In general, Covid quarantine started out quietly terrifying while I tried to look on the bright side. What a wonderful opportunity to hangout together. We’ll spend quality time watching movies with oil-popped corn or playing cards. The cabinet, full of board games, will be revisited. We’ll wait out these few short weeks until, like magic, coronavirus will all go away. It’s been nine months and I’ll spare you the Captain Obvious realities.
As the constant proximity and togetherness began to chafe an otherwise happy relationship between my husbandand me, I took stock in my options. Building a second story on my house. I ruled that out as slightly impractical and a tad out of my budget. Moving to Fiji might do it, I thought. Same objections prevailed. I came up with a winner: establish better boundaries.
My alone time felt trampled on and in the course of the pandemic my home had shrunk. My beautiful workspace, with family pictures, silk flowers and a door that closed, was soon replaced by a folding table in the middle of the living room for me. My husband needed the nice room to work from home. It seemed the physical closeness my husband and I shared caused an odd synchronizing of bladders and even in the bathroom I couldn’t find uninterrupted solitude.
I devised a plan. It required assertiveness and some new rules. From now on, a closed door meant I needed my space. Or I’m taking a moment. Do not assume you’re being punished or excluded; I simply want some time alone. Satisfied, I told Wonder Husband about my wishes and he agreed to comply.
The next day, the planets aligned for me to put my boundaries up, no exceptions. My husband would be gone for hours, work and volunteer activities were complete, the dog let out, my COVID-19 test had been negative and all was right in my world. I would give myself a spa treatment in the middle of the day.
I poured cedarwood scented salts into the tub and ran some hot water for a bath. Candlelight flickered against the ceramic tiles and I rolled my shoulders under the steaming water while the portable speaker soothed my mind with a Serenity Playlist. I’d done it. Broken the code of quarantine and found some “me” time. Then I heard footsteps.
“Can I come in?” said my husband.
After almost forty years of marriage it seemed silly to say no. But what was the point of alone time if I didn’t lay down a little Granny Law?
“No, I’ll be out in a minute.” It pained me to do it but it would’ve hurt my psyche more to cave. Afterall, the barrier was artificial because the door didn’t lock. I heard the steps retreat. Minutes later they were back.
“How about now? Is it all clear?” he sounded almost desperate.
“We talked about this. It’s important to me.” Again, the footfalls walked away and I heard water in the kitchen running.
And just like that, I asserted my rights as an individual in my own home. Feeling proud and satisfied, I smiled to myself. Boundaries? Firmly established, thanks to yours truly.
The bathroom door opened at that moment and as I was about to rage, I see my husband reach for a band-aid in the cabinet.
“Yeah, I wanted to surprise you with flowers, but I decided not to disturb you. Then I cut myself when I trimmed the stems putting them in the vase. Happy birthday, sweetheart!”
At that point, I felt like two bits waiting for change as my Grandma used to say. Chastened and sad, I dried off, left my spa experience and went to check on Super Spouse. How is it the one time I attempt a personal line in the sand he cuts his hand? Hopefully, when the next opportunity presents, our timing will be better. And timing is everything.