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Relationships Under Quarantine: Twenty Years Together vs Two Months Of Dating. HOW IS IT GOING?

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photo by 6-year-old charlie henderson

Well, here we are trapped together. When we get married or move in together we all love each other a lot. “Best Friends!” We say. But what if you were told that someday you’d be quarantined together, for 10 weeks or more, essentially trapped in your home. And what if inside this pretty “trap,” you have children that you have to entertain, feed, bathe, TEACH ALGEBRA TO, all while staying on top of work so you can pay your trap bills??? Before you say “I do,” do you like this person THAT MUCH? I obviously think the answer would still be yes, because cracks in relationships don’t present themselves til hardships do, but still… it would be an interesting scenario to present before the vow exchange.

This is hard no matter what. Brian and I are super lucky in so many ways but have still had to find our footing and some days are fine, even good. However, the days when I have to work a lot (trying to, you know, survive this financially – THANK YOU for being here) he has the kids far more than 50%, which he is honestly fine with and amazing at, but it’s still very trying. I’ve never been more grateful for him, truthfully. I just think about all the couples that didn’t share responsibilities before this, all the men or women that were gone 50 hours a week (now home 100% of the time and expected to help with all of the chores). Brian and I were talking about how much this is going to test and change relationships. Will this speed up divorces by couples that didn’t know how disconnected they had become? Or bring them back together? Will it create a super solid “we can get through anything” bond? Will the partner that works outside the home finally empathize and really SEE the work that the stay at home parent has always done? As the cracks in the relationship start to widen with such claustrophobic pressure some might not make it out. OR again will the fact that we are spending so much time together actually help some relationships become more close and healthy? Will people learn to communicate better because they are forced to or will the fights just now start? What’s it going to be????

photo by 6-year-old charlie henderson

We are only 2 weeks in so it’s hard to make big statements, as we have weeks to go. But as a family who was actually lacking time together, we are getting a lot of it which is the current silver lining. We are doing things together that we used to do separately – working out, cooking every meal and yes shooting for this blog. I’ve secretly always wanted to work with Brian, have him shoot the video content and go full “Young House Love” (a husband/wife family blog) or “Chris Loves Julia“. So last week as I was crying about how to keep this blog up and running, he totally stepped in and he’s actually pretty into it. He’s been shooting the DIY photos, videos and actually likes being in them – and he’s so funny so he adds a lot (in my opinion). We don’t know what we are doing and of course, I miss having my professional team with me in the same room. But I suppose being forced to do this (not having my team to rely on) has made us do it together, with kids around, and it’s a new shift in our relationship. Ha, hopefully for the good (I can hear John and Sherry and Chris and Julia about to email me with the warnings of running a blog with your spouse).

But there are challenges. I’m writing this with headphones in but can still hear his frustration trying to get the kids to sit and do the one hour of reading and writing that we do every morning. And we both feel like we clean all day every day, but at least we can see that each other is doing their part whereas in normal life it’s hard to really see what each other does all day and how much each is contributing. So much goes unnoticed that now is noticed – there is no hiding, which I think has to be a good thing. Ultimately I realize what a lucky position we are in, I promise. I know that just having each other and a nice space that has nature nearby is keeping us not only sane but enjoying this time together. So no real complaints here – just lots of conversations about it. Ultimately right now we are focusing on the gift of time together and trying to only read the news once a day.

But since talking about relationships is my favorite thing to do, I’m so curious about how a couple who is relatively new in their relationship was handling it and Julie was happy to chime in. So if you want to hear about a real interesting situation, let’s hand it over to Julie…

I officially/unofficially moved in with my boyfriend about nine days ago. A day before LA went on our version of a lockdown my boyfriend, Sean, came over to discuss our options for the quarantine. He suggested that I move in with him temporarily so that we weren’t separated during this time. But in my head, that meant that we would be spending 24/7 with one another for who knows how long. Were we really ready for this? That is A LOT of time together, in an apartment with 3 other roommates who I had never met before. 

Mind you that we have officially been together for only 2 months although we have known each other since 2016. We were friends that never lived in the same city until January of 2019 when we started our round one of dating which lasted for about 5 months (the timing was off). Then last October we started hanging out again as “friends,” hahahaha. That quickly turned into a full-blown relationship and here I am writing this from his bedroom. Yes, that’s right I gave up that cute desk set up to sit either squished between his bed and dresser or straddled across from the bed to type (it’s kind of a good leg workout though. Don’t tell him that). But that is love, people. 

Since I’ve been here we have spent a ton of time in his 10’x13’ room. When I’m not working, we are filling the days with “fun activities” like yoga, workouts, reading, hangboarding, playing Magic the Gathering (which is brand new to me so I’m still learning), binge-watching The Outsider and meditating. But if I’m honest it’s beginning to feel a bit like I’m living in the movie, Groundhog Day. To shake things up earlier this week we had a dinner and a movie “date night” where we ordered pizza and rented The Invisible Man on Amazon, which I would highly recommend.

So, why didn’t we decide for him to just stay with me, you ask? Good question. Don’t you have more stuff that you’d need to bring over, you wonder? Yeah, I did. And there are of course the mini-projects that I wish I could be doing at home like painting my bathroom or finally organizing the storage unit. At the same time though I hate to be stuck inside all day and his apartment has a huge patio and backyard with a garden. That ultimately was a big yes in my book. Oh! Did I mention that there are FOUR cats and FOUR dogs on the property?? As an equal lover of cats and dogs you know I am taking my breaks from work playing with those cuties.

