Corona :: A Virus to Your Marriage

These last 7 weeks have forced so many changes upon us. But, with the cities basically shut down, events cancelled indefinitely, and families forced to stay home, we are busier than ever, ironically. My husband and I have jobs, thankfully, that allow us to work from home. {Cool, so I’ll just work in my PJs, no biggie.} But, what really threw a monkey wrench into our work-from-home plans, was the kids needing homeschooling as well. This seemed to be an impossible fete. Ok, so I can still stay in my pjs, but now I’m scheduling conference calls between shape sorting and coloring. I’m replying to work emails on nature walks. I’m preparing dinner and tomorrow’s lessons at the same time. I’m squeezing laundry in during nap-times, and I’m sleeping, basically, never. I’ve barely managed to keep up with all of my to-do lists (both for home and work) during this quarantine, but one thing seemed to constantly find no place on any list  – my husband.

My husband has a pretty demanding job which means he can’t help out much with the kids during the day, and that’s fine. It’s a challenge, but one I can respect and totally accept. After all, he’s the bread-winner. He also can’t be interrupted too much by the kids’ loud and obnoxious 7-weeks-worth-of-anxiety-pent-up shenanigans, so he locks himself away in his office all day long and comes out briefly for lunch and bathroom breaks. But, let’s be real. With 4 kids home 24/7, no door is thick enough, and no earbuds strong enough — he still struggles with productivity and focus. So, once the kids go down, he really gets into work-mode and will work well into a night shift that doesn’t allow him to get into bed until 2-3am. My job is a bit more flexible in that I can tend to the kids during the day and just do most of my work late at night as well. However, once I put the kids down, I’m usually working a late night shift myself. So, I pretty much don’t see my husband again until the next morning – and it’s a brief passing by in the hallway as he heads into his morning conference call, and I’m gathering all of the supplies to begin the school day.

Hello and Goodbye — nice chat.

Now, before anyone starts criticizing that my husband puts work before family, let me state for the record that none of this is his fault. And, it’s not mine either. We want to spend time together. It’s just the unfortunate reality that is a stay-at-home order with 4 very young kids to constantly tend to. And, because of that, we don’t get to go to bed together; we don’t get to share much about our days; we talk more through text than we do in person. We’re so distant, yet we’re trapped indoors together. When can we talk? When can we check in with one another? When can we work on baby number 5?! All very real and necessary moments that this virus has stripped from our marriage.

I didn’t even realize it at first.

When my husband asked me, one night, if I thought we were growing apart during all of this, my immediate reaction was a simple, “Psshht, it’s just temporary. We’ll be fine.” But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it had already be 7 whole weeks of distance (pun intended). What if this lasts months longer? I knew something had to change then and there. We absolutely were growing apart. We never had the time to just talk about us. We were never able to relax and do something that didn’t revolve around the kids or work. Don’t get me wrong, our weekends were all about family fun – and the kids are thriving because of it. But on the inside of this relationship, we were slowly fading as a couple, and if this pandemic were to continue for several more weeks or, God forbid, months, it would be very difficult to come back from that…or to even survive it.

We needed to be alone and we needed it badly.

We deemed Saturday night our date nights. Typically, in our household, Friday nights were family movie nights (which lately have been reduced to just Mommy-and-the-kids movie nights because Daddy has to put in hours), and Saturday nights either consisted of family game night, zoom chats with family or friends, or more work. Enough was enough! Forget about everyone and everything else. We’re taking these nights back for us! The kids have plenty of fun-filled days that there is no guilt putting them down a little earlier for date night. And, friends and family can zoom chat us another time – our marriage comes first. We decided to make these nights our time to thrive as a couple, and it’s been working. Obviously, we can’t go anywhere, but having a list of at-home date nights has helped. The laughter we’ve had, the deep conversations, the smiling, the snuggling, has eased the stress of this quarantine. Saturday nights are now an anticipation, and a very necessary component to surviving this quarantine with as many little ones running amok as we have.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the dramatics of Covid-19, to drown in your work, or to use the kids as an excuse for pretty much anything. But, don’t forget about your better half through all of this. Work, school, and kids are all very important in a familial household, but none of it will work and succeed without the tenderness and support of your spouse. Keep the relationship alive and once all of this is over, you’ll be even stronger than before.

Jennifer Gonzales
Wife to my high school sweetheart, Ross, and mother to 4 children: Trip, Conner, McKenzie, and Piper, I am a born and raised Southern Louisiana Lady. I am a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy, received my Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Secondary Ed. from LSU followed by my Master’s of Education from UNO, and for the past 11 years, I have been outwitting high school boys as an English teacher at Holy Cross School. When I’m not grading papers, driving to baseball practices, or making grocery runs, I can be found cheering on my LSU Tigers, cutting up with my girlfriends, and crafting (I love a good project!). I’m all about sippin’ some wine during the sunset while the kiddos play in the yard and the hubby works the grill. I’m living my best mommy life these days and am always happy to share the journey with others!

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