Advice to Husbands During the Coronavirus Pandemic

One last bit of advice for the full-time working parent. When you “come home,” realize that your partner is sapped bone-dry. She’s probably carrying some guilt for yelling/snapping/screwing up school/allowing the kids to watch some sort of Barbie fairy trash. So swoop into the domestic space with some major pep in your step. Shower your kids with attention and patience. When your partner asks you to do something, respond with red dancing lady emoji gusto. Radiate goodwill. - The Washington Post

Husbands, during this time of social distancing we know that you will have many new questions about married life. You may find that your formerly biddable and happy wife now gives you short answers and wry looks as you relax in your customary chair after “work”. She may even slam her pots and pans in the kitchen with more than usual force while she is preparing your dinner. Your children, too, will likely be less well-presented than you have been accustomed to expect, when they greet you for their evening kiss.

You may well wonder what you have done to deserve such treatment but these changes are to be expected during this period of enforced co-domesticity, as you and she are compelled to share a small (and growing ever smaller, she might say) space for day after day. Your abrupt entry into the domestic realm will undoubtedly be disorienting for both you and your wife. But it is important for you to realize that as you intrude upon her previously well-managed routine it is your duty to take every step in your power to ensure marital felicity. To that end we have assembled these helpful tips to guide you in supporting your spouse.

Always be positive. After a day of home-schooling your increasingly feral children, dodging thrown toys and books, tripping over the family dog, cutting chewing gum out of hair and listening to endless repetitions of the “Baby Shark” song your wife will not be in a mood to hear complaints. So you should not bring up your concerns about keeping your job, the back pain you are getting from sitting in a spare dining room chair at a child’s desk all day (however un-ergonomic that arrangement may be), or how you couldn’t get a decent internet connection for your Zoom call. Instead you should introduce pleasant, upbeat topics of conversation. Find something to praise in the way she is keeping your home, the dress she is wearing, or how she has done her hair that day.

Keep up your looks. Your wife does not want to gaze across the dinner table at an unshaven, sloppy face. You may enjoy working upstairs in your pajamas, with uncombed hair and a five-day beard, but before you enter the domestic space take some time to prepare yourself for her. A shower, a shave and a pair of well-tailored slacks paired with a crisp dress shirt will show her how much you appreciate her hard work. A jacket and tie and a bouquet of flowers - if they can be spared from the garden (best to ask her first) - may even be needed if she has had a particularly hard day.

Distract her from her domestic cares. It is possible that on some days your wife may not complete all of her household tasks by the time you “come home”. The sight of unwashed dishes in the sink or a pile of laundry waiting to be folded is a sign that she may be feeling overwhelmed and discouraged by the challenges of keeping up your home. This is the moment where you need to reach for some of that “red dancing lady emoji gusto”. However tired you may be after eight hours of watching puppy videos on Facebook and dropping covid facemask memes in your team’s Slack channel, you must summon the energy to entertain her. Did she love your guitar playing when you were both in college? Now would be a good time to bring up your old instrument from the basement and serenade her with some of her favorites while she finishes folding the laundry. Or if you have a gift for humor you might tell her amusing anecdotes as she is drying the dishes. These efforts will not go unnoticed!

Make her comfortable. Once her daily round is done and your wife can finally sit down you should go out of your way to make certain she is able to relax. Put on calming music. Jazz and classical are safe choices. Bring her a glass of wine. Rub her shoulders. She may insist that she just wants to read her book in peace but do not be dissuaded. She simply doesn’t want to burden you with her cares. Foot massages are always welcome.

Give her space. If after all your efforts your wife remains distant and snappish you may find that you can do no more. In that event you should give her the time and space she needs to make her own way back to married bliss. Take the children and the dog for a long walk (really long, as long as you like - it would be difficult to make it too long) but be sure to maintain social distance while you are out and about. When you return your wife will be back to her normal, pleasant self.

Practice these simple behaviors every day and you will be able to continue enjoying a happy marriage, even after our period of isolation has ended.