The reality is that as much as I wanted to sleep in my comfy bed at my house that didn’t matter as much to me as being with my person. This is not an easy time but Sean has been there for me to make it as easy as possible. Still, every day I question if this was the best decision for our relationship in the long run. I guess only time will tell. Literally.

Emily again! So let’s make this is a conversation – obviously with any tips you guys have for keeping the peace and the love strong. Nobody on my team has kids so admittedly it’s going to be easier for them – or maybe harder because kids actually break up the day? I don’t know! But for those of you trapped in your house with your partner with or without children, tell us – HOW IS IT GOING??? (and yes you can be anonymous). Is being trapped together actually going to be good for your relationship, parenting or marriage??

Fin Mark

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Victoria

We wfh a lot and aren’t social butterflies so we’re used to spending a lot of time together. I have an underlying condition ( not a high covid risk one) and anxiety is freaking me out some days but he’s used to that and we’re used to supporting each other. No kids, which definitely feels easier.
In my job I’ve spent the last week completely focussed on covid and having to read the news but it’s getting to me so I’m attempting to cut back.

No criticism meant, just my view, I think I would’ve stayed where I was if I were Julie. I do have a garden at my place though and we’re round the corner from a park so I have a lot of outdoor space and we’re allowed out once a day for exercise (obviously I use the garden more than that!). It’s still spring in the UK so I would have liked California or Texas with sun and a pool!

Jennifer Mills

My husband is a relatively new lawyer, so most of the past two years he’s been working non-stop hours. I mean coming home most days at 10pm. So both having to work from home has actually been really lovely. We get to make dinner together again and go for lunch break walks. I feel more connected than I have in a while. It also means that he’s been forced to set-up a home office, so when all this is over, he can actually work more often from home. Although, our weekend task is so build some ikea furniture together. Wish us luck!

What I realized is that work really does create a lot of distance between people – I have a similar situation where my boyfriend often doesn’t get home until super late and he leaves very early in the morning due to his commute. And right now we’re getting to spend so much time together. But I don’t honestly know if that’s a product of our modern times or that’s just how it’s always been.

DeniseGK

I feel like the ikea build might be more dangerous than coronavirus! I have heard some horror stories… but really, good luck to y’all and it sounds like you both are in a good headspace which makes all the difference.

Erin Frost

As a long time homeschooler, let me pass along a hard earned lesson. An hour is too long for kids that age to concentrate or sit doing anything (unless it is new or novel). 15 -20 minutes for a lesson is standard in the elementary classroom. It looks like 30-45 minutes in the schedule because there is 15 minutes of chaos (distributing and collecting supplies for 20+ students), 15 minutes of actual work, followed by 15 minutes of chaos (getting up to deliver work, put supplies aways, etc). 40-50 minutes of attention is a high school level expectation. Spare yourself the agony of defeat! Break it up and everything will be fine, you will still get the work in.

Renee

I was going to make this same suggestion ( with zero judgment!)..I’m an elementary teacher and agree that short spurts are best. Thank you for continuing the blog during this time! As one of the only blogs I still read, I really look forward to your posts! Xoxo

Rusty

Ex-teacher here … CORRECT. That’s too long.
Heaps of stuff online about age-related concentration spans.
Explainer = don’t push it uphill.

Christie J Priem

Speech-Language Pathologist here, specialist in early childhood communication development. A good general rule is one minute for each year old the child is up through kindergarten, then an additional 10 minutes per year of school.

Jeanine

Retired homeschooler of 25 years here, and I agree with all of the above. But good on Brian for trying! My advice – just read to them, play games, go outside, and enjoy this time. Make it a time that they will always remember as one of the best of their lives!

Kimberly

We have two daughters- a junior and a senior, so we have been valuing this time with them before they head off to college. It has been the silver lining during this horrible time. We are doing puzzles, paint by numbers, YouTube challenges and lots of cooking. And we’re fortunate to live across the street from a park so that we can get out with our dogs and also see people out when we’re not which makes us feel far less isolated. Also, we’re connecting much more with family and friends over FaceTime and Zoom including virtual book clubs. My husband of 20 years and I have had ups and downs in our relationship. For some reason, this time together with him has made us both feel so rock solid in one another. I know that we are very fortunate in this and I am incredibly grateful for that. We are trying to give back by giving blood, doing “Christmas in March” for people in service industries and running errands for at risk people in our neighbor.

Alyssa

This entire comment gives me ALL the feels, some chills and a few tears. It’s so hopeful and positive. You’re enjoying your children, taking care of your relationship and serving your community. As far as I’m concerned, you’re killing it both in attitude and in action. Thank you for helping me see some light today, I needed it. ❤️

Gabrielle

When circumstances get tougher people often need to learn to be more stoic, you do what needs to be done, you get calm, manage your emotions so you can focus on the task at hand. Often thinking of the consequences can help prevent them, by you choosing to do what is needed and therefore getting true comfort. Eg if facts are your company is bringing in 90%? of the funds to your household at the moment, and you mention the goal of financially surviving, then no brainer your partner looks after 90% of the rest so you can focus. If in situations they are really concerned about there company surviving that brings in the funds for shelter, food etc for the family unit, why would both parties not do this? If they don’t see the big picture and the choices they are making and need, want or a habit to vent, then good if they can do that themselves by themselves or find someone else to release to, instead of the one working on the finances. Then both partners can thank each other, not just the official worker thanking the partner. People are more resourceful than they often realize. If… Read more »

Laura

My husband works for FedEx, so he’s working really long hours right now. Which means that I’m home alone all day with our 8 year old daughter and I am so lonely! I’m struggling with wanting people to order stuff from businesses to help them survive this situation, but also wanting people to order nothing so my husband can come home.

