Navigating the Pandemic as Newlyweds

I was talking to a friend last week, sharing stories about our weekend. She and her husband had celebrated their first anniversary as a married couple, in true quarantine style, with homemade pasta and a bottle of chilled wine that had been left on their front porch by a dear friend. She made a comment that struck me as interesting – “Our first year of marriage was certainly not what I imagined.”

In that first year, they both had major changes with their careers, bought a home together, and most unplanned of all: weathered 3 months (and counting) of a global pandemic. While many of those events were welcome and brought joy to their relationship, she delved deeper in her reflection that it was more the amount of change, challenge, and cooperation between the two of them that she didn’t anticipate. She, like many newlyweds, thought that the first year would be a breeze, a blissful journey together living life. I can relate. I myself just celebrated nine months married to my husband – also qualifying us as newlyweds navigating a different first chapter of marriage than we envisioned.

As my friend and I continued reflecting and sharing thoughts on what has been unique for us as newlyweds during a pandemic, we came to the conclusion that there are actually quite a few positive outcomes for our respective relationships. Initially, my mind thought of all of the things we were missing – going on a belated tropical honeymoon to escape the Minnesota winter, postponing double dates with our friends, and as trivial as it is, entertaining family at our home while sharing and putting to use our generous wedding gifts. And for my friend, thinking of how she had planned something far more extravagant for their first anniversary, but was more or less forced to choose a simple night at home.

Through this casual conversation with my friend and later in an intentional conversation with my husband reflecting on the impact of this time on our relationship, I came away with a new perspective on the situation we’ve been in.

Here are four positive relationship outcomes from navigating the pandemic as a newlywed:

  1. More time together
    We’ve spent more time together since early March than we would have under normal circumstances. My husband still works 40 hours away from our home each week, so we’re not together 24/7, but we do spend the evenings and weekends together. On a typical week, I would likely have had dinner plans with a friend, and on the weekends, we may have spent time apart doing various projects, errands, or simply have separate plans. But those times apart have been very few and far between the last few months. We do try to maintain a balance of separateness versus togetherness while we’re home, but we’ve certainly tipped that scale to being together more often than not. While we’re still in this honeymoon stage of our marriage, we’ll take that as a positive outcome, and we’ve cherished the time together we would have not otherwise had.

  2. Increased collaboration
    Pre-pandemic, I would handle most of the household and grocery shopping, honestly because I enjoy the process. We’d often go to the store together on the weekend for our weekly shop, but my husband would also stop at specialty stores throughout the week for a treat – a loaf of bread from the neighborhood bakery or some locally sourced meat from a butcher near his work. We were used to picking up things from the store when we felt like it, and we enjoyed the ability to each go out and shop when and how we liked.

    However, when we started to roll back our time spent in stores, we started to collaborate far more than we ever needed to before, on something as simple and effortless as deciding on weekly meals and making sure we were stocked on household essentials. This change for us required clear communication and conscientious thinking about what we would need for ourselves as well as the household in general. For a while, we were starting out each Saturday morning with a casual planning meeting about what we were running low on, who was willing to go where to get what, and how we were going to do this in a safe manner.

    As time has passed, and our state has begun to open up, we’ve found ourselves being less strict about our time out in the world, but shifting into that process helped us discover our collaboration style with each other. I know we would have figured this out eventually, but looking back, we’re both grateful to have experienced this and strengthened our communication skills that collaboration requires.

  3. New date norms
    We love to go out for date night in the city to try a new restaurant. Spending hours in the romantic ambiance tasting appetizers, cocktails, and of course, enjoying the main course. We haven’t gone to a restaurant since early March, and we miss it so! However, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t enjoyed date nights in the last few months. We’ve had at least one “date” a week the entire time we’ve been at home. It just looks different. Now, we usually order takeout, try to sit in our backyard or in a park (weather permitting), and intentionally avoid mundane conversation topics, instead focusing on topics that we look forward to discussing. Again, this is something we likely would have figured out eventually but having circumstances that made us change up our normal routine and force us to get more creative helped us establish a new definition of what date night looks like for us. It encouraged us to see beyond the glitz of the trendy restaurant and focus in on the intentional time together.

  4. Renewed perspective
    I’d like to think that both my husband and I were always grateful for our health, our jobs, our family, and frankly for each other, but we had many times throughout the last few months where we would verbalize just how thankful we are for the things we easily take for granted on a daily basis. The phrase commonly used when exchanging vows, “in sickness and in health” certainly carries more weight during a health crisis. Sure, our life has been inconvenienced, but we understand the realities that face so many other couples. Being grateful has given us a renewed perspective that helps us understand why a concept like resilience, which Prepare/Enrich taught us about, is so important. We put in work through our premarital education to establish skills to help us weather the various challenges and adversity life throws our way. And if we’ve learned anything, we’ve learned adversity will come, it will be difficult, and the days will get darker before they lighten. But that knowledge helps my husband and I appreciate each other and why we value working on our relationship. It’s a perspective I’m grateful we have so early on in our marriage and hope other couples have been able to find.

Despite neither my friend or I anticipating a global pandemic occurring in our first year of marriage (I mean, who would?), we both agreed there were positive outcomes for our relationships. When I was talking with my husband, preparing for this post, the ultimate conclusion we came to was that we feel closer and more connected than any other point in our relationship. That may be a byproduct of being married and settling into our identities as a husband and wife, or that close and connected feeling may be emphasized by the situation we’ve been in the last few months. Either way, we agreed that we’re really enjoying this first chapter of our marriage.

