Marriage and the Pandemic

Marriage is hard. 

Relationships, in general, are hard.

Maintaining bonds with friends, family, partners, and even colleagues requires time, commitment, and patience – resources of which I have very little. I’ve always found relationships difficult. All of them. Platonic, familial, sexual. Maybe it’s my fierce independence, ravenous need for freedom, or my general distrust of most humans. I keep my circle small. Very small.

The government imposed social distancing should be heaven for someone like me. It would be. It could be. If I lived alone. But I don’t. I share my home with a husband and a tween. Our home is cozy. That’s a polite way to say small – too small at times, times like a global pandemic. We have just enough room to live our simple lives—rooms with thin walls and cheap doors. Privacy is limited to the bathroom or bedroom. Did I mention the thin walls? And the husband? The tween?

I did? Then you know that there is no privacy here, nowhere to escape.

We are fortunate, though, and I am not ignorant to that. We have plenty of food, toilet paper, and the resources to educate our little one. The stressors of how to pay the rent or buy groceries are not ours, yet there is stress.

Marriage is hard.

Marriage during a pandemic can feel impossible.

The cracks in my marriage appeared long before the global crisis. Twenty plus years of jobs, bills, blended families, and kids have taken its toll. We were managing. Living peacefully, even if not truly happy. Together but separate. Uniting to parent or make decisions that would affect the family. Traveling together. Anchoring our elderly parents and supporting our siblings. Together but separate. Each of us sacrificing a bit of our own happiness to give our family what we didn’t have – stability and a home free of significant discord. We had been successful – mostly.

As the pandemic unfolds, the news is filled with stories about efforts to save businesses and stimulating the economy. News of unemployment and discussions on how to prevent the financial ruin of millions. All of these critical issues. All of them dire and sad. But COVID will do more than harm the financial health of families and the nation. The psychological trauma will be devastating and long-lasting.

Reports of domestic violence, child abuse, and calls to mental health hotlines are up. People are afraid of the virus, fearful of the uncertainty, and sometimes fearful of the people in their homes. What are we doing to mitigate that damage? How will we flatten that curve?

There is no abuse or fear in my cozy, crowded home—just resentment and frustration.

When the world is closed, where do you go when you need space to breathe and think and release? To how many books can you lose yourself? How many showers can you drown your frustration in? How many movies can you retreat to? What good is a walk if you must so quickly return to the tension and arguments that pushed you out?

Marriage is hard.

Anonymous Author.