During the six years that I’ve been married, I accepted and took for granted the differences between us.
I’m a tidy-upper, he drops some of his clothes wherever he happens to be, including the living room couch, etc. There’s always a t-shirt flung on the bed, a sweatshirt tossed on the back of a chair.
Now we’re hanging around our small apartment a whole lot more.
With both of us working from home, not going to restaurants or bars, no dinners at friends’ houses, I’m rushing around doing all the cleaning up, while he’s streaming several new series on his computer.
Also, he’s been far more casual than me about protective social-distancing from COVID-19 contact, that we’re still supposed to be observing.
He’ll pick up food orders in the neighbourhood and bring them to our kitchen counter without wearing gloves or wiping anything first.
He saw our neighbour’s cat near our door recently, and welcomed it inside until I insisted he had to send it back home (two doors away on our same floor). Pet collars can carry the virus.
We’re both mid-30s, so he keeps saying that we’re safe because our age group is healthy, and we can get over the virus if we catch it.
I’m more attuned to the information that comes out daily and sometimes changes by the hour. So, I know that there’ve been plenty of cases in different cities of people our age getting sick and being hospitalized with the coronavirus.
We used to be able to have good times together and put up with our differences through humour (or me just giving in and cleaning up after him).
Now, I’m starting to resent his attitude because, I believe, if we’re not good at being in this together, what’s the hope for our future when, we now know, anything can change overnight?
We love each other but I’m finding it harder than ever to live with him.
Mis-Matched or Just Fed Up?
Most couples have areas of difference that can become more irritating, especially under such unusual circumstances as we’ve all known lately.
But we surmount them - not always with perfect responses - but with boundaries. You go to work in separate places, come home and each knows what’s needed.
One of you might cook, the other clean-up. Or you both do it all together.
IF your husband has always relaxed while you hung up his clothes, and tidied the place, that’s a mistake to let go on too long unless you didn’t care. But you do.
Even in easy-living times, respect and appreciation are based on give-and-take, with both people making the relationship work.
However, these difficult times are not when you should consider giving up on your marriage.
Your husband may be far more stressed internally than you realize, he may even be scared… reflected in his avoidance of reading updated news on the virus.
Your attempt to control your surroundings by tidying his clothes reflects the discomfort and anxiety that you, too, feel about the virus.
It’s time to talk together - without blame - and create agreed boundaries for living together under intense circumstances. This may not be the only time that you’re going to need a blueprint for getting along better.
Get through this as amicably as possible. You can re-visit the issues that divide you later, then consider counselling to handle some of your differences.
Loving each other is a good start.
My neighbour’s on her own. Her only child, a married son, lives far away. Widowed and mid-70s, she’s social distancing alone.
Finances aren’t an issue, she’s retired with a good pension. I’ve called several times asking if she needed anything, but she’s had grocery orders delivered and insists she doesn’t need anything.
But she’s lonely and bored. When I said I’d come visit a while and stay at the recommended distance, she said her son told her to not allow it.
I’m not sure if he fears for the virus or that, as a man, I’ll take advantage of her.
Should I be insulted or just annoyed?
Sad response, but her son probably feels helpless so is overreacting to “protect” his mom from a distance. There’s no point repeating your offer since it may be mis-read by them. If you sense she’s in trouble, call community services to check.
Tip of the day:
Don’t let external difficulties beyond your control divide you. Set boundaries and co-operate to get through it.