Due to COVID-19, my husband and I are at home a lot more these days. All that togetherness has given me time to reflect on how my husband and I manage change over time.
Of course, marriage created modifications in my lifestyle right from the start. Following in my mother’s footsteps, I felt responsible for having a home-cooked meal on the table each night. The house always needed to be clean enough for company. At least that is the standard I set for myself.
Early in our marriage I traveled all week for work. That left the weekends to do things. I suggested to my husband that I could cook for the week, or clean, but doing both would leave me no free time for us to enjoy together. He asked me which I preferred to do, and I said cooking.
And since he enjoyed my cooking, he agreed. I was thinking he would offer to clean, but he told me he was going to “outsource” the job and he had a great idea for someone to clean our house.
It turned out to be his mother. In fairness, his mother did clean houses for a living, but still. What had I gotten myself into?
My mother-in-law cleaned our house for one year. This was not my first-choice solution, but we both made sure she was the most well-paid and cared for cleaning lady imaginable.
Later, technology entered the picture and brought about more change. My husband is a finance guy, so doing our family finances was right in his wheelhouse.
In the first few months of our marriage, he bought a new software program called Quicken to track our household expenses. Then he asked me to account for every ATM withdrawal and write down how I spent the money.
While I rattled off purchases like morning coffee, lunch at the diner and highway tolls, that was not enough. He wanted a full accounting. I did such a bad job of documenting that my husband finally relented, and how I spent my ATM withdrawals went without oversight.
As we fast-forward to today, after almost 30 years of marriage, staying at home has created other new shifts in our lives. I am in closer contact with my husband every day than I ever have been.
He now works from home and his office is in our kitchen nook. His filing space is our kitchen counter. He has only ventured out to the store once in the last five months. He is cut off from his regular coping mechanisms, like going to the gym.
I do go to the office during the week, but I don’t have the benefit of getting together face-to-face with my support system—my friends.
One big change is that we have had to turn to each other even more as the world around us is in upheaval. Making matters difficult, our politics are not similar. We used to avoid conversations about topics where we held opposing views, but with spending so much time together, we are having those discussions and listening to each other more.
Over these past months, we have built new rituals that bring us comfort, like reading our books together in the backyard each night after work. Each of us in our chair, the dog in another. It is a small oasis in an otherwise chaotic time.
We talk a lot about what our first trip will be as soon as it is possible—traveling back East to see family and to walk on the beach in Cape Cod. It’s comforting to reminisce about good times there.
They say the only thing that is certain is change. There is so much we are not in control of.
Maybe this is getting us ready for the future?
Because getting older is a life lesson in change.