Rita

My husband was also deemed an essential service where we live and I’m thankful he gets to keep working, so financially it isn’t as scary. But the hours are very long and I’m home with our 4yr old very lonely! So we’re lonely, but not alone. Sending love your way ❤

Ani

I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way, Laura! Being alone all day is really hard and I’m sure you’re doing a wonderful job. Your daughter is lucky to have you! Please pass on thanks to your husband too.

Lashley

My husband owns a coffee company. The retail cafes are closed, of course, but he’s trying to keep the company afloat and hopefully survive the next few months via mail order and grocery store sales. So, I’m home with our 3 and 5 year old boys (and 11 and 1 year old dogs) while he works more hours than usual (practicing distance and hygiene and all the rest) and is under immense stress. Glad to see there are others out there feeling “quarantine” stress and loneliness in a similar way. <3

Laura, that sounds so hard. It does feel very privileged to be able to stay in our homes and order things brought to our door versus going out ourselves (both my boyfriend and I are extremely lucky that we’re both able to do our jobs from home right now), but I also know that by staying indoors I’m hopefully making it safer out there for those who can’t stay indoors due to their financial situation or the fact that they have an essential job that requires them to be out in the world. A huge thank you to anyone working an essential job right now xx

Molly

Thank you for sharing your husband. We need the FedEx/UPS/USPS people so much right now!

K.A.

First time pregnant lady under lock down here. I am still working from home but my film industry husband has been temporarily out of work for a few weeks now as his industry has been shuttered for the lock down. As silly as it sounds, one of the biggest hurdles (besides, ya know, living off only my paycheck) has been overcoming the lack of my beloved Pok Pok spicy fish sauce wings -my only TRUE pregnancy craving!?! But hubby has stepped up his game and has attempted to recreate them for me. (Thank you Andy Ricker for your step by step cook book instructions!!!). We’ve been married for just under three years and have been busy busy busy with our own work schedules since day one but getting this time together at home has been really beneficial to our relationship. Since he is the house work manager now because he has more free time than I do (he used to work 10-12 hrs a day, vs my 8 hrs), he is able to recognize how hard I worked before and after work each day to keep our place looking good and I am able to see what a talented jack… Read more »

This may be an outlier story. We’ve been together 25 years and married for 20. I married my husband because he was the first person, in my life, who I could spend lots and lots and lots of time with and still really like. We both hail from emotionally challenging families and are instinctive introverts and respect personal space. We both work and work hard as parents and have always shared the burden. He’s essential right now —which means a lot more than 40 hours a week. Homeschooling/WFH/house upkeep falls disproportionately to me but he’s all hands on deck to help—whenever he’s not working.

Margaret

We had a breaking point mid week, but it was good to clear the air and we are doing okay. We just moved to a bigger house a few months ago and I’m super grateful we are not riding this out in our 900 sq ft house! Our seven year old is living her best life because she really hates going to school and begs us to homeschool her anyway. Our five year old really misses his preschool and his friends. I’m a teacher and have technically been on spring break, and don’t start teaching my classes via distance learning until 4/6. I am terrified for trying to work with my kids in the house.

Katy

Just wondering why they can’t go back to Julie’s place once in awhile…

I live with two roommates and one has an underlying health condition so we don’t want to run the risk of passing the virus unknowingly. xx

Emily K

I’m curious about that too. As long as they don’t introduce new people into the “circle”, I can’t imagine it would hurt anything.

Kiki

I was wondering this too…if she lives alone and is already exposed to his roommates, why not go back and forth? You’re not introducing any new people to the bubble. There must be something we’re missing. Lol

I live with 2 roommates and he lives with 3 roommates plus an additional 2 people that live downstairs but are friends with the roommates in his apartment. Two of his roommates are also fortunately still working in the food industry so they are being exposed to others while at work. There just isn’t a good way to monitor the amount of exposure to know for sure that I wouldn’t be bringing anything back to my place where my roommate is more susceptible. Hope that explains the situation a bit more. xx

Kate

That’s very thoughtful of you to prioritize the needs of a higher risk roommate! I’m glad to hear it’s working well this far, and it’s really nice to hear your perspective!

Thank you Kate, I appreciate your kind words. xx

Anonymous

My husband is a therapist and I am cake decorator, so he’s wfm and I’m just home. We have a small one bedroom so the day is basically us flip flopping rooms when he needs a more private setting for his phone sessions or a less bedroom situation for video chats. Did I mention our only bathroom is through the bedroom? So if he’s using that room, so I can be in the living room, I have a small window in between clients to use the restroom. Anyway, it’s working ok, I’m a busy bee so I’ve been deep cleaning and making most of the meals. I will say that I thought him wfm would mean I’d have more company, but most of the day I can’t talk to him so that can be a little isolating. But I just hang with my dog. This has given me perspective on what our next place should be, especially how great an outside space would be, even a porch or just somewhere to get some sun. We take a lot of walks with the pup.

