‘Conjugal Confinement’ or ‘Couples Quarantining’: Reports From The Domestic Front

They don’t call it wedlock for nothing. Photograph by Pitar Milosevec.

By Carol Tannenhauser

“The divorce rate is probably going to soar when this is over,” he said.

I would have laughed, except he is my husband.

“I agree,” I said, vehemently.

It is the 10th day of our couples quarantine. We are shut-in spouses, conjugally confined, wedlocked. Twenty four is a lot of hours of marital bliss; seven is a lot of days. Two-week vacations are one thing, but how many weeks, months will this crisis last — and will our marriage?

How are things going on your domestic front? We’re not just interested in married couples; all committed, live-in partnerships are appreciated, including roommates and pets. How has being shut in together for an unknown period of time, under such dire circumstances, affected your relationship? Do you even have a relationship if children and work are involved? Have you learned anything new about your partner? Do you have any advice for quarantined couples?

We have to keep ourselves occupied! What better way than to really look at the person across the table from you, remember how and why you got together in the first place, what things were like before time tempered the early enthusiasms and you settled into real life? Now, we have surreal life. How’s that going? We’re looking for honesty, insight, and, always, humor, qualities that will get us through!

Here is my first response, forwarded by a friend married for nearly fifty years:

This is my answer!!!

Please add your response in the comments below. Real names are NOT required.

Next: Sequestering Solo: Must Alone Mean Lonely?

* This article has been expanded to include pets.

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    1. Juan says:

      Our marriage was troubled to begin with. Sequestering has not helped – it has only made it worse. We have two fairly young girls so we are trying to hold it together for their sake. Though our differences in parenting philosophy are only becoming more apparent. We will be seeing the therapist as soon as possible.

      • NYYgirl says:

        Crossing my fingers and wishing you and your family all the best

      • Seth says:

        Try online/video chat therapy

      • Nan D says:

        You can connect with a therapist virtually. Psychology Today has profiles of therapists on their site. Check it out. And get help now.
        In these times of stress,you can make it your priority for yourself and your family. Kudos for being so open. That’s a good start.

    2. Stu says:

      We are fine. We have daily “meetings” to talk through our day to set expectations re: work commitments, availability to do certain things, etc. I am working remotely from home now (as we all are), but my spouse is not and has primary child care duties. I will schedule “meetings” on my work calendar to set aside time when I can help out with the kids to give my spouse the ability to get her stuff done.

      But most folks I hear from are fighting and bickering alot more. Stems mainly from spouses who never helped with the kids and who are suddenly home all day and are expected to pitch in.

    3. jezbel says:

      Married 35 years. With 3 adult children 2 from his former marriage, one from this marriage. The kids live in other states, one in another country.
      My spouse works from our in-home recording studio. I’m mostly retired. We get a long remarkably well. We laugh. We worry about the kid abroad. Keep in touch with children, grandchildren, nieces & nephews via Zoom. It’s fun to chat, to goof around. We trash Trump together, listen intently to Gov. Cuomo. We walk, play games, talk lots and occasionally bicker. And when that happens we retreat to our neutral corners. Spend a few minutes sulking and then we’re besties all over again. Laughter was always one of the main attractions. It still is. Life is serious enough. We are social distancing. It’s the best we can do. We know what will be, will be. Prepare for the worst – hope for the best and make sure you always keep it fun – if that’s possible Works for us.

    4. szg says:

      During this coronavirus quarantine, I remember last week saying to myself how fortunate I am to like this guy sitting six feet away from me. After 51 years of marriage, I know if we stay healthy, we will make 52. It is crazy out there. After watching television and browsing the internet, I am considering a lifetime quarantine. I guess I should ask him if he agrees.

    5. GG says:

      My partner and I celebrated our four-year anniversary two weeks ago. We couldn’t be happier with each other. I’m 60 and she’s 50 and we are as in love as a couple in their 20s, with the added wisdom and emotional maturity that comes with life experience. Self-isolating together while worrying about children in their early 20s who still need guidance and reassurance, taking care of pets, elderly friends and elderly friend’s pets–all this just makes us closer. These are extremely stressful times for everyone–not the least financially–but we have each other and we have our health so we have everything we need. The crisis reminds us that if we have our health and we have love we have everything that we need!

