The pandemic has reshaped my marriage. My husband, who used to work 12-hour days six days a week, found he really likes not to work when coronavirus shut down his dental practice for a month last year.
He’s in his early 70s so it’s probably time for him to slow down anyway but he grew to love going out early to exercise and do his errands and just hang out, especially since our son was also home, attending college remotely. I grew used to the constant interruptions — where’s the ketchup and I can’t find the remote and what channel is that crime show with all the murders? He’s started to love being home.
I used to have a quiet home where I could write whenever I wanted (except to take out the dog). As Phillip grew older and older, and started having after-school activities such as track, I had the house all to myself for hours. Now that he’s away at college, for a while it was blessedly quiet.
Pre-pandemic, I didn’t have to hear every step of how Nadal beat Medvedev or Google the calories in a tablespoon of ranch dressing (100). He was appalled it was that much. Now that he’s home and can take a lunch hour, he’s eating what Phillip and I call his “swamp” salad — kelp, sardines, capers and pumpkin seeds. Ick.
It’s true, I always wished he would be around more. But either he or I have changed. Maybe both.
We met almost 40 years ago so I’ve spent most of my adult life with him and like most couples, we’ve had our ups and downs, not having our child until I was in my late 40s and he, his early 50s.
We both loved exercising and going on vacations to tropical islands where he could play tennis or water ski and I could watch, and now, raising our kid. But you change, and though of course I still love him, I want him out of my house.
It’s weird to realize how much I loved my quiet home, him at work and Phillip at school. Sometimes it was lonely but mostly it was great. I could sit and read when I was done with my chores or go out to lunch or go for a run. It was just me and the dog and I could do whatever I wanted till Phillip got home from school, or Larry, from work.
But now he’s here all the time. I thought I would love it but I’m tired of being asked “where’s the butter?” when that’s all the refrigerator is filled with (my favorite cartoon).
Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice having someone to spell “Schenectady” for me (he interned at a Buffalo hospital) or run to get more milk.
I almost lost him four years ago when he was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. I had to think what life would be like without him. I didn’t like it.
But he always lets me go in front of him when we’re leaving the restaurant, his hand on my back, and always lets me read the paper first. And sometimes even lets me have the last cookie, when he wants it.
So maybe it’s not so bad having him around. I just wish he’d walk the dog once in a while.
Deborah DiSesa Hirsch is a writer living in Stamford.