Sara

This is great. So many interesting situations! My husband and I have been together for about 5.5 years and we have a 2.5 year old and an 11 month old. He started the rest of his paternity leave the week after sh*t hit the fan and we’ve been doing great! We joked that other than going to the gym our lives really haven’t changed that much. Because, let’s be honest, going anywhere with kids is just really a lot of work. Haha.

I am going to go ahead and attribute our success to the fact that both of us are just introverted enough to make this fine, and that we spent a significant amount of time with a life coach while we were engaged and during out first year of marriage due to high anxiety surrounding long term relationships.

ANYWAY, moral of the story is: we are doing fine for the moment! I wish everyone else luck. This is quite the moment in history we’re living through. May it change us all for the better.

Merry

Eve Rodsky’s Fair Play system has been ground breaking for us… she’s doing live video chats every day during this to help people survive this season with their relationships intact.

Kari

This time has made us very aware of our family’s dynamic – some good and some bad. We have 3 kids, ages 1,3, and 6, and both my husband and I can WFH. The thing that has been the hardest is losing our nanny for the time being. She lives with elderly grandparents, who we know and love. Even before mandated shutdowns, we told her we couldn’t have her over until this was through. I didn’t realize how essential our nanny was to our marriage – her care of the younger kids during working hours is the margin my husband and I need to feel like we get a break. Taking care of kids, homeschooling the oldest, WFH, housework…. it’s exhausting. We have fought and found ourselves annoyed. BUT! It is also very bonding for us at the end of the day. After the kids are in bed, we relax as hard as we do after a 40 hour work week. We love the lack of obligations in our schedule and find renewed relationship every evening. The other surprise in this time has been how easy homeschool has been for us (granted, our son is in kindergarten). Both my husband… Read more »

Lack of social obligations has been my silver lining – I’m getting to use my weekends to read, dig into hobbies I’ve missed, and work on our house. All of which are the first things to get pushed to the side when the weekends are filled with social obligations.

Lauren

Thought for Julie, can you take turns in your apartments? Weekdays at his, weekends at yours? If you’re not interacting with others can you go out? Our stay at home orders don’t restrict us from taking drives, visiting parks to walk or exercise, walking on sidewalks etc. I live in a far less dense area when it comes to population, so there’s that. But if you can, why not switch it up? Take a weekend “trip” to your apartment and do a project.

Lauren those are great ideas but I live with two roommates and one has an underlying health condition so we don’t want to run the risk of passing the virus unknowingly. So, if I were to go home then I’d have to stay there until this passes. We have taken some walks but the neighborhood we are in is quite busy with other people walking, as well as the parks. xx

Rusty

I read an article, that led to another and … the Internet!
Anyway, the statistics show that during times of confinement, even just more time together than usual (holidays), domestic abuse increases dramatically.
Domestic abuse is not only physical. It is also verbal and emotional abuse (financial, social…the list goes on).

The point that I hadn’t thought about at all, was that in existing cases of domestic abuse, if someone abuses alcohol, drugs or other substances, that person has more time to do that and the cycle increases exponentially.

It was a YIKES! series of articles to read. ?

I’m concerned that this topic (as innocent as it is) may trigger things for those suffering being locked down with their abuser. It’s quite shocking to read the statistics. These (vast majority) women have nowhere to go. The refuges are already full. They are trapped, some with their children, and it breaks my heart.

Off topic, or is it? I dunno. It really moved me.

isabelle

Agreed. If anyone needs it, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They also have an online chat option on their website: https://www.thehotline.org/help/

The Trevor Project also has some tips for LGBTQ+ people who are quarantined with people who are denying their identity:
https://www.them.us/story/9-strategies-for-quarantining-in-a-non-lgbtq-accepting-environment

Sending a lot of love to anyone stuck with an abuser, whether it be physical or emotional, parent or partner.

Rusty

… or child, even.

Lisa

Agreed. I saw that article yesterday and thought how the combo of being cooped up, potential unemployment, kids, and general stress, mixed with alcohol could really ramp up destructive behavior. -Yikes.

Hi Rusty, you bring up a very good point. It’s important to remember that not everyone feels safer being quarantined in their homes during this time. Thank you Isabelle for your links xx

Chelsea B

My fiance and I are thanking our lucky stars we moved to a new apartment a month ago, which meant leaving our nightmare roommate behind. Can’t imagine being stuck with him all day!

Our typical weekday/weekend schedules are usually so disparate (he works late, I work early, we only have one day off together) so it’s been such a treat so far. Just trying to enjoy this extra time together as much as possible! We both still have our jobs and are working from home (normal for me, not for him) so things haven’t had a chance to get boring yet.

But we’re both writers on the side and he makes music too so we have some neglected creative projects to channel our extra energy into when there’s nothing left to binge on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon/AppleTV/HBO/Criterion…clearly we have too many streaming services.

