COVID-19’s impact hit when my wife and I had been married for less than two months. She had immigrated from full time work and a city life in Lithuania less than two months before that to a small valley in northern Utah, United States, 20 miles south of the Idaho border, without the ability to work or legally drive. She was still adjusting to life in America, and we were in the early stages of adjusting to life together in the same home. Surrounded by nature and mountains, we often spent these days being outside taking hikes, going to hot springs, skiing, and improving the yard to my new wife’s standards.
The increased isolation seems to have brought my wife and me closer, alleviating the loneliness and also creating tension. Each conflict incited a fear of losing the relationship which seemed to make the marital transition rockier.
My tendency to downplay dangers was tempered by my wife’s caution and my felt obligation to make her feel safe. I recall visiting my family in the summer of 2020 and being the only two of over 20 visitors sporting a face covering. I felt embarrassed as several people requested we remove them, and my father had “honked” my nose by squeezing my mask as one would honk a bulb horn. I initially felt my mask attracted more attention than my presence as person, and self-consciousness about it diluted my ability to truly enjoy myself with loved ones.
I had some sense of connection with others through my full time work at a residential program for “troubled” teenage boys and my private practice. I continued to conduct therapy sessions in person with a mask throughout the pandemic, which allowed me to meet my need for connection.
I must say that the pandemic hit at the best time for me. My wife’s disappointment in not being able to leave the United States until her US residency was granted was alleviated by the laws that prohibited travel for anyone to travel internationally during that time. I also began my private practice at the very beginning of the pandemic, which seemed an opportune time to find clients as hardships imposed by the pandemic demanded more therapy. Despite moments of loneliness, the pandemic brought personal and professional growth.
Licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice and Gestalt therapist trainee at Gestalt Associates Training Los Angeles
Utah, United States of America
This page first appeared in the UKAGP Newsletter. View the Newsletter here.