My husband of 20 years and I (both late-40s) work in completely different fields. He’s spent years with the same company, becoming an executive with his own large office and an executive assistant.
I’ve worked at home since we’re married, except for rushing about to appointments in other people’s offices, meeting with noisy creative people.
Now, we’re both required to stay home because of Covid-19, except to get groceries, medications and other essential needs.
And, though we love each other, we’re driving each other crazy!
We’re lucky to live in a fairly spacious three-bedroom condo. (His adult son from a previous marriage lives in another city.)
But we can’t find a satisfying work routine in the same environment.
I must work with lots of light coming in from a window, and upbeat music in the background. He requires an environment as close to silent as possible.
I take many breaks from sitting - to get a coffee, or lift some weights in the spare room, or talk online with a friend. He sits unmoving for an hour, then walks around his large desk 15 times, and sits down again.
I’ve always made casual, quick lunches on my own. He’s used to an hour’s lunch break and now wants to discuss his work or the news of the virus in the middle of the day.
(I’m following news flashes as they come in, totally used to multi-tasking and responding to all cell-phone “pings.”)
Help! There’s tension building between us and I’m getting more worried about whether the marriage is going to survive than about our health!
First, get a grip on the reality that this is a health crisis like none anyone alive has known.
Focus on two priorities: 1) That you protect yourselves, each other and anyone else you can, from contracting the virus. 2) That you don’t let “small stuff” destroy your marriage.
As I say so often, look for solutions.
Re-organize the condo. Never mind where the furniture may or may not look best, just move your desk near a window, and if it means his desk has to push the dining table out of the way, so be it. Eat in your condo kitchen, it’s less bother.
Suggest to your husband that he look online for the most effective ear plugs, or ear buds or white-noise machines to block out your music. (Be fair, keep your volume down).
DO talk to each other at a lunch break, but don’t always discuss the virus and its impact across the globe. You’d both do better to catch up and share what you’ve read or watched on TV at the end of your work day.
Instead, use that lunch break to learn more about each other’s work so you can better appreciate each other’s efforts. Then decide together what you’ll eat/cook for dinner.
After work’s done, cook together, and sit down to a set table. Even if one of you picks up cooked food or you order in, make dinner together a different, special part of your day.
Connect through memories of great times together - past special occasions, adventures, unusual meals, etc.
Applaud each other’s efforts to stay physically active - set up a half-hour break to do it together online. Go out for separate brisk walks away from others, if that’s permitted in your location.
Make love. It’s re-energizing, relieves stress, re-connects you.
Then respect and help each other through this.
FEEDBACK Regarding the letter-writer who was uncertain whether to let a former lover who’d broken her heart by cheating, back into her life (March 21):
Reader – “Since the man is in her city only every couple of months for a week, it may be more productive for the writer to seek counselling on her own, rather than try couples’ counselling with him.
“He has a job which requires a lot of travelling. The reality is that he may not have been faithful even longer than she thought.
“It reminds me of the saying, "A sailor has a girl in every port."
“If she finds through therapy that she can be content to have a less-than-exclusive relationship, she may decide to just enjoy the time they have together when he is in town.”
Ellie - I suggested “couples’ counselling” because she needs to hear his reasons as to why he cheated in the midst of their intense relationship.
Tip of the day:
Too much couple togetherness staying home? Solve small stuff, compromise on bigger things, connect as friends and lovers.