Emily R

I’m a SAHM, and my husband has been working from home full time for about 2 weeks now. I keep seeing all over blogs/social media people saying that now the spouses see what all the stay at home parents do all day and have more respect for their partner. But last night my husband just said the opposite. That after being at home for 2 weeks and seeing how my days go, he’s feeling judgemental about how much gets done. He is annoyed I don’t do more (cleaning, projects, schooling the almost-2 & almost-4yo, etc). It was frustrating and upsetting. Overall we are doing fine, but I’m feeling pressure, and as a result, anxiety, to constantly keep busy and do all the things. ?

patricia blaettler

When the kids are little, just interacting with them for 12 hours a day can be exhausting both mentally and physically. The constant talking, questioning, needs, and EMOTIONS.
Cut yourself some slack, he just doesn’t get it. But all the mommas definitely do.

Rusty

Sending you love from Australia.

Things others say to or about us are only true if we believe them.

Know your own internal truth and say positive affirmations to yourself about what a good job you’re doing.

xxx

miranda

That is not fair of him to say. He is clearly too involved in trying to get his own work done that he may be tuning out the emotional & physical energy (as patricia mentioned) that goes into caring for such young kids!

Only from the outside, I imagine he may be channelling some of his own anxiety and fear into the wrong source: you. When I first started working from home last week, I was super worried that my employer would still value me. You feel like you need to give 200%. He may be feeling the same way.

Hang in there. When it feels right, I hope you two can talk about how that made you feel. <3

Renza

Pardon my French, but your husband is being a real asshole. Caring for toddlers is exhausting and all-encompassing (I have 3 year old twins who stopped napping a few months ago). Even though they can play together for a long time on a good day (and fight endlessly on the bad days), needing to be constantly aware of what they’re doing and hopefully actually spending quality time with them makes it difficult to get much done during the day. Also, an almost 2 and almost 4 year old doesn’t need “schooling.” Kids learn by playing and you can teach in all sorts of ways. Alright, off my soapbox now.

Katie

Just wanted to chime in and say you’re not alone. I’m feeling the same frustrations and anxieties due to similar situations. I’m a SAHM and my husband has been working from home for the past two weeks, but we only have one toddler. Man, she is at least a full time job on a well behaved, good napped day. Hang in there. You’ve got people out here and we feel you. We see how much you’re doing, because we are in the thick of it (not being recognized) too.

Linda

I’m very lucky, I’m a healthcare worker that can work from home. I’m allowed to use childcare services so I can actually get work done. Our six year old son has a babysitter for 3 hours in the morning and he goes to a friend’s house 4 hours in the afternoon during the week. I’m know, very lucky. All parties involved in this situation have also agreed only see each other to minimize any possible exposure.

My husband and I had a very rough past two years. After ten years of marriage and 16 years total together in January, we had a serious conversation about do we stick together or let each other go. We decided to stick together. So far it has been going great. We feel very connected and this situation is making us slow down, cook together and realize we have a lot of love for each other. I feel very fortunate to have this time together.

I worry more about the women/men/children who are stuck together constantly during this trying times. I can only imagine how difficult and scary this time must be.

C

My husband of 9 years is a doctor, so he’s working long hours as usual. I was staying at home with our young kids so my day to day hasn’t changed drastically it’s just gotten really lonely. I’m admittedly very jealous of friends who’s previously busy spouses are now working from home. I stress about the germs he’s bringing home with him and feel very cut off from my friends. I wish we were “in this together” but it just doesn’t feel that way. I recognize my extreme privilege and feel guilty for not being more grateful. It’s just a complex mix of emotions constantly swirling around my very lonely mind.

Loved the article though and the comments xox

Maria

My husband and I are both physicians. However my office cut down on 95% of our visits and I found myself suddenly at home pretty much all day every day with our 3 year old with no childcare, while my husband works 80 hours a week in the hospital. Not gonna lie- I’m exhausted. I would kill to have another human in the house to get a break from time to time.

Our 3 year old is super active, extroverted, and demanding and the constant tantrums are starting to get to me. I always knew stay at home parents have the hardest job in the whole world and now that’s become even more clear. Here’s to hoping it all gets better soon.

It’s funny I feel like a month ago my husband of 6 years was driving me crazy but since sheltering in place I’ve really appreciated him. His calm and often humorous outlook is really comforting. I’m reminded of the first few months after our daughter (now 3) was born. My daughter incidentally is living her best life. Her vocabulary has improved and she’s going on longer walks then we could previously get her to do. I’m not saying there haven’t been scary moments but do definitely see some silver linings.

Suzanne

I feel grateful that the two people (my husband and teenager) I’m sheltering at home with are the people I most want to spend time with. As a SAHM, my life is pretty similar. My husband is able to work at home, for which I’m thankful, because we are not facing the financial hardship so many are due to business closures and layoffs, including some friends and family. However, we are not immune to anxiety, and I’ve found it’s essential to get outside everyday, whether by spending time in the garden or by taking a neighborhood walk. My daughter is at a public school that doesn’t have funds to insure all students have technology for online lessons, so anything the school district provides is optional. This has made it difficult to find motivation to do much, but we are both starting schedule our days and build more structure. I think building structure in the day is important for couples, too, just to set up expectations of how your going to spend time together, how you are going to make space for each other, and how you are going to work together to maintain the household. Everything is changed, so we… Read more »

Margaret

Wondering if Airbnb is an option for Julie and her BF? Airbnbs are empty right now (we own 2) and lots of owners are willing to give huge discounts. I own a studio guesthouse in Pasadena and a cabin in the mountains– both currently rented at a massive discount. I’m happy to help you find something if you’re interested.

