Hear me out readers – given the horrors of 2020 marriage has become a bit of an Olympic sport. It ain’t for the untrained. So many marriages are under extraordinary strain from without and within. From grandma, from CNN, from the dwindling bank account. Far too many of us are never … away … from one another.
The aphorism that “distance makes the heart grow fonder” has never been more true than this year where so many of us have been suddenly forced to spend six months or more stuck together. Thrown together in the same however many square feet.
Oh, you love your husband? Well lets see how you feel about that after some home confinement!
Ankle bracelets and wedding bands, my friends. What a world!
Last year, it may have sounded idyllic. Months “off” from work? Living the dream of work-from-home? I don’t have to go TO the supermarket? All this time for Hulu (still, not a sponsor).
Until we found that our collective psyche was held together by the thin gauze of compartmentalization. From 9-5 we were office managers or dentists or chiropractors and then we hopped into a phone booth and changed into our other cape, being parents, spouses, loved ones, Little League coaches.
We allowed ourselves to molt and reveal our tender side, hidden from the world. Doting on aging parents, adorable children, or resolute pets in the evening. Now there is no evening. Now it is like Alaska where there is no nighttime for six months (that happens there, right?).
But now there is no thin line of separation between our many selves. We are everything at once. There is no thin barrier between the outside world and the inside world. Sometimes, within the same ten minutes, we are math teachers and then immediately shift to being emotional support spouses, and then hop on the phone to carefully navigate a sensitive legal or business negotiation. It is too much at once. Too many faces. There is no structure anymore. Where are we in all of this?
This is not how we were made.
So many spouses and parents are finding that they had come to rely upon wearing only one mask at a time. It turns out that this one-mask-at-a-time rule was essential to our well-being.
As the stress mounts, it is only natural to take these feelings out on those you live with, and for so many that is a significant other or a spouse.
My heart goes out to the couples that were on the fence about moving in with one another and finally, timidly took the leap this past February.
It is not suddenly your spouse’s fault that, as you complain to your sister, “he brushes his teeth the wrong way”. Or that your wife chews too loudly. Your boyfriend’s advice as to how you could have better handled that phone call with your boss was tone-deaf, sure, but well-intentioned. He means the best!
Try not to take this out on your spouse.
Find a place (or, if there is no place, then find a thing). A place or a thing to call your own. Do it everyday at a certain time. Consider it mandatory.
Your partner or children should know that from, say 1-2pm you will not be available. You will be reading or watching football, or meditating, or something.
If you don’t have a something find one. And do it alone.
Don’t play video games with the kids. Or Facetime with your folks. Take some you-time.
Sit in your backyard and do shrooms for all I care (not sound legal advice).
These guilty pleasures that, in a previous world, used to keep us from our families may now save our families from us. Take time to be you, without distraction.
Hell, nap if that is what works best for you.
All of our worlds have intertwined and twisted into themselves now in some horrifying Venn diagram and self-care has never been so important. To survive a marriage at a time like this it is absolutely essential that you have quality time away from the marriage.
No nuptials are so lovely they will not drown you.
Allow your spouse (or partner) and children to miss you, even for a little while.
When we are all together all the time and no one gathered around the dinner table has any shrooms it is impossible not to be taken for granted.
“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” -Katherine Hepburn