    6. Edwina Originally from the UWS says:

      It’s date night, every night! Best advice, remind each other that you are in each other’s corner. You have each other’s back. Who else would you rather spend quality time with? And when sh*t hits the fan, forgive one another for spats. Remember, you only have one another to argue with! It’s a great time to pull out the board games!
      Good luck!

    7. Kate says:

      Husband and I have been married 20 years (together for 25…I claim I was 8 at the time). He normally works from another state and is only home on weekends and the summer. Well, he’s working remotely, so he is back two months early. I am also working from home, as are our two elementary school kids.

      After 10 days inside together we are doing surprisingly well. We both have separate spaces we work from. The kids and I do their schoolwork in the morning and then they are free to do what they want. We’ve been playing ticket to ride or Settlers of Catan. Introduced the kids to James Bond. We’ll be okay, but we are all worried for my Dad in the West Village and miss him.

    8. Dolker says:

      I truly find the time precious. Otherwise, I always felt like my husband and I are just too busy with our boys that we don’t truly get a “family time,” but now that we all get to stay inside together. We are cherishing it.
      I have been cooking, baking and all. We are eating, watching movies and shows. It’s been so much fun. I have been super busy homeschooling both our boys, aged 8, and 10. The boys complain that there is way more school work at home than at school, which has been pretty stressful, but we are so happy to spend the time together with nowhere to run to. We are making the most out of this time no matter how uncertain & bad it is financially…
      Nowadays since the remote learning has started I have been trying for us to be up by 7:30 to get all the school work done by 2:20. But, the week before that we stayed up late, went to sleep together as a family in one room, lined up on camping mats on the he floor, including our dog. It’s truly been soothing.
      We have been on a complete locked-down mode to make sure that we don’t contribute to the spread of this bad COVID19. My husband leaves to just walk the dog 3 times a day for less than 5 min. around our block. That’s about it.
      I think all families should make the most out of this time, and do what is most fun and meaningful.
      Being with family 24/7 hasn’t changed my family relationship at all; may be because I am pretty straight forward when I don’t like or disagree with something on any given day till now.
      No matter how chaotic the circumstances is around the world, we are at peace and have been praying for every living being🙏
      Blessings and positive thoughts to every soul in every realm🙏

    9. Anon says:

      My boyfriend and I met last October and we are quarantining together. So far it’s honestly been pretty great and going well, despite being together 24/7 – because it’s a relatively new relationship? despite of it?

    10. Anne says:

      This quarantine has been such a blessing on our relationship! Not being able to go to bars or restaurants has opened up a plethora of home activity. We set up a home gym. Cooking, walking, talking, just being contain such richness. We have established routines to structure each day – 7 am wake up, 8 am dial in to pray with other believers. He works 9-5 so I make tea in the afternoon for us. Each night we play with new recipes. Wednesday evenings our community group Bible study meets on Zoom. I wrote a book last Spring so hosted a reading on Zoom with friends and strangers. We have no TV, a paper FT delivery, and enough news through our computers. There is lots of time to read! We have helped connect masks with health care providers and pray for our city and the world. We are bullish on how Trump and Cuomo are working together.

    11. JS says:

      Great article…..I look forward to future comments. When this period is over I hope more people continue to appreciate the little things in life….like going to the supermarket without being anxious and afraid. We must begin to be more conscious of others no matter who they are….family, friends or strangers.
      Stay safe.

    12. El Mon says:

      Quarantined with my spouse of 30 years, when the going gets tough, I recall our marriage day and those three little words we vowed to use whenever the going gets tough: you’re right, dear.

    13. sharib says:

      Couples whose relationships were fractured before this unprecedented situation are dealing with even more stress. Sharing children and navigating co-parenting challenges whether parents are still living together or have separated adds another layer of difficulty. I am a divorce lawyer/mediator. Many mediators and therapists are conducting sessions virtually. So much of life is out of control right now. Accessing these services can help couples reach agreements, even temporary ones to get through this difficult time.

    14. olderwoman says:

      I am close to eighty and staying inside during the virus, but my husband in his sixties, is still working. He has room where he can stay every night at work if he needs to. I don’t know if he should stay there for the duration to protect me. Any thoughts?

    15. JOEY says:

      SOCIAL DISTANCING

      How long is this social distancing supposed to last?

      My wife keeps trying to get into the house.