Margaret

Also, wanted to add…a question for Emily. So we own a cabin in Green Valley Lake. Our current guests are checking out on Sunday and we are thinking about holing up there for a bit if things get bad here. But my main concern is that (and I’m embarrassed to admit this) the mountains are so cold right now. Going outside to play would require so much work for the kids, whereas now, they can just run outside in their PJs. We also do takeout like once or twice a week and there aren’t many options in the mountains. Am I overthinking this?

Christene

Yes, you really are. ? go!

Rae

No! Don’t go. Leaving urban areas with adequate healthcare options and grocery stores for rural areas underserved medically puts that rural area at great risk. You may bring the virus with you. You certainly will strain the ability to properly feed and serve the usual population.

Sarah

I couldn’t agree more. Please don’t go. From someone who lives in a small resort town that can quadruple in size on weekends and holidays, our hospital only has 37 beds and our grocery store can’t handle the extra traffic. We aren’t setup for all the second homeowners to shelter here, now is the time to stay at your primary residence. Please.

Cindy

John and I have started spending time together at the end of the day (long before bedtime, so we’re not exhausted), just the two of us, no kids. For our situation, this means going out in the backyard and lying in the Eno. It always seems like work to make that connection happen–haven’t we been together all day?!–but using that time to talk in private and really SEE each other and decompress together has been vital.

Also, an easy but time-proven marriage tip for times of stress: make sure you laugh at each other’s jokes.

Carly

My husband and I were separated after 25 years of marriage for 6 months prior to the quarantine. He moved back in before stay at home orders were mandated so he could see our youngest child still living in our home. It’s been tough. We dropped our oldest son off at boot camp just two weeks ago. Two days after, my husband told me he was filing for divorce when the pandemic lifts. Extremely bad timing considering we are being quarantined together. He is considered an essential worker so thankfully we get a reprieve during the day but it has been very difficult. I homeschooled all 3 of my children so our schooling has not changed. My main focus has been to try and create a loving and supportive environment for my son in spite of the marital issues within the home. Wishing you all health and safety.

Cami

That is really tough. My heart breaks for you and your family. Like tears and all, seriously. So sorry you are going through that. Virtual hugs

Rusty

DeniseGK

Carly, that is just awful. I’m so sorry this is happening to you at all – but especially now. I hope you won’t mind, but I’ll be hoping and praying that somehow your husband changes his mind and you two start feeling in love and happy with each other happy again. And that you would be able to heal from the great hurt he caused you.

Roberta Davis

We have been married for 30 1/2 years, we’re retired, and we’re both introverts. Our life has not changed much except for 2 things. We usually go out for lunch every single day, and I usually go to the grocery store 6 days a week (main driver- pick up a newspaper and do 7-8 puzzles in it). Oh- and yoga class is now at home with an audio rather than in studio. I have gone to the store 3 times in the past 2+ weeks. I stocked up on a lot, so I go for fresh things like fruit and veggies. We probably spend less time “together” now than we did when we went out to lunch every day. He is on the desktop in the 2nd floor loft; I am on the laptop in the 1st floor dining room. We can hear each other. Or I may be in the family room or small “attic” room with a skylight, where it’s warmer. The house is big enough for separation, and we have a fenced backyard and a quiet, uncrowded suburban neighborhood. I have watched a few of those movies we were all discussing the other day! The schedule has… Read more »

sharon gabby

I feel very happy to share my great and wonderful testimony with everyone on this platform..: I was married for 7 years to my husband and all of a sudden another woman came into the picture he started hating me and he was abusive and all because i never bear him a child. but i still loved him with all my heart and wanted him at all cost…. He filed for divorce and my whole life was turning apart and i didn’t know what to do, he moved out of the house and abandoned me all alone,one day a very close friend of mine told me about trying spiritual means to get my husband back,so i went online to search and i came across so many spell caster who only wasted my time and took a lot of money from me,but i went back to her and told her that spiritual way has only taking my money and not yielding anything, and she introduced me to a spell caster, Dr gbojie, so i decided to try it. although i didn’t believe in all those things because of what i have gone through lately, i contacted Dr gbojie  and he  explain all my problems to him and he told me that i… Read more »

Franziska

So we have just returned to Switzerland from a 8 months holiday in Tuscany (Italy), where we spent most of our time just the 4 of us as a family.
I started working again in March and it felt really weired beeing away so much.
So for me – it is sort of back to the Italy vibe (ok there is this thing called work from home with 2 kids 2 and 4 years) and I don’t mind it at all. We are all quite used to it by now – the one thing I would say: allow everyone to get used to the situation in their own time- this might take some longer than others. For me it was very difficult to calm down, let go of the feeling that i have to manage it all. Just take it day by day. But once you get there, i find it to be liberating.