Whether you are a newlywed or not, let us know what positive relationship outcomes you’ve experienced during the pandemic!

12 thoughts to “Navigating the Pandemic as Newlyweds”

  1. This sounds very familiar and my husband and I are celebrating our “halfiversary” on Friday. Although we have had some struggles, we also are so very thankful for this special time together that we would have never had pre-pandemic. Our days before the pandemic were busy with very little time for much else, but now our nights consist of reading together, making dinner together, and going for walks/to the store. We are in the process of buying a house, but are taking our time as we have so much of it right now. Makes me thankful toGod that our first year of marriage has been full of so much growth!!

  2. We still live with our parents until we get married in early September. However… we have spent nearly everyday together since the middle of the month of April. We are engaged. I have appreciated his time with me as more often then not, we spend time at my parents house. We love each other and can’t wait to be married to one another! I appreciate him so much.

    1. Was married February 29th and we often look at that as the last possible weekend to be married in “normal” style. Both of us are essential workers, myself in an assisted living facility and him in technology. We very quickly had to learn how to communicate our needs and feelings as anxiety and stress was sky high. I’ve actually begun writing a memoir about my experiences.

  3. My fiancée and I met at church last December.
    We were both widowed, she four years ago, and myself in 2018. We are both in our 60’s, and knew right away that God intended for us to spend the rest of our lives together. We announced our engagement in January, and began our preparation for a mid-July wedding.

    Because we had both been married for many years, we recognized the most important task was to learn as much as possible about each other, during the seven months we have to prepare for life together. As we close in on our wedding day, we are now more confident than ever, in our decision to marry, and eventually, grow old together!

  4. Thank you for sharing. I am encouraged by your experience. i am single. and have learned to appreciate my friends and family all the more and especially the difference (admittedly i struggle with the diffeences )

    David

  5. Yes! Unique situation to be a newlywed but so relatable. My husband and I got married in the fall so had a few months under our belt before the pandemic but that was all lol. We enjoy quality time naturally so it was nice, just a lot more than we planned lol. We have been able to use a lot of time for decisions and like this mentioned increased collaboration but it was also weird not being able to do some normal life together or with people. Its nice to hear the positives about it as its not all easy, and like I said unique newlywed experience! Thanks for the read !

  6. I can relate to this – I somehow managed to get married about 3 days before lockdown began in March this year, so it’s been an unexpected start to our marriage! We’ve not been able to do normal life as a married couple at all – haven’t seen friends, haven’t been out to a cafe, and haven’t actually been in the office since before the wedding, with both of us working f/t from home in our small apartment. Still, we are very thankful that we managed to go ahead with the wedding, especially as many others weren’t so lucky.

  7. This post reminded of my relationship with my husband too. We’ll be married a year in July. Before the pandemic we were always on the go and busy with our individual jobs. Now we spend a lot of time together and life isn’t so busy. We do our “date nights” in ordering take out and watching a movie together. Our faith has strengthened also by continuing daily prayer and finding different talks given by people in our church online. It has been an interesting first year of marriage, but it’s a blessing being able to spend so much time together and continuing to learn more about each other as husband and wife. 🙂

  8. I read my husband this post and he commented “ain’t that the truth”. We were married , bought a house, got into a car crash, I got a concussion and we both had injuries, bought 2 new cars all in our first 3 months of marriage and then the pandemic started… definitely not all planned but man God has taught us exactly what you wrote too. Thanks for writing this- we all need reminders and encouragement of these things and that God is good!

  9. My husband and I live in Canada and were lucky flight to get married on March 22, in his parents’ living room with our immediate family. It was certainly not the big wedding we had planned. Although we missed having our friends and family present, we are thankful for the simple wedding and to have been a able to get a marriage license and a wedding together in one day just before the lockdown started, even though our original wedding date was two months later. We woke up that morning not realizing that we would get married that evening.
    It was a crazy whirlwind beginning. Our (now online) school didn’t take a break for our marriage, so our first month consisted of juggling time together and glued to a screen studying for finals.
    We appreciate how much undivided time we have together, but we also experienced something we weren’t expected to feel so soon in marriage – loneliness. Especially since I am working at an old folks home, the times we socially distance meet up with friends are few and far between, and neither of us have seen our family before our wedding. It’s stage times. We’re very thankful to be weathering then together, but we can’t help but wonder what “normal” married life is like, if there is such a thing.

  10. So much truth in this. My husband and I were supposed to be married April 4, but ended up moving up our wedding to March 22, one week into pandemic lockdowns. We lost all our dream wedding plans and had only 16 people at our ceremony (immediately family only instead of the 550 guests we had planned). Navigating so many of the hard moments of heartbreak, confusion, doubts, questions, sadness, envy, and resignation has been so good for us as we drew close to our sovereign God and cared for one another. We have grown in listening, in crying together, in hoping, in praying, in patience, and in joy. We have learned to see the love of each other in new ways and realized the things we’ve taken for granted. We don’t know what “normal married life” is, but we have truly grown to love one another in new ways as we have navigated new married life during this pandemic. We continually reflect on the goodness of God and his grace for us, not understanding, but knowing this was his plan all along.

  11. Was married February 29th and we often look at that as the last possible weekend to be married in “normal” style. Both of us are essential workers, myself in an assisted living facility and him in technology. We very quickly had to learn how to communicate our needs and feelings as anxiety and stress was sky high. I’ve actually begun writing a memoir about my experiences.

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