Divorce in the Time of Coronavirus

The winter of 2020 has been very mild in my area. I am a teacher and colleagues were begging for just a day or two off school to get a mental break, that rewarding rest we crave. Some time to recharge our batteries to return with a fresh smile and rested eyes.

I am a science teacher, specifically biology. When we first heard of this new virus in China we were not scared, we were intellectually curious. And China seems so far away. We had no concerns. We didn’t stock up on supplies. We listened of school closures with jealousy. Not because we want an epidemic nor a pandemic but just some respite. Just a break.

Then it was spreading, we used our knowledge to teach or students. We talked about viral replication, why soap is better than hand sanitizer, how children don’t seem to get that sick from this so they shouldn’t worry about themselves but that we don’t want grandparents, parents, or people with other conditions getting this either. Wash your hands. Don’t touch each other.

Additionally, I am dealing with another type of stress. My husband and I are in the process of getting divorced. All of things that led us to that point, well, it’s too much to put in an introductory blog post. He would like to remain married. I cannot stay married to him. He doesn’t understand why we can’t work it out. I think that trying to teach someone who has lived for 50 years how to have empathy and compassion is something I am not willing to spend the rest of my life doing. My feelings are hurt because he wants to stay together, tells me he loves me when his actions show otherwise. His feelings are hurt because he considers me his best friend and I want nothing to do with him.

Maybe I will get into all of that, maybe not. We have different perspectives. I can’t see them being reconciled. We have 2 kids. A thirteen year-old daughter and an eight year-old son.

When it was announced that schools were closed in Pennsylvania, I was glad. Teachers could see last week that eventually we would close and epidemiologically, closing earlier makes more sense than closing later. Kids are still being fed although they aren’t getting counseling they would normally have in school. Some homes aren’t great. Some kids like coming to school to escape their homes but for the epidemic, we sent them all home.

I am a planner and we made a schedule to follow so that my kids aren’t spending 24/7 on a screen but how do I distance myself from my soon-to-be-ex-husband when we are stuck in our home together, possibly for 4-6 weeks?

I am reading, I’ll try blogging. I am grading late work my students are turning in. My husband is hoping that this lock-in will give us time to talk. That this intense togetherness can heal our problems. I think it will only allow me to practice patience. My husband has attention issues. He always needs to be the center of it. He always wants the family in the same room, doing things together. He thinks this is great, the greatest. Maybe I would too if I felt valued in this relationship.

I know I am lucky, I am not stuck with a physical abuser. I have only been threatened with physical violence by my husband who “loves me”. But that’s not something you do to someone you love.

Three weeks ago as we were turning papers into our mediator, he was saying he can’t make enough to live on his own and pay me child support. I am literally holding my breath waiting for him to refinance our shared home so I have a down-payment to move out while we wait for the divorce to be finalized. Three weeks ago he was scared and worried about making enough to pay me child support for the kids. He kept telling me that I was asking for too much, when I was asking for $500 less than his pay stubs and the state office recommended. Now, he is telling me he is going to take a leave from work if they offer it. He wants to just stay home with the whole family here. So I am just stuck, waiting, listening to his panic and also his refusal to do anything to help his situation.

I stocked up on wine and the grocery store should have more. I am breathing and practicing patience as much as I can.

Today I have already unloaded the dishwasher twice. When does this become a joint effort? Thankfully, he has been leaving to hike everyday. Thankfully, I have time to read. Thankfully, our schedule is keeping the kids’ noses in books a few hours a day. Thankfully, he does not physically abuse me. That has to be a real concern for some people right now.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has resources available. They have people there to chat. There are so many things that could be worse than this but this also is not easy. My prediction of 4-6 more weeks of this is based on what I know about diseases and how long it took for things to settle down in China. I am hoping we are not being held that long. I am hoping he returns to traveling for work soon so we have a break. I wish I had moved out years ago so I would not be stuck in this situation. But I am not one to cling to regret.

What can I do?

  1. Read – Currently reading “Truly, Madly, Guilty” by Liane Moriarty
  2. Blog – tell others how this is going for me
  3. Bake – we are out of bread and english muffins
  4. Board games – forcing the kids to pick one game every night
  5. Meditate – admittedly, I am bad at formal meditation practice but great at taking a breath in the moment
  6. Yoga – the studio is closed but I have some resources to create mini-flows at home
  7. Stream – all those Netflix and Hulu shows that I never have time for
  8. Draw – once a passion of mine, something that has died but can be revived
  9. Knit – Saving this for later

Anyone else stuck inside with someone they don’t appreciate? How are you dealing?

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s