So many married couples have experienced these extended periods of isolation caused by Covid extremely stressful. For many, the lack of social contact with friends and extended family slowly eroded the sense of joy shared in community that extended into the home as well. Married couples found themselves on full-time duties as the sacred space of home was converted into a place of employment, schooling, daycare, meal prep and more. Suddenly, the clear boundaries between home, work, and community was lost. These fuzzy boundaries created by a global crisis meant that your home was now the place for all things to occur.
Our work-life balance in North America has developed over many decades with the view that our homes are private spheres reflecting the lifestyle decisions of the occupants. Home owners take time and care to craft daily living spaces with love and personal tastes. Our homes normally reflect aspects of who you are culturally, and the values you share with your spouse. Sentimental artifacts from shared experiences and travel adorn homes of married couples who have had the privilege to experience trips both local and abroad with one another. Inviting friends and family into your home is a social activity that cultivates a sense of community and care beyond the home. People feel included in your life and get a personal glimpse into the things you value and experience together. The ways you host a meal, small gathering, or party often demonstrates to the people in your life that you care for and love them.
In the 1980’s, “cocooning” grew as a social movement where couples decided to stay home more to entertain with friends. It was no longer viewed as boring or mundane to prepare a gathering in one’s home instead of a restaurant. It also reflected the economic times as well. People had less dispensable income during the recession in the late 80’s and many people focused on paying off high interest mortgages for homes purchased during those years. As children of these families grew, access to disposable income became more common than their parents had at the same age and stage. Young adults in their twenties had support from parents rather than student loans, bursaries, and scholarships to fund college and university degrees. Many young people graduated from post-secondary schools without any debt. Second generation Canadians such as myself did not have as much financial support as third or fourth generations did and do.
In the late 1990’s, young couples preferred to meet up with friends for dinner instead of hosting parties in what still felt like student dorms. The advent of the “open table” phenomenon grew and more and more young people began to meet in restaurants as large crowds. The early 2,000’s also witnessed a decline in wedding ceremonies. It was common practice for young people to live together before or if deciding to tie the knot officially. Traditional religious weddings also declined across all faith groups, as did large elaborate celebrations with guests numbering in the hundreds.
As matrimonial ceremonies were put on-hold due to the pandemic, many young people delayed formal plans to officiate and celebrate their vows. It has provided a prolonged period of pause for young couples to consider the reasons for marriage, the roles of culture, tradition, and religion in marriage, and the purpose of marrying in modern times at all. The sad reality of Covid resulting in deaths numbering in the thousands in Canada has also given everyone cause to reflect on the sanctity and purpose of your own life.
A Christian-informed perspective on marriage places Jesus at the center of the union between two people. My clients who identify themselves as Christians safely and freely testify that Jesus is at the core of all their life choices and decisions. With my proclamation of “me too”, religious Christian couples share a mutual understanding that a life together is more than a human decision. Christians place Jesus, His life, His message, and His gospel as hub in the heart and in the home, and where blessed in children. Where this is the starting point for two people deciding to “join in Holy matrimony”, marriage as mission is established from the get-go. There is no question about the purpose of marrying your soulmate. A marriage as mission framework assumes that your lifetime together is cradled in the Holy name of Jesus and becomes part of God’s divine plan for the two of you.
Reclaiming and recreating ritualistic practices in your home as simple as grace before meals, lighting a candle while you reflectively pray in silence, decorating for Christmas or Easter, or reading passages from the bible alone or with your spouse are all good ways to slowly feel the presence of that which makes the marriage-bond spiritual. Attending your local church, parish, or congregation will also help you to reconnect to those aspects of your faith that have been put on hold or disrupted due to this global crisis. The world is only now beginning to understand what happened, the feelings for which will require sometime, if not years to process. A period of mourning over the losses of so many, and the trauma created by years of severe restrictions, separations, and ruptures in personal decision-making will take time to heal. The good life in Canada was threatened. For many multi-faith-based couples, prayer will be an important part of this healing journey of recovery.
Do. Think. Feel Well.