My husband is an RN who has been assigned to work on a Covid designated floor in his hospital just North of Seattle (his hospital is actually where the first Covid case showed up). They don’t have enough proper safety equipment. So his already stressful job has just become actually dangerous. Until his re-assignment, our sheltering in place wasn’t that much different than our normal routine. He works 3- 12 hour shifts a week (currently, that may change as needs ramp up) and I am an artist working from my home studio. As things worsen though, anxiety for both of us increases, but we work hard to be mindful of the effect our anxious moods have on each other. There may come a time when he has to self-isolate in our home for fear that he is bringing the virus home with him (more chance of this as access to necessary protective equipment dwindles). He is already talking about it and I am dreading it, if it comes to pass. For him to be here but us isolated from each other would be so lonely. But we’re trying to take this one day at a time. Long neighborhood walks, watching… Read more »

Christene

Thank you, thank you, thank you to you and your husband. Stay strong!

Sarah

12 year relationship here and we figured out quickly that ongoing jokes to relieve the tension are super helpful. I am (playfully) keeping a list of the silliest quarantine arguments, and one of us saying that a discussion is in danger of “making the list” is usually enough to make us laugh and move on. We are both working from home and also have created a fake coworker who we blame for the things the other does that annoy us- leaving dirty dishes, noise, etc. Loudly chastising the fake coworker gets a laugh and allows the other person to change their behavior without being attacked head on ?

Jenn

This is the cutest thing I’ve read in a long time

Rusty

I love this approach. Great strategies.

Hi! I am a 43 year old interior architect and designer, with a business running, social media to maintain (for the sake of Marketing)and clients that keep expecting our team to work on their projects and meet datelines (which we are trying to do). I am also a wife with a 22 year marriage and a wonderful husband, who was also my best friend when teens and my only boyfriend I had ever! But here comes the highlight: we have 5 kids! I’m happy to say that our journey at this new normal, which also started 15 days ago has been mostly fine. We have found a way to work from our computers without interrupting each other and a way of making this time meaningful. I cannot lie, as tiring as it can be having 5 kids, they make our routine so much more fun. We are expecting g the final decisión notifications so my 18 year old can choose which university to attend this fall, it has been a shared waiting period which makes it so much easier for him. We have also been trying to teach them the gift of creativity. During this quarantine what has saved us… Read more »

Lisa

My husband and I have been married for 4 years and we’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year. This extra time together is wonderful but can be challenging. It has made the gap between us and those who have kids so much greater. That has put a ton of pressure on us and is honestly the hardest part of this situation. Friends highlighting how much easier it is for us or wishing they had free time like we do makes it a lot worse. I wish people would be a little more sensitive to that- every comment from friends or even seeing it written in this article makes me sad. Not all of us without kids are that way by choice.

Tracy

This will sound insane but my husband and I met because I moved in to the house where he was also living. My husband was unemployed and I was new to the area with only a few connections (one of them being the mutual friend who got me into the house) so we spent a ton of time together due to our schedules (or lack thereof) and forced proximity. I was only supposed to be there for a week while my new apartnent was being finished and it ended up taking the complex a month. By the time I moved out, he just came with me, and we have been together ever since. The insanity part is how often I recommend that level of intensity right off the bat to people because it can be such a crucible for a new relationship. Living together forced us to learn so much about each other so fast–things that can take time to find out when you’re dating the “normal” way but that ultimately end up being deal-breakers. The difference was we had a few weeks to learn it instead of the months or sometimes years you normally spend feeling each other out… Read more »

Natalie

I filed for divorce months ago, we have been like 2 ships passing in the night for years and have never spent this much time together ever. It was to be our last big family trip with kids and close friends to Disney, and it has turned into 2 weeks in lockdown in our 1400 sq ft house. The experience has definitely affirmed for me that I am on the right path, but has also helped renew some of my respect for him (as a dad) that I had lost.

Rusty

Wow. There’s some confirmation there.
Hoping it flows as smoothly as it can.

Sarah

Oh my gosh I appreciate my fiance SO much more now that I have insight into his life (he has worked from home for 2 years, whereas I am a graduate student, always on campus). We are communicating better than ever, & are giving one another the SPACE we have always needed (now that we see one another all day, I don’t feel obligated to get home and dive in to how his day was immediately upon arriving. Now it is just… Peaceful. Fluid. We check in when it feels needed.)
We are VERY fortunate – in almost every way, quarantining suits our current lives incredibly easily – so I cannot speak on how this time would be if we were in a different position. But as it stands, we are good. Better than ever. Will our wedding get cancelled? Idk. Maybe. But we’ll cross that bridge when it gets here! Otherwise, I will continue letting my heart burst open with newfound tenderness and understanding for this hunk of love sleeping at my side. ❤️

PT

I have worked from home for the past 2 years and, if I’m being honest, I was a tad uncertain what it was going to be like to have my husband home. All the time. 2 weeks in and I honestly enjoy it. Both being home is helping us have a routine throughout the day which encourages longer walks with our dog and a stop to the work day so we can make dinner and watch a Netflix show together. The joint, shared, agreed upon routine is probably the most helpful thing. Not to mention how great it is to have someone break up a tough day with a little silliness because we are both feeling the challenges of this “new normal” (I hate that term). We are both home bodies and enjoy spending time together. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather quarantine with than my husband. But we both also recognize the need for some solo time to read, connect with friends (Saturday morning FaceTime with my bestie are amazing!) or pursue a hobby on our own. It doesn’t have to be 100% us time. Just…75% maybe. I sort of wish he could wfh more often when all… Read more »