    16. citygirl57 says:

      Mostly it has been great, we are not fully locked in so having daily walks together is very helpful . Most often we are so busy that it could’ve been bumpier with me out of work, for now, and him working from home. But hey, we like each other and so far it hasn’t been a problem. We support and encourage and share updates and information. Let me add, our apartment is 400 sq !!

    17. Dear Abby says:

      We are who we are in times of crisis or otherwise. This time certainly can make or break our relationships so we must not let it. Let’s try to use our best traits to get through it. I know I am struggling to do just that because I certainly am full of good traits and not so good ones!! Challenging. Sigh.

    18. J. L. Rivers says:

      We’re enjoying our time in quarantine very much. We both love cooking and have been experimenting with, and creating new dishes. Every three days is leftover day, when we put together leftovers from previous meals and make something out of it (usually a fritatta).
      One thing that helps us: we are both night owls. We go to bed late watching movies, usually around 3am,and wake up around noon. Coffee time is usually between one and a half to two hours, after which we make our first meal of the day. After eating we fall into a digital lull, reading the news, talking about events happening elsewhere and a favorite of hers, sharing memes about quarantine confinement.
      By the time this digital lull ends, we turn on the TV and watch some news, but that usually doesn’t take much than thirty minutes.
      Every evening, after those who have ventured out have gone back home, we take a long walk. We’ve walked multiple times from the upper 80s down to 34th street and back. The streets are eerily deserted of course and somehow that makes the walks feel less long. According to my fitness app, we’ve burnt about 700 calories per walk. I don’t believe those algorithms too much but it gives our walk a purpose other than just to catch some fresh air.
      We take the walks in the evenings because there are less people outside. On our way back we stop at Fairway to get our groceries. It feels very reassuring that they stay open 24 hours and are well stocked. I love scanning the products myself using their app on my phone. That way we don’t have to make the checkout lines.
      Once back at home, we leave the shoes and coats by the door, take showers, and settle on the couch to eat something light, usually accompanied with some wine and start watching TV until 3am in the morning. Next day? Repeat.

    19. Rhoda Nayor says:

      We have been married for almost 55 years. In Feb we decided to take a six day vacation to Aruba, just us, no friends, no kids, no grand kids. We had a wonderful time
      Little did we know that as soon as we got back from Aruba we would be in the “at risk” category and be isolated, just us, no friends, no kids etc.
      Except for the lack of sun, warmth, sea and balmy Aruba breeze, we are just fine and can deal with what will keep us and others healthy.

    20. Renee says:

      a dangerous question for some, considering we don’t know when this will end. I am enormously grateful that my partner is who he is and as wonderful as he is. It becomes even more apparent when we are left to rely only on each other. If anything, our togetherness, albeit forced, is giving us each a new level of understanding, appreciation and love. We are oddly, blissfully happy in our quarantine. We are reading the same books, watching the same movies, discussing them all and looking out for each other. Kind of strange and wonderful.

    21. Rose says:

      How about being indefinitely separated from your romantic partner?? We don’t dare travel to each other’s homes.

    22. NoMoreGold says:

      After 32 years of marriage, I sent my spouse and our 30y/o adult child packing and filed for divorce. Never agreed on parental duties…which is why our 30 y/o was still living with us. Sad part is I actually love my spouse. Just couldn’t continue with the disrespect and lack of contribution by both.

    23. Danielle Remp says:

      As after 9/11, the sound of air traffic above is gone. Covid-19 will be the new milestone, I’m afraid — a new museum, bringing back tourists.

      It is actually dark at night here, now; something I’ve never seen. In the city that never sleeps, those who fled turned off their light.

      Until all our funds have been assigned beneficiaries and arrangements have been made for the disposal of our bodies, we wear protective masks to take the elevator to the lobby; those who can, use the stairwells.

      We wear gloves to carry packages and leave cartons unopened for 24 hours.

      We do our best to be at the end of a flattened curve.

    24. Laurie says:

      Married 20 years. Space and the ability to keep ourselves busy in separate rooms of the apartment (with doors!)for most of the day and a lot of the evening, keeps us sane. We are very self-sufficient and used to tuning each other out (after living in a tiny apartment for years at the beginning of our relationship).

    25. Bob S says:

      Grow up. Dump some of your PRIDE. It is up to you when you wake up if you want to be nice or if you want to be an idiot.
      Been married 40 years and am still on our honeymoon.
      Tell her you Love her at least 10 times a day.
      Kiss her at least TWICE a day for 10 seconds each time !! Works wonders.