It’s been 3 weeks. Maybe it’s been 4. Living in the shadow of NYC where My Beloved and I have plied our trades for the majority of our careers, we are currently sheltered-in-place. The good news is we are both safe. The good news is we are fully engaged each day, so as not to greatly impose one on the other. The truth is, though neither of us would admit to it, we could use a break. (We continue to be very much in love).
A writer-friend, far more eloquent than I, authored the Pandemitudes, wherein she wrote,
“Blessed are the couples and adult children who are now together 24/7, for they are discovering absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
In a recent conversation with a friend, I called what I was feeling,
“…it’s storming like crazy, but I’m going to be fine. I ADORE my husband. (no buts). With age, I am increasingly introverted and far more independent than the woman he married 27 years ago. I’m also freer and more likely to be my natural self than being well-behaved. (you know what they say about well-behaved women…they seldom make history). That said, this too shall pass.”
When My Beloved is working, I am mindful not to impose upon his enviable laser focus. When we are both at our offices, some find it odd that we don’t talk during the day. We may chat transactionally, when necessary. We are more likely to connect at day’s end of when our commutes are intended to align.
It has always worked for us.
When my phone rings I know it’s him. Not only does his image appear on-screen, a favorite picture of me in his embrace, but a custom ring tone, the voice of Johnny Hartman which those who know me instantly recognize, I know that he needs me.
I always take the call, as I do when any other immediate member of our tribe rings. It is clear to colleagues that those calls take priority; it is because they are seldom that there is never any pushback. We compartmentalize.
in our relationship because it allows us to maintain grounded, effective boundaries. When we wed, My Beloved was building his own business. Work often followed him home, spilling over into his weekends. I learned to respect and appreciate his drive and discipline. Once I took myself out of the center of the universe and stopped feeling personally insulted (he was not ignoring me, but focusing on tasks at hand), I learned to respect its value. As a maturing professional, wife, and mother, I’ve mastered it to carve out necessary time for myself to avoid feeling martyred.
It is okay, even necessary, to make time for yourself.
Everybody Needs a Little Space
I wasted too many years resentfully giving myself away. We should give our time and our presence genuinely, or not at all. An emerging writer (stay-at-home wife/mother desperate for something she controlled), I felt guilty about setting time aside to write, preferring to hide and/or sulk.
Cautiously, particularly as freelance assignments and then FT writing jobs appeared, I learned to say “Mommy is writing.” It felt good to set boundaries. Now, when I’m tapping on my laptop, people approach quietly, asking, “are you writing.”
Not Only Do I Compartmentalize, I Model it
…and no one gets hurt. It’s probably not for everyone. Benefits for me include looking forward to engaging My Beloved after half a day away, interested to hear about his adventures, roses and thorns.
We’ve also raised two people who set balanced boundaries AND who feel comfortable making their needs known. Mama still always sets it all aside when they need me. That is who I am, and that will never change.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.
Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV)
Decolonizing Love and Marriage
Approaching this scripture from my increasingly decolonized perspective, my take on this is “one who finds a spouse finds good.” It’s not just My Beloved who found a good thing; I am richly blessed.
I’ve been grumpy and unintentionally churlish lately, and he did nothing to deserve that. I will do better.
I will also take this opportunity to wish My Beloved an early happy 27th wedding anniversary which we’ll celebrate, sheltered or not, at the end of next month.
We’ve Always Been Perfect Together
…our version of perfection, in its beautifully liminal, imperfect way. I wouldn’t want to do life with anyone else.
We’re so much stronger than COVID-19 baby, and I plan to laugh as we thank God for abiding grace and mercy when we look back on this time, this summer, at the cookout.