Q - My story surprises even me. Years ago, in another country, I fell in love. We were still teenagers but ambitious and smart. Our parents knew each other and helped us go to university together in the city.
Eventually, we married and emigrated to North America. My husband was very good in his field, was soon hired and doing well.
I got a job, too. We were building a new life.
However, my husband is very handsome and was flattered by the attention of a young woman. I was devastated when I discovered this. But being proud, I just walked out of our house.
Flash forward many years – a couple different girlfriends for him, a sometime-boyfriend for me – and along came the pandemic.
My ex was living alone, as was I. We’d stayed in contact and suddenly realized it was foolish to live alone; me in a tiny apartment and him in the home we’d shared.
I moved back and we self-quarantined on separate floors for two weeks.
We’re perfect partners for the times, knowing each other’s needs, moods and faults. The future’s not certain but the present is working just fine.
We’re still together, though I haven’t yet given up my apartment.
Can This Last?
A - Good relationships can last indefinitely if there’s a mutual effort being maintained. It helps a lot, too, if there’s love. But you didn’t mention it, though I suspect you’re hesitant to do so, since it didn’t keep you together in the past.
But that was then, when you were both younger, and after experiencing dramatic changes in your lives – new country, new lifestyle, new attractions.
Enjoy the partnership you’ve revived together, but be aware that the environment will likely change again – whether it’s a Phase 2, then Phase 3 of the pandemic, there’ll be a new normal that also affects how you live.
At some point you two will have to decide how to define what you share – is it a place of safety, comfort from the past, a loving, long-term commitment or a combination of all that and more?
Q - My best friend for years and I are now in our mid-40s. She’s divorced, has two “tweenaged” kids. Their father’s not been involved with them for years.
My friend has had a rough go – random jobs, no support system and both her parents are deceased.
She has had some serious depressions.
But we were once so close, starting from first meeting at summer camp and always keeping in touch.
Now we live in different countries. And though I’ve tried to keep up the friendship, she disappointed me terribly regarding my daughter’s wedding last month.
I invited her to join the event on the Internet (no large gatherings were allowed).
She replied by text, “No, I won’t join. I don’t want to be online that day. I just want to be out somewhere.”
What am I supposed to do with that answer? Ignore it and just never speak to her again?
A - It’s understandably difficult sometimes to be the bigger person.
Especially when something that reflects your pride/happiness for an adult child – a daughter’s wedding – is met with the equivalent of a ho-hum.
But your capacity for empathy is needed here. It’s a responsibility, knowing her struggles and losses.
Inside, she’s aching for the eventual joy of a family wedding and getting her kids to a safe, happy place.
For now, her only thought is to hide. Forgive her. Stay in touch.
Q – We’ve been friends for 10-plus years and include our partners in get-togethers.
But I've started noticing, once the quarantine started, that I'm always initiating the conversation.
I casually raised this and asked if it's because he's been busy, but he responded that he never really has much to occupy him.
He brushed it off like a joke, which he does with a lot of things.
How do I convey that if I'm always the one making the effort in this friendship, I may not want to continue forever?
A - Look to the different element within this 10-year friendship: It’s the pandemic with its period of quarantine.
That’s when you noticed a change in the dynamic – that he either says little, waits for you to initiate conversation or laughs off any real response.
He’s bored, possibly anxious, perhaps depressed.
Initiate a different conversation with him, about how the coronavirus scare has affected him.
Ellie’s tip of the day: Strange times sometimes draw couples closer. If you want it to last, work at it.