I heard an interesting headline the other day about how divorce rates are going up as a result of social distancing measures. The notion of being in prolonged confinement with ones partner or spouse can certainly test the commitment of, “In good times and bad”. In response to this, I have been thinking about how being in prolonged isolation and confinement with my husband has affected our marriage.
And, I’m surprised that it has actually been quite positive.
I would like to pause here, before you read the rest of this post, and leave a short disclaimer. This post is a reflection of my personal experiences. For many people, sadly, this time of isolation and confinement with their partner actually poses a threat to their safety. There are many people in the world right now that are confined with abusive partners. I want to take a moment to acknowledge that fact, and say that these next experiences are not shared to disregard those people, or to ignore how negatively this situation can impact relationships. I hold anyone who is in an abusive or unhappy relationship in my thoughts and prayers because no one should have to go through that.
For some background, my husband and I have been together for almost 6 years and married for almost 2. I’m in my mid-twenties and he’s in his late-twenties. We have been living together for about 4 years. To some, I realize this might mark us as newly weds and inexperienced in marriage or relationships. While this may be true to some extent, I think our experiences are still worth sharing.
I’ll be the first to admit, at the outset I was worried what it might be like being confined together for so long and what impacts that confinement might have on our marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but endless days and nights with even your favourite human logically might lead to increased fighting or getting sick of each other.
However, I’ve been surprised that we are noticeably bickering less! We’ve never been a couple that fights a lot, but like most couples we argue, bicker, and have heated discussions. In the last month, I have noticed that even when we do argue we are much quicker to end disputes, apologize, and make amends than usual. We are also spending a lot of time together (like I said endless days and nights), and as it turns out, we aren’t sick or tired of each other (yet).
And here are the reasons why.
1. We are getting to spend more quality time together and we aren’t rushing our interactions. Our life is a little slower in isolation, and that is a help to relationships. We can take the time we need to break down feelings, and explain our thoughts to each other. Whereas in our “normal” life we often feel rushed because our lives are more busy with work and responsibilities, and we are forced to choose between spending time with our significant other or pursuing our hobbies (especially if you don’t share hobbies).
2. We are grateful to not be alone and to have someone to share this scary time with. This situation is serving as a daily reminder of the challenges of living alone. Whether it was in response to something as simple as bringing the huge 3 week haul of groceries up 3 flights of stairs to our apartment, or feeling lonely and wanting some human connection, both of us have said many times in the last month, “Thank God I’m not doing this by myself”.
3. We don’t want to be stuck with someone who we are in conflict with and we need to work it out because there’s no escape from one another. Unlike in “normal life”, we can’t really run away from conflict or avoid difficult interactions. Also, we can’t seek out other people who might fill our needs and we are forced to resolve our conflicts in order to both have a pleasant living environment (or at least tolerable). No one wants to be stuck in a fight when they can’t leave the house.
4. We are having to comfort one another as we are experiencing anxiety, sadness, or stress and we are reminded every day how easy it is to lose the person we love. The profound stories of suffering that are flooding the world remind us to love one another when we have the chance, and to offer each other a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold. It also reminds us how trivial and unimportant our disputes can be and that there are bigger and worse things. Who cares about accidentally leaving the lights on, or forgetting to take out the trash when the world is seemingly falling apart and people are dying. It might be cliché but it’s also true.
While I miss what married life was like before coronavirus, going out for dates, traveling, and visiting our friends & family, I am grateful that our marriage has been tested through this experience. That’s not to say our marriage is perfect and every day is sunshine and rainbows but, I am getting a unique opportunity to learn about my partner in new challenging ways and further explore the dynamics of life-long partnership. My hope is that we are able to take some of these lessons with us into the rest of our (hopefully) many years of marriage.
Hannah B. L.