Truth is, my husband and I were in “a time of uncertainty” long before the pandemic hit. When COVID-19 touched down in the U.S., he and I were in the midst of trying to decide what was next for us individually and as a couple. On a macro scale, we’d spent the last four years navigating the intricacies of marriage as newlyweds, trying to figure out what made us happy. But to no avail, we still didn’t feel that we had the answers to the hard questions like: “Can I do this forever? and “Are we happy here or are we simply maintaining?”
Through trial and error, therapy and prayer, we were making some progress but found that we were still having many of the same discussions (and often arguments) in year four, as we were in year one — so often, that to avoid conflict we kept our distance. As we prepped for quarantine, the thought of being on lockdown together in our small NYC apartment scared the hell out of us, but as it turns out, a little uninterrupted time together was exactly what we needed to confront our fears, build an unbreakable bond, and answer many of the hard questions.
Over the past year, we’d found comfort in our duel schedules which were thoughtfully designed to pencil each other in on nights and weekends while we worked to progress personally, and professionally — and often without intention, separately. Fast forward to being placed in quarantine where we would spend most of the day and night together or at least in proximity to one another. We didn’t know what to expect or how to properly plan for the possible social awkwardness that may ensue but we quickly worked to set up separate work spaces, divi-up chores, and develop a method of communication that would keep the peace while we were trapped in our 700 sq. ft. home.
Our unspoken discomfort and cautious conversation was inevitably tested with our first big quarantine quarrel. Out of bad habit, we immediately shut down and went to our separate corners, e.i. the bedroom and living room. Normally, this type of disagreement could drag on for a few days but with nowhere to go and few distractions, we both knew we would have to find a way to fix it and quickly because practicing the silent treatment with the person who you spend 90% of your time with is no fun, uncomfortable and to be real, its damn near impossible.
I’m pretty sure my husband spoke first, doing his best to offer both an apology and solution to relieve some of the tension in the house. Admiring his effort, I quickly followed suit with an apology, eager to get back to a place of positivity. It was amazing to see how quickly we both willingly accepted the challenge to be better once we no longer had the option to run from the responsibility to reconcile.
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Throughout the month, we continued to practice quick recovery anytime there was an issue and honestly, it was a game changer. Immediately addressing concerns allowed us to honor and adapt to each other’s needs, offer acts of service, and answer calls for emotional resonance– that had, lowkey, seemed like work before. Within weeks we were apologizing quickly without being prompted, and never allowing too much time to pass without showing some sign of affection that silently said, “I acknowledge your presence”. It was weird, weird for us anyway, but deeply appreciated.
We were somehow finding a way to do the work that we were once avoiding, paying close attention to what the other needed, and even wanted on a deeper level. The care was no longer fleeting. It was concentrated, day in and day out, because there was nowhere to run, and few distractions to overshadow the responsibilities of marriage. On a whim, we would sit down and have the hard but necessary conversations about life, childhood, and our marital growth. Sometimes, we’d blow up, re-group, apologize, watch a little Netflix and start over, and that was fine. We were fine.
With the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight, we’d gotten into a rhythm, a rhythm that we both enjoyed; but while settling into our new routine, we found out that everything was about to change. We were becoming parents. That’s right, a baby was on the way! We couldn’t believe the timing or maybe we could because we were so happy -– the happiest we’d been in years and it was all prompted by a pandemic. A pandemic that forced us to stop running and start recovering.
I’m in no way insensitive to the tragedy that is COVID-19, and I’d never say a global pandemic is the key to rekindling a relationship or fostering reconciliation. However, for us, intentionality and uninterrupted time together was just what we needed to re-connect, re-build and grow closer.