Coronavirus and Relationships

March 19, 2020

The last few weeks have been surreal. The world has basically stopped. Schools, churches, restaurants, businesses, events have all been closed or cancelled. The term, "social distancing" is on everyone's lips. No one had even heard of this term a few weeks ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought everything to a grinding halt. It even cancelled St. Patrick’s Day. I even spent some time this week trying to reschedule a funeral, something that was completely new to me.

The most pressing touchpoint for me has been the closure of churches and the cancelling of weddings. I have spent many hours trying to help brides decide on moving dates or deciding on a much smaller wedding (under 10 people). No one was prepared for this, so it is new ground for everyone. These were weddings coming up in the next few weeks, these couples were in the home stretch. Now they are just being stretched.

If you are a bride wondering about your upcoming wedding, call us directly. We will help you navigate all the frustrations and the possibilities.

But whether you are engaged or married, we all have something in common during this season. In the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, where we operate primarily, we are under mandated closings and restricted to gatherings of less than 10 people.  It is a simple recommendation, just stay home.

Couples and families, without preparation, now have a lot of family/ relationship time on their hands. The internet has basically two joking thoughts or ideas about the cultural impact.  One thought is that we will have a baby boom.  Nine months from now, Basically December 2020/ January 2021 there are going to be a boom in little ones coming into the world. When these babies turn 13 in 2033/2034, they will be known as the quaran-teens!

The other darker thought is that some divorce attorneys predict another boom, a divorce boom.  It is the idea that spending too much time together, without the escapes of work, sports, soccer/ baseball/ softball games and a busy schedule that many couples will simply not enjoy the time spent together. What they have been pondering gets sped up.  I hope this is not the case.

We need to always work on our relationships. One of the great excuses I hear from couples, especially engaged couples is about time.  I am an advocate for date nights and constantly doing the work of relationship building. The response I often hear is, “we would love to, but we are so busy…” Well, now you have the time. We all suddenly have lots of time on our hands.

Make good use of the time you have been given

Back in 2016, I spent a week in the hospital. I got an weird infection in my stomach and I spent seven days in a hospital bed. A few weeks earlier, our church was helping a flooded section in town. The thought was that in the process of helping recovery efforts, I caught something.  For a guy in his early 40’s, this was a whole new thing. As each day passed, I struggled with this event coming into my life. I did not expect it or plan for it. I spent the first part of each morning in the hospital trying to cancel all the things I had planned for that day. It was a clear message to me that I was stretched too thin. I resolved to make some adjustments to my life and schedule. I was just too busy.

I spent a lot of time thinking about Psalms 23. This favorite shepherd’s song begins, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” other versions say, “I lack nothing.” We like the idea of the Lord being a shepherd and providing us with everything we need. We are protected, safe and worry about nothing we need. What a great concept.

He Makes Us Lie Down?

But then the Psalm continues, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”  He MAKES us lie down. He doesn’t ask, or suggest, or recommend. He makes us lie down.  In 2016, I was made to lie down. My schedule was too much, and I couldn’t handle it. While we like the concept of God taking care of us and providing for us, we at the same time balk at the idea that the same God makes us pause.  If you are a parent who has ever had to make a small child take a nap, you know how this works. You know they are cranky, tired and out of sorts. Despite their objections, you make them lie down… it’s for their own good.

Maybe this is a 23rd Psalm season. Maybe we are being made to lie down.  Maybe the world is long overdue for a nap.  Maybe this is the season to work on some of the things in your relationships that you have been putting off. Use this time to rest, recharge and do some of the things you have been putting off.  Take this season to reconnect with your partner and family. What else do you have to do?

Here are some suggestions:

1.      While date nights on the town might not be an option, be creative in your present circumstances. Do date night at home. We have a few blog posts that can help  Valentine Date Ideas, Date Challenge, Go on a Date.

2.      Read a relationship book together. For a list of our favorites, click here: Resource Page.

3.      Talk. Use the "3 T’s" model we suggest in another post.

Make the best of this down season, your schedule will ramp back up soon enough.  I am hoping in a few months to hear stories from couples about how valuable this season was. Maybe even thankful for it.  The next line in the 23rd Psalm has an interesting phrase, “He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.”  We all need things to calm down and allow our souls to be recharged.

Be safe and Wash your hands.

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