In a world of COVID, we’ve suddenly become confined to small spaces with our spouses, with little to no reprieve. During the ensuing weeks and months, we’ve got to balance work life and personal life, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In a lot of ways, many marriages will receive a glimpse of life in retirement. Spouses will look from different lenses—one may think the sky is falling, the other believes, “Eh, no big deal.” Jada Pinkett Smith related her experience. Smith, who’s been married to actor Will Smith for 23 years, realized she didn’t know him.
“I gotta be honest. I think one of the things that I’ve realized is that I don’t know Will at all. I feel like there’s a layer that you get to, life gets busy, and you create these stories in your head, and then you hold onto these stories, and that is your idea of your partner; that’s not who your partner is. Will and I are in the process of him taking the time to learn to love himself, me taking the time to learn to love myself, and us building a friendship along the way. Let me tell you, that’s been something, to be married to somebody 20-some odd years and realize I don’t know you and you don’t know me and also realizing there’s an aspect of yourself you don’t know either.”
Building friendships is something all must do.
Just before COVID closing the world, I overheard two men discussing their lives. One man was determined to force his wife of 27 years out of the marriage. He hated everything about her, from sunup to sundown. By his logic, if his wife left, he would not lose his children’s honor, and he could marry a younger wife. He wanted a younger wife. A younger wife will fix everything.
“My wife says, ‘I just want everything to be back the way it was in the beginning,’” the first man says. “God. My wife is old. Since her chemo is over, she smells old. Her skin sags and nothing she does is satisfying. She disgusts me.”
No one can ever go back to the beginning. It will never be, “… the way it was back in the beginning.” Relationships either evolve or devolve. The problem is we misperceived what our futures will be.
COVID kind of hits that home.
A couple was dining and celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. After the meal, the husband presented his wife romantically with a beautiful, ancient gold antique locket on a chain.
Amazingly when his wife opened the locket, a tiny fairy appeared.
“Your forty years of devotion to each other has released me from this locket, and in return, I will grant you both one wish each – anything you want.”
Without hesitating, the wife asked, “Please, can I travel to the four corners of the world with my husband, as happy and in love as we’ve always been?”
The fairy waved her wand with a flourish, and magically there on the table were two first-class tickets for a round-the-world holiday.
The fairy looked to the husband, “Your turn.”
The husband thought for a moment, and said, “Forgive me, but to enjoy that holiday of a lifetime – I yearn for a younger woman – so I wish that my wife be thirty years younger than me.”
Shocked, the fairy waved her wand, and the husband became ninety-three.