Parenting During Self-Isolation Means I Haven't Seen My Husband in Weeks, and I Hate It
The lockdown and social distancing measures due to COVID-19 have caused people to miss certain things in their lives. From a favorite meal at their go-to restaurant to seeing their friends at their normal barre class, the change from people's normal lives have made them long for the familiar. The one thing that I miss from my pre-COVID life is not the pedicures or the happy hours — what I miss the most is my husband.
This came as a surprise to me. Neither one of us are front-line workers. We live in the same home and have a good marriage. But when everything shut down, our marriage seemed to shut down as well. With the shutdown, both of our incomes that we generate from our respective small businesses took a nosedive. Our daughter was no longer going to school and we were told to homeschool her with very little warning. Our babysitters and family were not coming into our home to help out due to social distancing measures, so we could not lean on our village.
We chose to keep working as much as we could. Some may feel that we were prioritizing money over connecting with our family, but if we didn't continue to try and generate a decent income, employees would need to be let go. My husband has a staff and many of them depend on their paychecks to be able to feed their own children. Additionally, our bills did not decrease even though our income decreased. In other words, slowing down to connect was not an option for us.
We chose to prioritize our daughter's learning over tons of screen time. If our daughter watches too much TV, she gets cranky. She needs to be stimulated and she's too young to manage her lessons on her own. She needs one of us to guide her and encourage her. This takes a lot of time and commitment out of our day. On top of that we decided not let the cleanliness of our home go to the wayside. Both of us like a tidy environment and we both get flustered when things are not in their place. Keeping a tidy home takes effort and time out of our day, but it is important for our mental well-being.
But the thing is, there are only so many hours in the day, and something had to give. What gave is my time with my husband. The way we have been managing our lives is by working in "shifts." While one of us is working, the other is either cleaning, cooking, or being with our daughter. Then we swap spots. We even sleep in shifts — he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to start his day and I go to bed at midnight. We are like two ships passing through the night, simply trying to keep the wheels in motion.
We love each other and get along fine, but our relationship has certainly changed. We communicate (sometimes through email or text) and are kind to each other. But there is no romance, no fun, no real connection. This situation has made us more like co-workers than husband and wife. And although I physically see him every day, I miss my husband.
I am grateful for many things in our life right now. We are all healthy, we have food on the table, my husband and I both have jobs, we have not let any of his employees go, and our daughter appears to be doing just fine in her new normal. I thank my lucky stars for all of our blessings. But I am also allowed to be a little sad that I am not getting the couple time that I normally look forward to at the end of a long day, or on an early Sunday morning before my daughter wakes up. Little things like relaxing on the couch or laughing over a cup of coffee have not been a part of our lives since our lives changed. There's no resentment between us because we are both doing all that we can right now, but I also know that this is not sustainable for a relationship.
Starting this weekend, we are designating every Sunday as date night. Once our daughter has gone to bed, we are making a nice dinner and cracking open a bottle of wine at home. We both have very little time to spare, but if our marriage implodes that will not be good for anybody. This time in our lives is challenging, but finding small ways to at least attempt to bring in a small bit of balance can hopefully go a long way.