My husband and I are both at home full-time right now because of COVID-19, and I think we are actually growing apart. Don’t get me wrong, we love each other, but at first we were getting annoyed with being around one another constantly, so we both made sure to take some daily time apart for either teleworking or engaging in various hobbies and activities. Now, two weeks in, it feels like we “split up” as soon as we wake up, and we only come together for meals and late-night TV. I kind of don’t love it. I thought we were supposed to use this time to get closer to each other?
While formulating my response to this, I found myself tempted to disparage American life and the way we live it (wake up, work, go home, sleep), as well as the trouble most of us have had in adjusting to its being disrupted by the virus. This moment in history is unprecedented for pretty much everyone alive today, and, frankly, I don’t think we’re supposed to know what to do. This is playing out nothing like how Contagion said it would, and thank God this doesn’t resemble World War Z. We freaked out and imagined the worst, but really we’re all just stuck inside and bored while also realizing that the most “essential” members of the American workforce are the lowest paid. We have to feel our way through life in quarantine and take it one day at a time. It’s OK to struggle with this, to feel listless and paralyzed, or to get radicalized by the health care and wage gaps being exposed while this all plays out. None of us have ever done this before.
So you’re stuck in quarantine with one other person, and your two best options—hang out all the time or make a schedule to maximize solitude—are both not ideal for you. What was it about being around one another that got annoying? Maybe set some boundaries to address the specific issue, instead of avoiding each other all day. Were you getting into little squabbles or fights over which podcast to listen to, silly couple stuff like that? Instead of splitting up when you wake, maybe you could both telework from one quiet office: earbuds only and no chatting. If you’re squabbling over inconsequential things, remember that they’re meaningless issues, and your husband is not a monster for clinking his spoon against his coffee mug or not wanting to watch BTS fan videos with you.
I don’t want to pick this apart too much, because there’s really not a lot that can be done right now to get your lives back to the way they were. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that this probably won’t end next week, and I’m losing my attachment to figuring out what “the end” of this pandemic even looks like. I’m not giving up, I’m just accepting the present with the intention of living my life as best I can within it. I mean, is there anything to really “give up” on? Is there even anything an individual can “do” in terms of ending this as quickly as possible? Beyond slowing the spread of the virus though current measures, not really. Mother Nature will never bend to our wishes or machinations, and we are at this virus’s mercy until a vaccine becomes a real possibility. Until then, well… buy the ticket, take the ride.
You and your husband might just have to ride out this awkward home life until social distancing measures are lifted, and we can all return to our regular lives. Perhaps having quiet office hours in the same room will allow you to be productive while also being together, and I also encourage you both to work on acceptance. That’s my less-crunchy way to describe mindfulness or an ability to see what’s present, to accept a thing in its presence and let it go once it is no longer present. This is your home, you share it with bae, and neither of you can control the situation that has you stuck inside. Be supportive of each other in moments of stress and frustration, and remember that this will not last forever.
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