How Coronavirus Strengthened My Marriage
Life was a fast-paced sprint until COVID-19. The world shut down and life as we knew it came to a screeching halt. In today’s blog, Natalie Comstock talks about the blessing in disguise that this was for her marriage. She shares how slowing down and reevaluating what matters most in life is a gift that we can all learn from in this unique time.
Raise your hand if 2020 turned out differently than you expected on last New Year’s Eve.
I went into 2020 ready for what I called a “harvest year”. 2017, 2018, and 2019 were years of change, growth, and new experiences. I was taking on new opportunities at work, starting the process of getting a Master’s Degree, and was ready to reap the harvest of all the years of sowing and growing before. I was ready for an adventure! Something new! Something exciting!
Well, on March 12, everything did become new, but much more suddenly and differently than I’d ever expected. My workplace shut their doors - instead of sharing a single space with two of my team members among an entire staff of people I loved, I was now working from home all day, alone. Not only could I not go to any of the dinners or parties or after work meetings I had filling my calendar, I couldn’t even see other people in person! With the sweeping economic crisis that quickly followed from the world stopping in its tracks, taking on grad school looked increasingly like an irresponsible risk, not a career-furthering move.
And then there was quarantine... full-on isolation and quarantining? I couldn’t possibly. We’re hosting a movie night on Thursday. I’m filming a video for my church’s VBS all weekend. I’ve got a work event on Sunday afternoon to host and a family dinner on Tuesday evening and I’m mentoring a group of Middle School girls on Wednesday night and I have another ministry seminar to attend on Thursday night and dinner with friends the next Friday night and…
… And nothing. Just like that, it was all gone. The world had looked at my hectic schedule and decided I needed some stillness. And in that stillness, I noticed an incredible gift I hadn’t been paying nearly enough attention to: my marriage.
Now, my husband is no introvert. For so much of our relationship, we’ve run around from one party, one gathering, one adventure to the next. There were always dear friends to see, new restaurants to try, places to visit that we’d never gone to before. It’s one of the things I love most about him - he’s just so much fun. But even he will tell you that after a few years, the running around constantly left us both drained. So while he loved my excitement in pursuing more work opportunities and loved the times we connected deeply with our friends, the calendar started to become one of the very few points of contention for us.
Until March 12 when suddenly, it wasn’t anymore. Suddenly, the calendar was a non-issue, completely out of our control. As I began to learn what life looked like from exclusively inside my house, I began to feel the weariness of my constant running catch up with me. The energy and attention that our overpacked schedules required from us meant that we weren’t bringing our best selves home, but saving it for the rest of the world. Being forced to sit still allowed me to bring back into focus what I’d been missing for a while.
I’ll be the first to admit that my husband and I have been undeservedly lucky through this season. We both kept our jobs. No one in our immediate circle has been sick. We’ve been able to maintain friendships well throughout social distancing. The fact that we’ve escaped these stressors that have impacted so many others is a privilege I don’t take lightly, and it’s been one of the most major reasons we’ve been able to walk through this season with the perspective that we have.
But because of Coronavirus, and the shutting down of the world that followed, we were given the gift of slowing down. We’ve had nights where we sat on our back porch after dinner and talked for hours. We’ve had discussions about who we are, who we want to be, what we want our lives to look like, what the Lord is growing and changing in us. We’ve developed new hobbies together - our garden is now full of herbs and (future) grapes and tomatoes. We’re taking on redesigning parts of our house, and we’ve even been experimenting with bottling our own ginger beer. (Unsuccessfully so far, but one of these days we’ll get it right!)
Until March 2020, we had been burning the candle at both ends. And this isn’t to say we were spending our time poorly - almost all of the things filling our schedules were life giving, kingdom furthering, soul building things. We are lucky enough that our marriage has always been a source of joy, peace, and love for both of us. But still, we had placed these good things in the position of ultimate things. And once we were able to take a look at what life was like when the good things were good and the ultimate things were ultimate, that’s when we saw our marriage deepen and sweeten in truly wonderful ways. That’s when we were able to reevaluate our priorities, our goals, and align ourselves better with the Lord’s heart, as well as with each other’s.
There’s a song I love called Emmylou by the band First Aid Kit. It’s only in this season that one of the lines jumped out at me in a new way:
Now so much I know that things just don't grow
If you don't bless them with your patience
So, while in the midst of being forced to slow down, take the opportunity to bless something or someone new with your patience. See what beauty grows from unexpected places. It might just change everything.
Natalie Comstock is a part of the Communications, Connections, and LifeGroups teams at Calvary Church in Santa Ana, California. She has found joy and purpose in developing communications strategies and serving through connecting others in the local church. Natalie received a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from Biola University and minored in Biblical Studies. She has been married to her husband Neil since 2015.