’t want to murder him after approximately one million uninterrupted hours together. Not even a little. It was one more affirmation that he’s the only man I want to do life with, quarantine included.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I don’t have it all together. We have had silly fights over the past few weeks simply because we’re operating in a high-stress situation while parenting young children which is a JOB in and of itself. While we love spending time together, we’re not used to spending every waking moment together and being able to go zero places. We miss our weekly date night. This time has been challenging for us, being that we are both strong extroverts and miss our people. We have both been so frustrated with the hurt and sickness in our world and our inability to control, well, anything, and sadly taken it out on each other. We’ve fallen into the bad habit of keeping a running list of “who forgot to do that thing again” and “who changed the last diaper.”
Our marriage isn’t perfect but whose is? This season is hard but it’s hard for everybody in different ways. We’re tackling this wacky season with a healthy dose of optimism as a team because that’s what being married is all about: stepping up when your partner really needs you; being the one who your person can count on; offering support, reassurance, and validation when this world is scary and you need to be reminded you’re not alone in this.
It’s real life, not a rom-com.
It’s a partnership, not a contest.
It’s forever and always; a daily choice to love and like each other.
It’s choosing to see the extra time together as an opportunity, not a burden to endure.
It’s giving grace during a time when the world is turned upside down and we’re all just doing our best.
We don’t always get it right.
But, a lot of days, we do.
Even sheltering at home during a pandemic.