Marriage State of Emergency:: Finding Hope During a Pandemic

Marriage State of Emergency:: Finding Hope During a PandemicCOVID-19 turned all of our lives upside-down. We’ve all had to adjust to homeschooling, financial instability and being home together while keeping this deadly virus at bay as much as we can.

It hit hard. It caused panic and hardship. It caused death. 

But, there are some plus sides, some silver linings.

Many gratefully gush about having had time to make lasting memories with their kids. Being able to take long walks or bikes rides. Binge watching favorite shows or reading a lot. Organizing and cleaning their homes to perfection. Using the downtime to regroup and reset from daily routines. 

My silver lining:: A reassurance that my marriage will survive. 

The Honeymoon Phase

My husband, A.J., and I met in college in 2010. He was intrigued by my smile; I was fascinated by his nonchalant attitude. Neither of us was looking for anything serious. I had just ended an intense summer fling. He was playing the field, having fun, being carefree. We wanted things to be light-hearted and fun. No strings.

But then came the strings. Our bond, through thick and thin, was undeniable.

Here we are, 10 years later, six years of marriage, three sons, two dogs, two turtles and a lot of life between us.

We’ve grown up. We’ve been through hell and experienced true bliss. We’ve won big and lost big, together. 

But the reality is, marriage takes conscious effort. It takes work.

And the second you get too comfortable and complacent, driving with one hand and your eyes off the road, your healthy marriage takes a nosedive into a ditch, a rut you never saw coming.

Losing “Us”

Experts say the two things that drive couples toward divorce most often are sex and money. They’re right.

Our sex life had mellowed and become almost nonexistent. Money was tighter than usual, and we simply stopped being us.

Date nights were forgotten. Actual communication was a thing of the past. Kisses were quick, “have a good day” obligations. We were shells of us.

And the tension. The never-ending tension. That tone of voice, exasperated breath, the eye roll. One day, I couldn’t stand how drank his coffee, and he was peeved about how I folded his shirts. I resented his long hours at work and his unavailability for me, and he envied my intense focus on the children.  

Everything became a fight. Everything was an issue. Everything was difficult.

We were at our wits’ end. It seemed like there was nothing left. Our sons seemed like our only connection anymore. I could not fathom a life with my husband that solely existed for the sake of our children, but it felt like we had nothing left to give each other. 

Then, COVID-19.

A Second Chance

My kids were all home. My husband was home. We were all home. Together. The tension was ever-present, but there was no sanctuary. No work, playdates, meetings, moms group, even Chick-Fil-A to run to. We just had to deal. 

What started as a gentle, playful nudge in the kitchen turned into a civil chat. A civil chat turned into a late-night, takeout spread of Chinese food in bed. Dinner in bed turned into lengthy talks on the couch while we discussed what our issues had been over the past year. We talked, we fought, we cried, we listened, we learned. We learned how much we needed each other. 

A.J. and I have always been very Yin & Yang. Our strengths and weaknesses complement each other. I take a more planned out, scheduled approach to life, and he likes a more relaxed, go with the flow style. He tends to be more intense with his feelings; I’m more on an even keel. I’m more of an extrovert, he’s more of an introvert. I’m a more picky eater while he will eat virtually anything.

As he, so lovingly, describes us, he’s John Lennon, and I’m Paul McCartney. Without McCartney, Lennon’s music would be to dark and brooding. Without Lennon, McCartney’s music would be too bubblegum. But together, Beatlemania!

The pandemic gave us an opportunity to remind ourselves and each other of who we are and what we bring to each other’s lives. Together, we managed to stay afloat financially and redo our budget. We created a game plan for our future {pending the effects of COVID-19}. We made lunches, maintained a homeschooling schedule to help our oldest get every required assignment finished. We managed the stress of my husband’s furlough and tackled projects around the house. We had no choice but to work as a team, and we were crushing it. 

The time together has also given us more time for consistent at-home date nights and laughs over wine. And sex. Much, much more sex!  

What looked like an absolute worst-case scenario was truly what we needed.

A New Future

With the guidance I’ve received from my therapist, the support of our individual circles, and some very hard work, we have a new lease on our marriage.

A few months ago, it didn’t seem like we could make it. 

Now we fully understand how important and necessary it is to actively choose each other every day.

My husband actually reminded me a few days ago that we had not checked in with each other in a couple of weeks. HE reminded ME that we needed to talk! That has never happened in the history of our relationship. I can now remember the last time he and I sat down to chat one-on-one and express our feelings and concerns. It was last Sunday.

We see that marriage really does require maintenance. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. 

Sometimes, we need a crisis to bring us together. Sometimes, we need an emergency to remind us of how lucky we are and shine light on all that we take for granted. Sometimes, we need a pandemic to not-so-gently nudge us into the embrace of the spouses we’ve, over time, grown cold toward. 

It shouldn’t take a National Emergency to fix my marriage, but this time, it did.

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Ashley KB was born in Long Beach, CA, but spent most of her childhood in Denver, CO. She was very athletic growing up, and she loved running track and playing volleyball. Ashley ventured to Oklahoma where she attended Langston University and transferred to the University of Central Oklahoma. Ashley graduated with an English degree from the UCO in 2011. Ashley was married to A.J. for six years... but it just didn't work out. And that's OK! They have three wild, precious, hilarious sons, Oliver {October 2012}, Maverick {August 2015} and Reeve {August 2017} who make life so incredibly meaningful. She also has a snuggly fur baby, Luna. In her free time, she can be found binge watching The Office {for the millionth time}, listening to inappropriate podcasts, or oversharing on Instagram @theofficialbossmama and her personal blog.



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