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It's two weeks into the national coronavirus meltdown and I've got good news: My wife and I still like each other. That's remarkable, considering the fact that we're semi-quarantined and living in a world that's collapsing around us — not to mention being trapped in a house with three kids who think we're a couple of vending machines.
While we're just as tired of wringing our over-washed hands as anyone else, we're still managing to stay happily married. I think it has to do with a few things that have kept us in good spirits so far.
1. We're trying to enjoy each other. Times are serious and people are suffering but we still need to have fun being together. For example, yesterday Raquel and I jumped on the trampoline while talking about how stressed out we are. It helped to bounce off some of the worry. We've also watched movies together, ridden our bikes with the kids and toasted each other while eating frozen pizza. It's keeping our spirits up and giving us things to look forward to, which everyone can use right now.
2. We're being productive. I'm cranking out plenty of work product while teleworking, and Raquel — God bless her — has started homeschooling the kids. We've also ordered and assembled furniture, caught up on our to-do list and taught the kids how to do a better job of cleaning toilets. Getting things done has helped reduce some of the angst of being in a world in which it feels like everything is grinding to a halt.
3. We're connecting to others. My wife and I are a couple of extroverts who are constantly hosting or meeting up with friends for fellowship. To make up for the loss of connection, we've attended church on the iPad, called friends on FaceTime and talked to the neighbors (from six feet away!) more than ever before. It has helped us get the focus off of each other and remember that there are people out there who need community just as much as we do.
4. We're staying informed (but positive). My wife and I are checking our newsfeeds like anyone else, but we're trying to focus on the positive too. Seriously, you know you've been talking about the coronavirus too much when your 3-year-old mentions it at breakfast. So, tonight at dinner we made a point to talk about things that we are thankful for. Afterward, we felt less irritable and a lot more encouraged — something we especially need during these stressful times.
5. We're connecting to God. Raquel and I are praying together in the midst of this meltdown. The prayers aren't necessarily complicated. Sometimes it's just praying, "God, please protect the most vulnerable among us" and then saying "Amen." At other times, we've gotten inspired by reading a chapter from the Bible (Psalm 23 is a really good passage). I believe that the more we put God at the center of our relationship during this crisis, the more we'll discover the truth of Ecclesiastes 4:12: "A three-cord strand is not easily broken."
There's nothing magical about the things we're doing to keep our relationship strong during this awful situation. We're just trying to stay focused on what's important. Like my wife said at the table tonight: "You know what kids? We don't know what's going to happen next — but even if we lose it all, we'll be OK as long as we've got each other."