Two weeks before the shutdown started in Boston, my boyfriend and I moved in together. After a year of dating, we were ready for the next step and fell in love with a duplex apartment in the historic South End. Typically, he travels Monday through Thursday for work, so I flew my mom in to help me unpack, nervous we’d be living in boxes. Before quarantining started, we really only had the weekends together—and we had to cram as much as we could into those precious three days.
As we talked about March, we mapped out the days we’d go to Home Depot, when we’d donate our unused items to Goodwill, and excitedly discussed our housewarming party. We even dropped off art to be framed. We could have never predicted that a pandemic was looming—and we’d soon have more time than we realized to set up our home together.
We are coming up on 70 days under the same roof and just about zero social interaction with other humans. What’s surprised us the most is just how well our crash course in cohabitating has gone. I work downstairs in my office, while he has taken over our dining room table for his desk. We take breaks to snuggle, watch TikTok, play ping-pong, go for walks (with masks and all), and try our best to go to bed at the same time. I’ve never had any doubts about our relationship in the one-and-a-half years we’ve been together, but if anything, this experience has made me even more confident in our connection. We respect and love another, take the space we need, and, well, we laugh constantly. More than anything, we enjoy one another's company, even if it's sitting in silence reading or drinking champagne on our patio.
I’m excited for the world to open up again—but I’m thankful for this experience that’s provided an unexpected silver lining. If we can make it through this, we can tackle anything.
Here, 12 other couples share the most surprising thing they’ve learned about their partner during quarantine.
“We don’t shy away from expressing how we feel toward one another.”
“We've really learned how much we care about one another. Before the pandemic, we hadn't expressed our emotions verbally. About a month into seeing one another, we established that we want different things in the long-run—specifically, he said fatherhood isn't for him, and I very much want to be a mom. But we had such a strong connection and so much fun, laughter, joy, etc. together, we decided to keep dating and doing our best to stay in the moment to enjoy what we have.
Over the course of the past year, that connection has only grown stronger, and we truly see one another for who we are. It might sound cheesy, but this pandemic has served as a reminder that we have to enjoy it every day and make the most of the present because the future isn't guaranteed. And in that spirit, we've been extraordinarily open with how we feel about one another. We love each other so much, and we're not shying away from saying that anymore. We'll cross whatever bridge we need to when we get there.” —Anonymous, dating for a year
“We both need solo time to be our best selves for one another.”
"My husband is a pilot, and since we’ve gone into quarantine, we’ve been home together for almost three months! That’s the most time we have ever spent together! We were high school sweethearts, but he was already in college, and then we were long distance for a bit, and later he became a pilot. So for us, we were actually more used to being apart and having to savor any time we had together. Our instinct was always to do everything together when he is home. We learned quickly that we were missing our solo time.
Since he is always home now, we have learned how to enjoy each other’s company and still take time for ourselves. While we love watching shows together, I really missed reading my books, and he missed playing his video games. We learned to better communicate about how we want to share our time, and now I can enjoy my book while he plays his game next to me, and neither of us has to feel pressure to put aside our personal activities. Amidst all this uncertainty, this time together has been a blessing.” —Jessie and Alex, married three years
“It’s taught us to be stronger communicators.”
“Last week, I had a panic attack and then cried harder than I’d ever cried before in front of my partner. I was upset because I felt like he was not listening to me when I was trying to express how lonely and isolated I felt, especially since he’s been fully preoccupied with his video gaming and now golfing every day. I learned that I really need to express my needs to him more firmly before it gets to a really low point, and I think he learned that he needs to be there for me without me having to ask him to be.” —Anonymous, dating three years
“We actually like each other!”
“The most surprising thing I learned about my husband is how much we enjoy each other’s company. We’ve always said that we ‘complete’ one another, and this period of social distancing has really put that to the test. I have friends who are itching to go out with others and who are suffering by not spending time with other couples or with other friends. While we look forward to the day when we can easily socialize with friends, we are very content being with one another and with our kids. We’ve increased the time that we spend together, and it’s only strengthened our relationship. We go on daily walks and binge watch tv shows. I’m even more excited to grow old with my best friend than I was before COVID-19. I hope and pray that our kids find this type of fulfillment with their respective partners as they grow older.” —Amy and Elad, married 20+ years
“We’ve rediscovered our ‘tiny magic.’”
“Before the quarantine period, Robert and I were working insane schedules and rarely got to see each other. We'd bicker about who had to make dinner, who had done laundry previously, and all the basic daily chores that seemed impossible to accomplish while dedicating every spare bit of energy to our jobs. At first, it was rough being unemployed. Living today means dedicating your life to capitalism and putting yourself aside. Both of us have always been taught to and lived to build a career and 'succeed' at any cost. That cost just happened to be the sacrifice of our own identities and all the little things that made our relationship magical.
We've been married for a year now. Yet, the last two and a half months have brought us closer together than any period in our relationship. Uninhibited by work, we have found a bit of bliss in cooking together, and tackling chores in fun ways like dressing up in silly outfits, getting creative with our endeavors, singing and dancing through yard work, reading to each other, taking time to express ourselves with art and projects, and verbally pointing out 'Tiny Magic.'
