I’ve always said that I could be with my husband Noah 24/7 and be happy. Thanks to COVID-19, I’ve pretty much had the opportunity to put this notion to the test.
Due to the nature of my husband’s job, my extended stay at home started before his. Those 8-5 hours dragged by with just me, my dog, and I. While working, I thought all-day long about the moment that Noah would come home and what I would make us for dinner. With the heavy stress in the air, I wanted to give him a special homecoming each evening.
As I’ve spent some of my extra time scrolling on social media, I’ve noticed a common theme of content slowly and subtly emerging: tension between spouses and family members stuck at home together. I found it quite sad to hear about couples getting into arguments, and I found comments like “I’d be more worried about couples that aren’t fighting right now” even more heartbreaking. Here I am longing to be with my husband, and other people were struggling with it? Maybe I was just being too optimistic?
Given how the nature of COVID-19 changes each day, Noah was sent to work at home as well about a week after me. This is where I would discover if my relationship was really as peaceful as I thought it was, or if I needed to come to terms with the fact that marriage in close quarters isn’t destined for success.
The first morning we grabbed our laptops and set to work at home. While arguably more cozy, it was business as usual. Noah prefers to be stationed in his office for productivity, and I am definitely a move to where the most sunlight is and work in whatever location suits me that hour kind of person. Thus, I would get excited each time he opened his door. Dare I say, I would even check on him every now and again to make sure he wasn’t getting too stressed. By evening time, I was back on preparing a special dinner for us to say hello to relaxation time. Then, we went on to our regular routine. Even before the “shelter in place”, we would rarely go out in public on a weeknight. Day 1 was a total success. The days continued to go by swimmingly, and suddenly it was the weekend. I guess my efforts in creating moments to remember at home was paying off, because Noah told me with a big smile that he felt like we were dating again.
…Noah told me with a big smile that he felt like we were dating again.
That one sentence was everything that I could’ve asked for. I could tell that our chemistry and vibe had only been increasing with the extra time together, but it is always nice to hear that the person whom you love the most feels the same way (especially when they look at you in a way that you can tell they are admiring you at the same time).
Why do some people fight, and others fall more in love when forced to spend excess time together? I don’t know the answer to that question, and I’m not sure there is one. All that I can go by is what we do to cultivate both our relationship and friendship. So if you are one of those people that is struggling, please know that I don’t judge at all. Every marriage and every relationship is fundamentally different. Maybe the tension and passion is healthy for you? Maybe I’m totally crazy? In the off-chance that you do want to learn about ways to improve the culture of your home and quarantine, here are four actions that work wonders in my marriage (both now and always).
- Protect each other’s mental health:
- You don’t have to understand why someone is anxious or in a bad mood to show them love. Even though we live under the same roof and have for years, we have completely different anxieties and things that make us feel like shutting down. If I’m nervous about something, Noah will be there to rub my back and make me feel encouraged even if what I’m feeling is ridiculous. Similarly, I don’t need to know what is going on in Noah’s work to ask him what I can do to help take his stress away. Sometimes, you just need someone to help you.
- If there are times where one person feels like their privacy is being invaded, instead of building up frustration and lashing out, honestly say it like it is in the moment. Either ask for time to yourself or respect your partner’s wishes. I rarely (if ever) want privacy, so I have to keep in mind that it is okay and probably more normal that Noah needs it.
- Call each other out for being negative. It is very easy for me to spew negative energy when I’m feeling off. Lucky for me, Noah will stop me in my tracks and give me tough love in these situations. 10 times out of 10 it makes my attitude better even if it may be hard to hear and say.
- Alternate choosing activities: I may have touched on this in a past blog, but I think it is beneficial to spend time doing activities that are more important to one person than the other. One hour we may be doing prenatal workout videos, and the next hour we may be playing League of Legends together. This variety and respect for each other’s interests fosters both conversation and intimacy.
- Respect differing opinions: Coming from someone who says they don’t argue with their spouse, it may be hard for you to believe that Noah and I have fairly opposite political views. While we don’t agree on many ideas, we also don’t fight over them. I respect where he is coming from, and I try to focus on the things that we do align on. He does the same. Especially with all the politics surrounding COVID-19, it is important to not get into an us vs. them mentality, because your partner may not be on the same side. Bottom line, just be respectful.
- Genuinely try to listen to one another: This is very closely tied to protecting each other’s mental health, but I think it is important to mention how crucial it is to take time to listen to each other’s wants, needs, and even silliness. Who doesn’t want to feel like they are heard and that their words matter even when it is about the dream they had last night or what’s on their bucket list? True listening can be an intimate part of your relationship. Notice how I say “try” to listen to each other. There are times when I know that Noah is in his own little world, and I don’t hound him for not hearing what I’m saying. We are all human, and we can only do our best.
So really it boils down to communicate with each other and embrace respect. You will be better lovers and friends for doing so. I feel that there is no reason why you can’t be both. These are weird, scary times. Be a light for your partner and a source of peace rather than stress. There is plenty of chaos outside of the home, so make your partner (which is really your home) your shelter.