Is Quarantine Infecting Your Relationship?

Sherry McGuinn

Now, "togetherness" is a whole new ballgame.

Another day. Another spat. Another hurtful comment.

I can’t speak for anyone else here, but “sheltering in place” is definitely taking its toll on me and my hubby.

We’re not baking together or clearing out our junk or having nonstop sex, or any sex. We just are.

Admittedly, that last statement is hard to define, but it almost feels as if our interactions have become robotic. Our lives certainly have.

I get out of bed in the morning at one time, he at another; we have our coffee and then go our separate ways. Me, to my office set up in the basement and my husband to the office we created in a spare bedroom.

Some days I’ll go out to forage for food and other essentials, but for the most part, I’m always at home, as is he. It’s rough on both of us, yet he handles it better than I do. That’s because he’s a much nicer person than I am. He doesn’t have the quick temper that I have.

I don’t like that about myself. I don’t like that I lash out so easily…and say things I regret later. I’m not proud of that aspect of my personality. Yet I have a hard time controlling myself.

Some of this behavior, I’ve inherited from my parents. That sounds like a cop-out, and maybe it is, but it’s true. That doesn’t mean I can’t change things. Of course, I can!

But I need to try harder. Because I do change, for a while. And then something or other sets me off and I’m off to the races. Again.

Like the protagonist in one of my scripts, when I get scared, I get mean. And it seems like there’s much to fear and stress over, not just now, but always.

I worry about my husband’s health as well as my own. I worry about our cats, the world, the pandemic, and those who have yet to be infected. I worry about money and wonder if we should considering “downsizing” even though we love our home. After all, that’s what people do when they get older, right?

I don’t know where the hell we’d go for one thing.

With all my fretting, it would appear that I’m not “mindful.” What does that mean, anyway? I’m still trying to figure it out. Is it a buzzword or an actual thing?

Does mindfulness go hand-in-hand with being grateful? I feel gratitude, but I’m not quite sure about the other.

I guess I’m screwed up.

Before the quarantine, my husband, who works from home, and has a stressful job as a Senior Editor for two magazines that specialize in the manufacturing industry, would break at about four in the afternoon and hang out at a local pub sipping wine and reading his Kindle. It was his “alone” time. And I know that made him feel good. Now, of course, he can’t even do that.

Most of my outings were centered around going to the gym, visiting my sister and shopping. And now, except for the occasional trip to the grocery store, the other routine excursions have fallen by the wayside.

But here’s the thing: I can’t stand to see my husband miserable. I hurt for him because we handle misery in different ways.

When I’m feeling bad, unless it’s hangover-related and I feel like death, I’m galvanized into action. I get a manic burst of energy. Possibly to keep me from thinking.

I’ll write, clean the house, change the litter in the boxes, etc. My husband, on the other hand, will just sit around looking…well, miserable.

So that makes me scared. And mad. You’d think that after all our time together, I’d realize that we process things in different ways.

I’ve tried to get him to exercise regularly, but it’s a constant struggle. I’ve explained time and again how working out helps my mental state, and would help his, as well.

But no go.

Granted, he has some physical challenges that make strenuous exercise impossible. But there are ways around this. You don’t have to kill yourself to get the blood pumping.

For example, he has a stationary bike in his office that doubles as a clothes hanger as he rarely uses it unless I brow-beat him.

I’ve given him hand weights, a tai chi video, and tons of verbal support.

But no go.

I can’t get on him back every day. He’s not the child I never wanted. He’s my husband! So what am I to do?

“Just shut the hell up, Sherry.”

That’s what the voice in my head tells me. But, true to form, I don’t always listen.

Isn’t it odd how “togetherness” during a pandemically-induced quarantine feels so very different than it would in “normal” times?

I’m sure my husband’s feeling it. He can no longer enjoy his “away time” at the pub. His away time from me.

Here’s what I used to do when he went out in the afternoon: I’d tell Alexa to play my favorite tunes and I’d dance like a maniac. Like someone possessed. That was my outlet.

Why do I feel like I can’t do that now? My husband wouldn’t care. He’d probably get a great kick out of it.

Normally, togetherness is a good thing. A positive thing. So why do we feel so stifled, now? I say “we” because I wager I’m not alone in this thinking. Not by a long shot.

Is it merely a mindset? Or are we slowly but surely coming to our breaking points?

You tell me. Please.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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My goal is to educate, entertain, make you laugh, and above all, make you think. I will be running the gamut as far as my articles go because I have a restless mind and I allow it to ramble where and when it wants. I hope you enjoy what I'm looking forward to sharing with you. If so, I'd love for you to follow me. Thanks for reading.

Chicago, IL

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