Lisa

My husband began working for himself as a landlord before we met by living very frugally (a bed in his wood shop) and fixing up older homes into rentals. I love his spaces because they all have character and he encourages people to paint, have a pet, and make it their home. We have a 3 yr old and try to live simply and sustainably. I’m a former teacher turned toddler wrangler. Most of the year we live in a little cabin on well water with wood heat, but in the winter/spring we switch to our cottage in my hometown on another island and my husband rotates between. We made the choice to come to the cabin early this year so we can all be together. In 24 hrs I depersonalized the cottage, packed items in the owners closet (my art studio), left keys for the incoming renter, and we made it to our cabin treehouse. Well lines are still frozen and it took a few days to get the gas stove going, but here we are, isolating in the woods now far from town in less than 300 sq. feet. I flip between mad cleaning and caring less, collecting… Read more »

Nuala Raftery

Fourteen or so years ago my husband and I spent a year together in our cottage in a forest, where I am now self isolating. He was an archaeologist and was writing a book. We rarely saw anyone and our daughters could only visit from the city occasionally. It was one of the happiest times of my life and now, when I think if I could go back in time, that is the time I’d return to. I realise it’s not quite the same as today’s circumstances but it did demonstrate how we could survive together in isolation.

I’m super happy to see you’re writing about relationships. Me and my guy have been together 4 months and as the quarantine got closer he told me he’d like me to stay with him during this time. I had just found out as a hair stylist I couldn’t work and was a bit worried being alone and away from him. He has a fantastic home and I gladly excepted on a few agreements. Lots of communication. I needed a studio space for my macrame. With the growing anxiety and being in someone else’s home I asked if it was ok to tidy things as it really helps my anxiety and feeds me creatively. So far we keep a journal, have date nights and call our selves “quaranteam”. We go to bed and wake up happy and acknowledge it daily. I’m honestly grateful for this time together.

Laura

My wife left me a few weeks before the quarantine started, so I’ve been alone in my apartment for two weeks. It’s a shocking adjustment, to go from having someone around all the time to being completely alone. Let’s just say, as soon as this is over, I’m getting a dog for companionship.

Rebecca

Hi, EHD team!! LOVING your shares! But now for the MOST IMPORTANT question — where are Emily’s shirt and jeans from on the top picture?? Her fashion gives me LIFE! <3

Sarah Quine

My husband and I have worked together at the same small charter school for 13 years. At work, we can hear each other’s voices at any point throughout the day. So we’re used to spending a ton of time together. We don’t have kids so I can’t really help there. Although I totally echo what the other teachers have said – don’t take school too seriously right now. Remember this is just a VERY small piece of their total educational journey. Just spend time together. If kids are crying/fighting they aren’t learning. That goes for high schoolers too (they’re my jam). We make it work by ensuring that we spend time apart every day and time together every day (not working). We live near Lake Tahoe so we’re lucky that we have lots of open space to enjoy. He’ll go out for a ski (we got 5 feet of snow the while the state was going into lock-down, it felt like the apocalypse!) and I’ll work out at home. Could I go for a ski with him? Of course. But then we’d be doing every. single. thing. together. and we’ve learned over the years that that’s just not a good… Read more »

Dena

I resonate with everything you just said!! We have one daughter and include her in using the Calm app!

My husband and I moved from CA to the UK almost 5 years ago. The move was difficult, but it was a bonding experience and forced us work through a lot of things in our relationship, so it’s definitely paying off now! Isolating together has it’s challenges, but none of them surprising (so far). I get cabin fever if I don’t leave the house everyday and I’m pretty restless – anxiety cleaning the whole house. It annoys him but he already knew this about me. Luckily he was already wfh 90% of the time, and does a lot around the house like all the cooking, so I feel we make a good team. The hardest part about all of this is we’re expecting our first baby in May, and I worry he won’t be able to attend the birth if hospital restrictions keep tightening.

Kate

This isn’t quite what you asked, but this time has turned into a real disappointment for me. I was seeing someone and it was new but felt extremely promising and secure. All was going really well, and then he lost his beloved gym time and his job (for now) within a few days. I’m “life sustaining” according to our state, so I’m still going to work. We had a weird day together right after that where he seemed distant and critical, and then I got the dreaded “I’m not feeling the same spark anymore” a day later. I’m making my own new routine with workouts and walks outside, and I’m feeling pretty happy. I’m giving him time and space and hoping he’ll reach out eventually because I strongly feel this is more about stress than about us. I miss him though, especially in this time of isolation.

J.

I loved this post– thank you both for sharing!!! Emily, I always love when you share about your relationship with Brian over my last ~8+ years of reading the blog (and the posts he’s authored over the years are also hands-down some of the most hysterical and memorable for me!) I’m on day 18 of full, 100% quarantine with seven other people, ranging from age 18 to 55 – basically one family and the add-ons (significant others and close friends!) – we are incredibly lucky to be in a family home with space vs. my minuscule apartment where I live alone. One thing that we did with part of this group on an early day (3? 4?) was sit down in a calm, quiet, happy moment (sitting outside with a glass of wine) and discuss “Asks & Commitments.” It’s something I had done once with a group of friends before a long travel trip together at the advice of my therapist, with the thought being that if you can talk about specific things that might annoy, bother, or hurt you in this bizarre, temporary circumstance (in that case, it was the long trip!), you can refer back to them and… Read more »

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