Tales From Lockdown: ‘We Were Put to the Test Right Away’

Here, seven women on how pandemic life has affected their relationships.

How are our relationships fairing during Covid? We reached out to women across Canada to find out. Gender roles, workloads and stress were commonly discussed topics, but there were also some unexpected silver linings coming out of pandemic life. Here, seven women spill the beans. (*Names have been changed to protect privacy.)

Breanne,* 40
“I work for a big company and my husband is self-employed; his work shut down right away. So he ended up being the primary caregiver for our daughter, which was a totally different experience for him. I remember at one point he told me, ‘This is really hard,’ and I said, ‘Yes I remember, I did it for 11 months on mat leave.’ And he said, ‘No this is definitely harder for me.’

I felt like my role as a mom for that year on mat leave was really minimized, and it was so insulting to me. But because the quarantine had been so rough in terms of our relationship, I just said ‘That was rude’. He didn’t agree, and I just kind of shoved it down and let it boil under the surface. It’s created a lot of tension.”

It’s also been really difficult to constantly be around each other and not have any privacy or alone time. In the past, we’ve benefitted from independent time. Our romantic life has not been good. I talked to someone from the office who told me they were pregnant and I thought, who is having sex right now?

(Related: ‘It’s Just One Thing After Another’: Can Our Relationships Survive Covid-19?)

He’s back at work now, and my daughter is back at daycare, so finally I have a little bit of alone time. The first day they were both out of the house I turned on some music really loud and danced around for about 45 minutes just out of the pure joy of being alone and by myself.

My mother passed away at the beginning of March and it added this extra layer of complication. I started to go to therapy, and my therapist said, all of this pandemic is about loss. Everyone has lost something. If they haven’t lost a loved one, God forbid, they’ve lost freedom, they’ve lost so many different other things. So I do think it’s going to have a lasting effect.

I do think we’ll end up going to couples therapy because I do tend to shove feelings down, and so I don’t think our communication is great. I think it’s definitely something we’re going to have to do to put us in an ideal place.

Having more time together, now that we are a bit less stressed, might help. And we’re really enjoying some extra time with our daughter. That also helps.  And then there’s therapy that’s going to help with the rest.”

covid-microscopeIllustration by Gracia Lam

(Related: Covid Couples Therapy: Expert Tips on How to Talk About the Tough Stuff)

Tracy,* 49
“I was definitely the one asking, did you wipe this down, did you wash your hands, did you wash them for long enough… I’d be in the other room and find myself paying attention to how long the tap was on. Like I had some kind of super bat hearing all of a sudden. Who wants to live with that? No one. But at the start, I felt like if I wasn’t doing this and someone got sick, then it was on me.”

Jennifer,* 28
“My husband and I had planned an epic two-week honeymoon to South Africa for mid-May. Then COVID hit, I was temporarily laid off, and we had to cancel our trip. Still, we felt optimistic as we decided to use this time to try and have a baby. We conceived and were thrilled, but I miscarried at six weeks. Losing a job, isolating in a small condo, cancelling a big event that we’d been looking forward to and going through a miscarriage—it’s a lot. When you marry someone, you hope they’re going to be there for you through all the ups and downs. For us, we were put to that test right away, and we’ve come through the tumultuous months as stronger partners.”

Alex,* 43
“My husband lost his brother very suddenly about a year ago. They were best friends. It took some time to get over the shock, but then he was kind of right back into his normal pace of life. When Covid hit, and the fears and uncertainty that it brought, it forced him to process a lot of those humungous heavy emotions. Then everything came to a grinding halt, and all of a sudden there was a chance for him to process it. It allowed him to finally mourn.”

(Related: Our Blended Family Got Off To a Rocky Start Thanks to Covid-19. Here’s How We Managed)

Gayle,* 49
“A few years ago I was in a car accident that left me with a spinal injury and complications from a concussion. Covid-19 has impacted my rest, recuperation and therapy, really my whole ongoing rehabilitation, which leaves me frustrated, anxious and angry. … My husband doesn’t show stress. Normally, that’s part of what I love about him. But these aren’t normal times. I get flustered by his nonchalance.”

Genevieve*, 37
“My partner left his job at a grocery store to take care of our 2 year old daughter when daycare shut down, but he seemed incapable of keeping her entertained for more than an hour and she would constantly interrupt me even though I was the only one working. He became obsessed with the news cycle and social media. I kept feeling like: ‘When are you coming back to us?’ ”

June,* 58
“I think lockdown actually improved our marriage. We are both very busy and have our own hobbies, but we weren’t spending that much time together. He had to cut all his activities and with no sports on tv, we’d watch a movie together instead, or take a walk. We’ve been quite happy.”

Now that you’ve read about other women’s relationships in the pandemic, learn how isolation affects seniors living at home.

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