It’s only officially been two weeks, but my husband and I are already on day 23 of self-isolation. That’s about 15 days longer than I imagined we could be face to face 24/7 without at least one unnecessary vase or ceramic object being thrown through the room. house with anger. We are good at isolating. After five business evenings of car launches, fashion previews, and a myriad of other professional events, my social mojo tank is nearly empty on the weekends. Two days of being cut off from the outside world, just us and our cats, is the ultimate respite – unless one of those launches calls for a sneak attack on Saturday. This voluntary lockdown had become our sanctuary.
But the game changes when the “volunteer” is taken out of the equation – and can last from 21 days to “some people now say July”. You no longer have an exit. We’re not a couple who fight a lot or go wild – but it’s always nice to have a choice. Except for a weekly brawl when we go shopping on Saturday afternoon, we are doing pretty well. We work in separate rooms, divide the chores (I cook and take care of our cats, he cleans and does the laundry), and we hang out when we can.
He hasn’t caught up with us yet. Maybe, as we move into day 30 or 45 of having nowhere to go and no one else to see, we’ll go from Midnight in Paris to Midnight with a little trigger – but from then on, we are doing. Sure, I miss the outside world, but I manage to be quite productive – I haven’t made dalgona coffee or painted a mason jar, but I work, read, and do all my work. He often joins me for a morning of Tabata or kickboxing and makes progress in his thesis. We both eat the same stuff (meat and carbs all the way) and love the same enough that we can use Netflix together. The greatest luxury, however, is that I really like my partner’s business.
“Hey, if you cannot spend 21 days with the person you married, there’s something wrong with this photo, isn’t there?” he shrugs his shoulders, once I ask him if he’s really as happy as he looks. “We have fun each other, the little moments. We haven’t watched a single show or movie because we cook and relax with Bodhi. Paying attention to each other helps; if i’m tired, Andrea will hang out with Bodhi. If she features a work call, I’ll take over. We remind ourselves that we are here forever and that the little things don’t stress us out. ”
When we hang up, I’m tempted to conclude that being locked up with a spouse is ideal; until I change my goal. First of all, I have the knowledge of myself working on my behalf – both with my partner, with my house and with my entourage – quite a different situation than a friend who has just moved from Delhi to Vietnam with her husband for exactly one month. “We’re still within the honeymoon phase, so we do lots of good things together,” she tells me. “We work, walk by the river and attend romantic dates twice every week . But I should also give an account of the luxury of the space. We can choose to spend time apart whenever we need to – not sure if things would be the same if we were in a small studio.”
However, neither she nor I have the kids or in-laws addenda to deal with, however, a PR friend might point this out in our discussion – if she wasn’t too tactful to do so. With two boys [aged 12 and 9] and his in-laws living one floor down, it’s time to take steroids as a family right now, but “I think activities really play a role for us. “, she says. “My boys draw and take guitar lessons online. The whole family [including the in-laws] eat all meals together, and my husband and I spend time alone gardening or cooking dinner together. “I ask her if they have separate ‘date nights’, but she says time works differently when you have kids.” We treat this like an extended summer vacation, so we leave them Netflix late and sleep. Sometimes we have to gently throw our youngest out of bed and tell him to go to sleep in his room, but we need that time for ourselves.”
A journalist I once met on a work trip, however, has a different outlook. He responds to an Instagram story from my husband reading with our cat saying, “Glad you were having fun, but it’s not always that cute.” I agree – no one posts their grocery store fights on social media – but where did it come from? “Well, when you’ve been married for 17 years, the luster fades,” he says, very neutral. I report (a little on the defensive) that I’ve been living with my husband for almost a decade, but he laughs. “It’s not the same. We’re not putting on a show for the world. We don’t have time. We’re in planning mode – discussing finances (our savings have taken a hit), fundraising. “Our daughter’s college and how to cut spending. That will make a difference and the planning gives both of us a sense of security.”
But I’m not yet ready to face the apocalypse with its no-frills POS. Forties are already throwing a thousand jackknives per minute to test our marriages – even more if you have kids or in-laws in the mix. Fighting the urge to break is a daily struggle. Tiptoeing around each other’s borders is another. And then, if there’s time, we can do our best to be #RelationshipGoals. Distractions are great – and I load up on them every day – but finding a rhythm is the part that matters. The pressure to bond can be exacerbated by social media, but the pressure to keep them together is the real load that must be faced. For now, let’s try to get out of here without our lives turning into a bad reboot of The Shining, shall we?