After 35 years of marriage, I would have told you that there wasn’t anything new to discover in my marriage. Not that I wasn’t happy-quite the contrary. It is just that after all this time, we had settled into our mostly, but not completely, peaceful empty-nester rhythm. What’s more, we met as teenagers, and now in our late 50s, we can, as the old saying goes-complete each other’s sentences without even trying. My husband is fond of saying “I know you better than you know yourself” and it never fails to irk me that he is absolutely correct. But that was our before Covid-19 (B.C.) impression of each other and our marriage. After Covid-19 (A.C.), what we thought we knew about each other is changing.
Being alone together, we are getting to know each other in new ways. We are playing backgammon- something we never once did B.C.. How is it that my husband is better at a game that is mostly luck? Hrrrumph! We have daily ping pong matches. Normally, the far better athlete, my husband’s impatient ball-smashing ways are working against him. Ha! Who knew we would find new shared activities thanks to forced social distancing?
B.C., I would have predicted that being alone together would have amplified our bickering. Surprisingly, that prediction would have been completely wrong. A.C., we haven’t bickered at all. Our B.C. fights were the result of my making far too many social plans for the two of us, while my husband practically invented social distancing. It may be tempting fate to say that so far, we have gone almost two months without a disagreement. Regardless, that has to be a record for our marriage and maybe for anyone’s marriage.
The most oddly satisfying, and truly weird part of our isolation together is that we are doing each other’s hair. (No braiding involved.) My husband very kindly and ably assisted in my overwhelmingly messy, awkward first attempt at dying my hair. Nowhere in our marriage vows had the strangeness of my husband acting as hairdresser been even vaguely anticipated. Plus there is my new favorite job, except I like it so much that calling it a job seems unfair. I have discovered that I LOVE – absolutely love-cutting my husband’s hair. It is surprisingly easy, fun and satisfying. I even love the sound of each snip of the scissors and the instantaneous improvement with each snip from overgrown, messy hair into neatness. When he surveyed my work in the bathroom mirror, it was his turn to be pleasantly surprised. Positive feedback- who could ask for more?
Recently, we had our strangest isolation related incident yet. We suffered an insect infestation- just your everyday, typical household emergency. At first, it was a few bugs here and there, but within 20 minutes, there were hundreds, maybe thousands of critters, flying and crawling throughout our home. While this was probably not something most people would have freaked out about, my panic quickly progressed. I became aware that my heartbeat was literally quickening at the exact rate the insects were multiplying. In the B.C. days, I would have called an exterminator and we could have fled. However, A.C., that was clearly not an option.
Knowing my irrationally out-sized fear of insects, my husband gallantly sprayed Raid and smashed hundreds of bugs, while I assumed the traditional role of grateful damsel in distress. Except, my behavior was far too B.C., and it needed to become A.C. pronto….so as he tired of all the killing, I sprang into action- hunting and smushing bugs until 4:30 am. While I wouldn’t say I got over my irrational fear of bugs completely, I surprised my husband and I surprised myself even more.
In our new A.C. life together, we are literally sharing new and sometimes strange experiences. Our B.C. predictions and assumptions about ourselves and our marriage are being challenged by countless small daily occurrences, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. However, I still find it incredibly annoying that he knew exactly what I was going to say in this blog post.