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Quarantine really tests your marriage

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Yesterday, my husband was sitting next to me working on a puzzle — because that is our life now — and he was doing this really strange thing with his mouth, and his nose, too. It’s hard to describe exactly what he was doing. It’s almost like he was purposefully sucking air into nose and then slowly and extremely audibly blowing it out of his mouth.

Okay, fine! Fine. He was breathing.

But, good God, has he really been doing it this way for the last ten years? Certainly he hasn’t been doing it this loud and definitely not this often. The audacity, I thought to myself.

He must have known something wasn’t right — or possibly it was the death glare I shot him across the table — because he silently removed himself from the room.

The truth is, I need him now more than ever. He is the only one in the house willing to get us the food, after all. His bravery is more enduring than ever during this trying time.

Before we were quarantined, we stocked up on enough food to last us a few weeks. However, our kids keep drinking milk like it is wine so a trip to the store was in order. My husband selflessly offered to make a Costco run. Since I typically do most of the grocery shopping in the house, I thought it would be best to provide him a list.

The list looked something like this:

• Something important
• Something slightly less important
• Something I’ve never eaten before but now feels important
• Toilet Paper
• White Wine
• Milk
• Other less important things

The self-sacrificing martyr that my husband is drives to the store, stands in the line that wraps around the building that is one in one out and proceeds to buy all the things our family needs. Two hours later he returns. By this point, the kids and I are extremely thirsty and (slightly) irritable.

I begin unloading the groceries and to my dismay, I find one regular size bottle of white wine. One. ONE BOTTLE OF WINE. I, too, was perplexed and appalled by this. This was the goddamn quarantine…and I had one bottle of white wine to drink!? I panicked, understandably.

He looked at me and said flatly, “Maureen, you don’t even drink white wine.”

Okay, fine! Fine. He was right.

Red is my go to and my husband knows that well. But it’s the COVID quarantine and there are no rules and it’s starting to feel a lot like Groundhog Day so I thought I’d give white a try. Really go crazy, ya know?

Three hours later, my husband and I came to a peace treaty. We agreed that in the future I would use the plural form of wine (wines, obviously) when I am making the grocery list and that he would just do whatever I say.

This is just one example of how the COVID quarantine has tested my husband and I in incredibly illogical ways. This isolation has given my husband and I the extremely rare opportunity to spend absolutely way too much time together. Well, us and our three children. But don’t get me started on them. My husband and I have been married for almost ten years but we have spent most of that time working and sleeping. If I think about it, between working 40 hours a week and sleeping 8–9 hours a night, we see each other roughly 5 hours a day. And that 5 hours is typically spent getting food on the table, homework finished and kids to bed. Don’t get me wrong, we text and talk occasionally throughout the day but our time together, like most couples, is very limited.

This is what makes the quarantine so unique to not just me and my husband but all couples who have opted to self-isolate together. (And, yes, I considered the alternative.)

This is what is causing us to ask our spouses questions like, “Why are you chewing so loudly?” “Do you need to stand so close to me?” and “Why are you always here!?” Well, we know why our spouse is always here but you know what I mean. Things that were never even on our radar before — like your husband wearing the same sweatpants five days in a row — are now making us question whether this is even the right person for us.

These are truly strange times for married couples.

So much so that when my two year old daughter hid my wedding ring last week, I damn near called the whole thing off. No, not the search. The marriage. I was at my breaking point — exhausted from the kids and the work and the worry — I didn’t have the energy for my daughter to send me on a wild goose chase. Maybe we could just call it a trial separation until I find my ring, I suggested. Only the two year old laughed.

I truly love my husband and I’m thankful for him each and every day of the quarantine but this just isn’t a typical arrangement for us. While we used to spend 5 hours a days together, we are now spending 16 hours together (taking into consideration those 8 magnificent hours of sleep). Prior to the quarantine, in a six-week period, we would spend roughly 300 hours together. In the past six weeks, we have spent 672 hours together. That’s an additional 372 hours.

372 hours is only an additional 16 days, right? WRONG. Remember, our days together are 5 hours long. In married life, an extra 372 hours together is the equivalent of 75 days! That’s almost three months!

An extra three months together is a lot of time to really get to know another person. Sure, I’ve had 9 years and 9 months to do the same but remember, we’ve been working, sleeping, and raising kids. So, my husband and I began really getting to know each other the last few weeks and I’ve learned some fascinating information. For example, he stays on conference calls when he pees. That’s fun. He is still waking up at 6:00am every morning, just for shits and giggles. He doesn’t like the blinds closed before 7:00pm. And, for absolutely no reason whatsoever and without asking anyone permission, he will just shave off his beard. Did he really think I was emotionally stable enough for that?

While I’ve learned a lot about him, I’ve also learned a lot about myself. For example, I can still sleep until 10:00am (yay for me). I would close the blinds at 5:00pm every day, if I were allowed. I yell when I am stressed. And, I bake to relieve said stress.

More than anything, I’ve learned that my husband and I are not perfect, far from it in fact. And we certainly don’t have it all together. But, as lame as it may sound, together we have it all. Together, we’ve got this.

My husband and I have been making plans to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary this fall. We discussed maybe a trip to Napa, possibly Mexico. But, the way I see it, we don’t need to wait until the fall to celebrate 10 years of marriage. We’ve already made it…if you include our extra 75 days. And, trust me, I’m including these last 75 days.

With that, I am going to pop open a bottle of white wine champagne and raise a glass to us. And, really, to all couple who are staying home together — even if the word “home” now makes you cringe. These are weird, weird times and we are lucky to have someone we can’t stand to endure them with.

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