I just got a call from a woman I’d worked with a several years ago. Things were going well for her personally, but her marriage was in free fall. As we talked, I saw it was the same story that’s been playing out in millions of relationships in 2020. The breakup pandemic.
Here’s what happens, and here’s how it affects you.
Before the pandemic, the two of you had worked out a sort of equilibrium based on going to work. There was something about being out of the house and away from each other that gave the two of you the distance you two needed to keep things lubricated between you:
You had enough time away from each other so that friction didn’t build up
The time away you had prevented you from noticing things that being locked up together brings to the surface
As for 1), maybe the time you had away from another prevented you from getting riled up by how often your partner interrupts you. A few times in an evening is bearable. Dozens of times in the course of a day is something very different.
When it comes to 2), a hectic schedule can give a couple lots to talk about. But being home together 24/7 may make you realize that your partner is a boring as a bag of ball bearings. Just has nothing to say beyond, “We’re low on peanut butter.”
What’s more, some entirely new behaviors pop up for a lot of people. Many of us have noticed that during the lockdown we’re not managing our time well, or that we’re putting on weight, or that we’re sleeping during the day. Our partners notice too, and it just makes things worse.
So that’s the breakup pandemic. An okay relationship where it’s as if an evil genie decided to make things worse just for the hell of it, to the edge of intolerable, or more. It’s like you’re struggling to get to sleep and suddenly all the neighborhood cats decide to go into heat and start yowling.
So, are you doomed? No!
Let’s look at this for what it is. Lots of relationships are put under intolerable strain because the partners decide to go camping or to let a mother-in-law move in. You don’t divorce over this. You cut short the camping trip or find another place for the mother-in-law. In the same way, this seemingly never-ending pandemic will end and we will go back to our old equilibrium and things can be as good as before.
And what about now? That’s for my next posting. Stay tuned.