I’ve been married for 14 years and a lot is different from what I thought it’d be like.
My then-boyfriend and I were totally connected. I respected his job and also understood he needed some guy time with his friends. He was proud of my success as an intern in a big firm, and we were both feeling very good about our joint income.
We could buy a nice condo and also take two-week breaks in both summer and winter. Then we had kids. Our two daughters are ten and seven. We needed a house.
Before the pandemic, their father still spent two late nights and a weekend each month out with his buddies. Nothing was allowed to interfere, not even my company’s major off-site weekend meetings.
I’d have to beg my parents to take the children, though I knew it’s a lot of work for them, and that the girls missed us even though their grandparents adore them.
Much more has changed us since Covid. My husband’s constantly “busy” even though he’s working from home. He’s either on his phone and/or computer and in between he’s playing games like a restless teenager. He may even be addicted to gaming, which isn’t a healthy model for our daughters.
I’m very conflicted. I understand there’s been huge stress on everyone since our lives changed a year ago when the virus first affected everything.
But I feel guilty working when my children need comforting because they’re afraid they’ll have to wear masks forever and worry about getting sick or infecting others.
So far, we ‘ve stayed healthy, but I know in my heart we’ve been affected in a negative way.
It feels like we’re no longer solid as a couple, like we’re each operating in separate spheres... he’s on his path, I’m on mine, and we fit in the children, their homework and any special interests, when we can or must.
How do we get back to that time when we were bonded together and being a family was a joy for us all? Do we have to wait for some announcement one or two more years ahead that COVID-19 has been conquered and we can emerge from our private bunkers of fear and isolation?
You’re right about this fact: Everyone’s been affected by Covid.
As recipient of countless letters describing changes in couple relationships, and doubts about how to handle the resulting stresses and distancing, I’m aware of collective unrest, anxiety and emotional pain.
Forgive yourself for these feelings. Blame the global upheaval created by a rampant infection which science and health experts are trying to control. Do not blame yourself or your partner for not finding it easy to adjust.
Stay alert to your daughters’ feelings and moods, to assure they feel secure and loved. It’s good that they care about others’ safety too, but not to fear their every move.
Your husband’s gaming is a distraction from all the pressures and change. If it persists and increases, he may need help giving up what could become an addiction.
He may also be betting and losing money but ashamed to admit it. If necessary, be ready to get help to intervene.
Try to balance your own work routine with exercise or meditation breaks. Insist on mealtime and cleaning being a family effort with everyone given a task. Urge outdoor winter activities on weekends with the whole family if possible.
There’ve been previous pandemics. This one too will eventually pass.
FEEDBACK Regarding the personal pet-care items tossed out by the jealous girlfriend of the pet-sitter’s employer (February 10):
Reader – “The girlfriend’s jealous actions were unwarranted. She, not the employer, should be responsible to replace items she threw out.
“I disagree that the employer “threw her under the bus.” It was the girlfriend by her immature actions.
“She was jealous and showed herself to be unpredictable, so we’re left unaware of just how confrontational she was. Her boyfriend likely felt intimidated or concerned for his welfare at the time.
“He’s not the one who left the pet-sitter with a questionable reputation, it was the jealous girlfriend. Your response was unfair to a man who loved his pet so much that he paid a pet-sitter to ensure it was okay and didn’t feel abandoned.”
Ellie - He didn’t stop the girlfriend from tossing things nor admit he’d told the pet-sitter to leave slippers there. No hero.
Tip of the day:
Pandemic stress is inevitable. Try ways your family can adjust and find alternative de-stressors.