Upon entering my third decade of marriage to my lovely wife, I must admit that the Shelter In Place restrictions have exacerbated the most challenging, inspiring, infuriating, thrilling and delightful experiences I have ever encountered. Even under the best of circumstances, relationships are under physical, psychological and economic pressures. So, with the resumption of pickleball play and without a visible illness to guide us, how does one select a group of friends and family members to let into our bubble? This so called “safety bubble” typically begins with your partner/spouse and evolves into family and friends who have practiced similar vigilance. I am very sensitive to not infecting my wife because my joy and happiness are correlated to hers. I believe that anything that you value and want to last needs attention and care. This reminds me of a story: On their 50th anniversary, the man was asked to give an account of the benefits of a long duration marriage. The man deliberated and responded, “Well, I’ve learned that marriage is the best teacher of all. It teaches you loyalty, self-restraint, forgiveness, humility and many other qualities you wouldn’t have needed if you had stayed single.”
The stakes are high as to who you let into your bubble. If you or any of your circle of friends or family makes one unwise decision, the plus-one on the pickleball court can be Mr./Mrs. Covid- 19. The biggest part of your decision is awareness of feelings and open and honest communication with your significant others. I have been told that husbands are the best person to communicate and share feelings with because they never tell anyone since they aren’t even listening to begin with. Helpful in your decision of safety bubble inclusion is to see differences as a strength; where sharing goals, active listening and being supportive is accepted and encouraged. For us guys, just remember that when you talk with your partner, the conversation will be recorded for training and quality purposes.
At this moment in time, our household bubble is confined to my wife and myself where the greatest challenge has been the sharing of household chores. I have to learn how to play a bigger role, while my wife has to reduce her criticism for doing chores the wrong way (after all, there are more than one way to vacuum, do laundry or rinse dishes). I’m usually the one who makes coffee in the morning, so the other day when my wife handed me a cup of coffee (made by her) while winking at me, I was never more scared in my life.
In conclusion, the pandemic has placed our need for belongingness, emotional closeness and intimacy to a test. A friend of mine told that he came home one day and was greeted by his spouse who was dressed in a stunning lingerie. She said, “Tie me up and you can do anything you want.” So he tied her up and went to play pickleball. This also reminds me that recently a man asked his wife if she would still love him if he got old and fat. To which she replied, “Yes, I do.”
As we begin emerging from Shelter in Place, we’ll all have to decide who to include in socializing and pickleball play. There has been a wide variance as to how people approached the virus and it is important to respect the differences. Patience as to how this plays out will be imperative.