Couple write on living the ‘new normal’ in marriage
Deacon Derrick: With the entrance of COVID-19 into our daily lives we have all been forced to learn how to live a “new normal.” Discovering how this plays out in marriage is creating challenges for married couples everywhere, us included. How each spouse is dealing with this pandemic can differ greatly. Whether, you’ve been married 40 days or 40 years, opposites really do attract. Mistianna and I are no different.
Mistianna: This “new normal” has me craving social interaction. As an extrovert being around people feeds my soul, making me happy! This forced isolation and lack of seeing people, other than my immediate family, is sucking the life right out of me! I’m using FaceTime, Zoom and Marco Polo to stay connected, but this isolation is still hard for me.
Checking in with everyone digitally just isn’t the same as physically being together. I’m trying to share my feelings of loneliness and being disconnected with Derrick, but he can’t wrap his head around my deep need for others and social interaction. This has created tension in our marriage.
Deacon Derrick: Revealing to people that I am an introvert is shocking to many; as a deacon, they see me in front of church leading prayer and preaching, so, I must be an extrovert. But deep down I am an introvert by nature. Solitude is something I don’t dread, unlike Mistianna. My batteries get recharged by being alone; I have used this time to re-energize myself. I simply don’t understand Mistianna’s struggle with being lonely, after all, she has me all to herself, ALL DAY LONG!
Mistianna: COVID-19 has me struggling to compromise and be a more understanding and patient spouse. Normally, Derrick is rarely at home; he is either at work or at church. Now that he is here all the time, he is constantly disrupting and changing every routine I have.
For more than 20 years, “laundry day” has always been on Mondays. Suddenly, with Derrick now at home, “laundry day” has become “every day,” and I don’t like it. Even though I appreciate Derrick’s desire to pitch in, sometimes I wish, he just wouldn’t! While, we have good days and bad days, I wish Derrick could simply go back to work. I’m ready to reclaim my schedule, my routines and return to my “everyday normal”!
Deacon Derrick: Being together 24 hours a day, seven days a week can be an added stressor to this already challenging situation. It’s hard for Mistianna and me to be kind and compassionate to each other when we are working and living in the same close space. Like most couples, we are finding it difficult to discover how much distance and how much togetherness we each need to survive this pandemic. We’ve established various locations around our house as work, family and personal spaces. Even though we struggle daily to navigate this “new normal” we are both doing our best to remain positive and to be understanding with each other.
Mistianna: Both Derrick and I want to use the remainder of COVID-19 to grow closer together in our marriage. We know that trying times bring out both the best and the worst qualities in each other. As a married couple, our most effective vaccine against this pandemic is to stay connected; to keep talking; keep sharing; and keep communicating both good and bad feelings. If we can remind ourselves why we originally fell in love and got married, we can change our focus from being on COVID-19 to being back on our relationship, our love and our marriage.
Deacon Derrick and Mistianna Barnes regularly write about marriage — from their dual perspectives — in the Archdiocese of Louisville’s “Love Being Married” newsletter. Deacon Barnes is assigned to St. Margaret Mary Church.