Even if the household “lockdown” during the pandemic is eased up, it’s created some very bad vibes between my husband and me, which I’m not sure we’ll get past together.
We’ve disagreed on many issues, like how strict to be with our kids (12 and 10) about keeping up their online schoolwork.
Also, about how I’ve been handling our budget for the past 12 years. And how to actually “share” household chores rather than avoid them, since we’re both working from home.
We’ve always had minor standoffs. He used to find an excuse to meet a couple of buddies in a bar for a few beers, and come home relaxed and hoping for make-up sex.
I’ve always had my “besties” - two girlfriends since high-school days who can still laugh me out of a mood and into a clearer view of what really matters.
But COVID-19 sealed us into our opposite positions when we disagree, since we couldn’t get away from each other without risking being exposed to the virus.
Now I’m wondering if the “new normal” for us will be an inability to recover from the conflicts. Will we “open up” just to face the likelihood of getting a divorce?
Effects on My Marriage
You’re both experiencing crisis fatigue.
You’ve been forced by medical science, official responses, community fear and common sense, to isolate your small family unit from the dangerous possibility of coronavirus infection through contact with others.
You’ve had to live in a small bubble serving as protection from far worse disaster than the strain of some marital disagreements.
Now, it’s time to use resources beyond a few friends (though they’ve been helpful in the past and will be in the future).
Start with each other. Go for a socially-distanced family walk, and start a gentle conversation. Ask the kids how they think they did with online schoolwork, what subjects and teaching tools were easy to follow and which weren’t.
Instead of you and your husband arguing, you’ll get some insights to share with their teachers, with other parents, and maybe even with the school board.
On another occasion - best after the kids have gone to bed - raise with your husband not how he would manage the household budget differently, but ways that experts advise, which you two can read together online and discuss.
You may even want to book a video-discussion with someone whose approach seems worth learning about further.
Household chores are a common domestic issue that has to do with basic fairness. No one should get a pass now, unless they’re on front lines of the pandemic (hospital personnel including cleaners, caregivers, ambulance drivers, etc.), all work involving constant and risky sanitizing tasks.
At home, keep it simple. The kids should have their own chores, and you and hubby should alternate yours or stick with an equal division.
Despite all the current stresses, be proud of making it through so far, protecting your kids and each other from illness.
And, together, protecting a far wider circle of your parents, siblings, other relatives, friends and neighbours from the virus’ rabid spread.
That positive reality is worth sharing an appreciative hug with your partner.
Make-up sex can be helpful, too, so long as it’s not the only times you two have a physical connection.
Once you two can accept differing opinions (online counselling can help with this) the intimacy level between you will also be stronger.
Reader’s Commentary - On having a positive attitude:
“I’m a senior living alone during the pandemic. I find that the lack of structure in my days gives me a feeling of disorientation.
“It doesn’t matter to anyone, even those who love me, when I eat, sleep or do any daily activities. This can be depressing and unhealthy.
“One thing that’s helped me with these shapeless days is that I have a friend who lives alone in another city. We both are in the habit of going to bed quite late.
“So each midnight we text each other to give a little report on how the day went and to say “goodnight” with words and images.
“Sometimes there’s more news to share. Sometimes it’s just a friendly goodnight. This simple exchange gives me pleasant contact with another person to close the day. Then I feel ready for bed. I know my friend feels the same way.”
Tip of the day:
Don’t let COVID-19 stress turn your focus to disagreements instead of keeping your family safe. Communicate, and/or seek online help.