Like many others, I assumed that the pandemic would be bad for relationships – parents and kids, siblings, friends, spouses. Not only do we all cope in different ways but there was a lot of enforced time together. There were months when there was nowhere else to turn, nowhere else to go. Surely that would put a strain on the best of relationships.

I’m not addressing most of these situations (although I have heard that many parents, having had the opportunity to spend so much time with their children are, contrary to expectations, not eager to return to their jobs!) but rather marriages. Marriages that were already strained, relationships that already had significant fissures, did not do well during COVID. Many fractured unions did not survive.

And according to some recent studies, strong marriages got even stronger. How could this be? Many possibilities are suggested – having someone else to lean on during tough times, really investing in the relationship over the last year (the more you give, the more you care) and learning not to take our spouses for granted, perhaps even rediscovering our appreciation for them.

These are wonderful and unexpected by-products of a challenging year, and as some of the research suggests, perhaps the result of a challenging year. It’s really heartening to see.

I think that there is one more factor that the article didn't touch on. In spending more time with our spouses, many of us were able to rediscover how much we like them, how much we enjoy talking to them, the ideas we like to share, the topics we like to discuss. Pre-corona, we were all pretty much running on empty. Who had time to talk to their partner other than to make sure the mortgage was paid, the garbage and recycling were each taken out on their correct days, and that someone was picking up the kids from school? We were too busy rushing from here to there, from work to soccer to music lessons to dinner to laundry; we didn’t connect.

The pandemic enabled a reconnection of sorts. There was an amazing gift of time – seemingly endless amounts of it – time to take a walk, time to talk – about trivia and the meaningful, time to revive long-dormant dreams, time to discuss future goals, changes, reinventions.

Away from the bustle, we were free to consider new possibilities and to refocus on the good in our spouses, to enjoy each other without the pressures of being somewhere at a certain time (unless that somewhere was in front of our computer screen in a room down the hall!)

Of course, we can’t diminish some of the terrible, terrible outcomes that some experienced during the last year and a half; I’m not pretending it was all rosy. But there was some good, apparently some significant good. There was some real time invested in growing and deepening our marriages, time whose benefits we are now reaping and which we don’t want to lose.

So no matter how our future shapes up, whether we are able to work remotely or must go to the office (or a hybrid), let's continue to appreciate the gift of our partner, to see their good, to spend quality time together, to be grateful for it and to keep our conversation elevated and our dreams alive (while ensuring that yes, those bills do get paid).