Those are the moments that we experience baseless joy, and express gratitude for them to each other. For example, while gardening in a forested patch, I came upon a grove of wild Lily of the Valley, which was a flower used in our wedding. I dug one up, potted it, put it on our kitchen table. When you're going a thousand miles an hour down the ‘career highway, it's not just easy to miss these moments, it's absolutely impossible not to overlook Tiny Magic. I know that moving forward out of this, though our lives will inevitably pick up pace again, we will always be mindful to schedule time to go in search of our ‘Tiny Magic.’” —Chelsea and Robert, married one year
“Our love languages are different—but that’s okay.”
We’ve learned that our love languages are different, but knowing them can make us even more compatible. We’ve come to realize that we both need different things from each other in our relationship. What one of us considers love affection isn’t necessarily received as such by the other. By figuring out and discussing what our individual love languages are, we can give each other exactly what we need, and that has strengthened our relationship.” —Alex and Jessie, together nine years
“I’m amazed by his selflessness.”
“My husband is on the front lines in the medical field, working at a hospital that has had patients test positive for COVID-19 almost from the beginning. He works more than 12 hours every day, making sure they are comfortable and spending time with those who don’t have loved ones that are allowed in the hospital. From the way his coworkers speak to me about him at social gatherings, I know he is very well-liked, respected, and a super hard worker.
Social media has become such a big part of social distancing, as the one way everyone can still stay connected. I’ve noticed my husband has been getting tagged more often in people’s posts, thanking him for stepping up and helping at work beyond his regular duties. I’ve watched him go above and beyond to ensure that both of our parents have face masks and PPE, and he’s ordered extra masks online to mail to my dad, who is extremely high-risk but isn’t able to stop working.
He checks on his friends, offers food and toilet paper, and anything extra that we’ve got to help anyone in need. He knows how our neighbors are doing, even the ones I’ve never met before, because he wants to make sure everyone has their basic needs. I always knew he was strong; it’s one of the many reasons I married him. But seeing his altruism shine when he’s surrounded every day by sickness and negativity is awe-inspiring. The last few months have absolutely strengthened our relationship, and have made me want to do better in my own life, and together.” —Casey and Christopher, together five years
“It’s given me a glimpse into our future.”
“The last few years, he's often lamented about his distaste for cooking and would only ever make the most simple dishes. He went from just plain pasta to making a Poppyseed Viennese Whirl that he saw on the Instagram of a ‘Great British Bake Off’ contestant—and did all of the metric conversions! I think it changed our relationship a bit because we've talked about the division of household chores among us, and now we've got more flexibility because he's gained so much confidence in his abilities. We've talked a lot about how our lives will look with kids and how we'd like to run our household, so with him cooking and baking, we've got more ways to team up and keep things running now so that we can hopefully be prepared for kids down the road. It sounds very simple, but it's been great as we've been in a small condo for weeks together.” —Patrick and Jose, together four years
“My wife has kept us fed—and happy.”
“Before the quarantine, I already knew that my wife was into online shopping. At least two or three times a week, I'd receive packages from different online stores. But now that we've been stuck at home, she's been glued to her mobile phone even more! It seems like she's joined every Viber marketplace out there. Luckily for me, though, only essentials like food are allowed for delivery, so I get to enjoy the fruits of her online shopping addiction. In the past couple of months, she's ordered cookies, cheesecakes, pies, ice cream bars, buns, pastries, instant noodles, soju, vodka, even kimchi! Tomorrow, we have ube cream buns coming.” —JB and Renée, married 15 years
“We’ve been introduced to habits we didn’t know one another had.”
“Early on, my husband was upset with my choice of ‘daytime’ TV. I am always working, but I often have the TV one, so it cycles through the news, talk shows, and a soap opera. After a couple of days, he was like, ‘how can you watch this stuff; it's so dumb’! I laughed because I agree to some extent, I just have a routine, and I like my routine. Much of the time, I’m not paying attention. I told him I was sorry my daytime choices were so disappointing and that clearly his opinion of me has dropped a few points, but hopefully, he could still love me.
What I learned about him as that somehow, despite me being the one watching the news, he always has some important/interesting tidbit of information that somehow I don't know! Maybe I am just too distracted with that soap opera while he's reading something important on NPR’s website!? We are delighted together and with the time this has allowed us… other than my daytime TV, of course.” —Jme and Bryan, married 15 years
“We’ve created a workout routine we both love.”
“My husband is in alcohol sales for on-premise accounts (hotels and restaurants). Before COVID-19, he was out for work late generally schmoozing, networking, having wine dinners, and so on. Now that he’s working from home, we do a daily workout and gosh darn it; he’s more obsessed with workouts than I am now. And I’m a workout nut! Every day he asks if we are doing our workout once we clock out of work at 5 p.m., And it’s so sweet. It’s been fun competing against each other to do more burpees in a minute, and he’s gotten into much better shape—as I have too!” —Sara and Trevor, married nine months
“We’re each other’s rocks.”
“The last month and a half living through the quarantine together has shown me many things about my wife, Josephine. She is my rock, and I hope I am hers. Our relationship has been one of peacefulness, love, and affection. We kiss, hug, and show kindness to one another in times of happiness and sadness. Cute nicknames, date night dinners, holding hands while watching Netflix, going for a walk through the West Village with our masks and gloves on, taking photos of budding spring flowers, all these things go hand in hand in strengthening our already strong bond.” —Vincent and Josephine