Quarantining: who are you with?

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Have you read the interesting statistics coming from China post-lockdown? Many people expected a baby boom after the quarantine; instead, they have a divorce boom. Before I read that, I’ve been thinking a lot about who people are forced to spend their time in seclusion with. The bottom line is: Do you like the person you’re isolated with?

For six weeks, the only person you can see from a distance closer than six feet is the person you live with. The only person you get to touch. The one you have to eat every meal with. The one you see constantly all day long and can’t get away from.

Do you enjoy his or her company?

This global social isolation is yet another proof of the need to choose wisely. What I mean by choose is who you live with. Specifically, I mean your spouse.

Steve and I moved to North Carolina when Steve’s company eliminated his office and he took an early retirement. I had yet to find a job. We were at home together all the time. It was a big adjustment, but we had options to create a little space. We weren’t quarantined together. We could take turns getting out and having time apart from each other.

People in lockdown don’t have that luxury.

Soon after we got married, we joined a group of newly married couples at our church. The leader asked the group what we thought was the main reason for divorce. Someone answered, “Money.” No. “Sex.” Nope. “Lack of communication.” We were getting closer with that one.

The answer may surprise you. The major reason couples divorce is a lack of friendship, according to our group leader. They just don’t like each other anymore.

Some couples can mask their lack of friendship by focusing all their energy on the children. When the family revolves around the kids, parents can avoid facing the reality that they’ve grown apart. But unless they let the kids live in the basement until they’re in their forties (and many people do), they will find themselves alone, just the two of them, at some point.

For some couples, that point has arrived.

I think of couples who were about to split up before the pandemic and have been forced to quarantine together. Or a spouse who is abused by the other and cannot get away now.

With 45% of Americans being unmarried, there are many other categories of people who may feel stuck.

What about people who are completely alone? Elderly or widowed people. Single extroverts who have been going crazy since the first day. Single introverts who enjoyed the time alone at first, free of expectations, but now that they’re in Week 6, they are starving for company.

Roommates who don’t really like each other. I’ve been there. It’s not that I disliked any of my roommates, but I had nothing in common with a few of them, no natural affinity. Being trapped at home with a roommate like that would’ve made me go nuts (but I have no doubt I would’ve driven them even crazier).

When I worked in ministry with college students, I always asked the young women to tell me about their week. One of the most common topics weighing on their minds was the tension in their relationships with their roommates.

Choose Wisely* is good advice for everything in life, especially life partners. The lockdown brings the fruit of unwise decisions we’ve made to the surface.

I’m so glad I chose well. Steve and I took a long time with our decision, and it paid off.  I like my husband and I enjoy being stuck with him!


*Whenever I say “choose wisely,” I feel a need to add “Grasshopper” to the end, a shoutout to the 70s TV series Kung Fu.

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