Watching a Partner Change Is Hard. Accepting It Can Be Harder.


As a result, Ms. Scharf said she became “so fragile and needy,” adding, “I feared I was being a burden on Robby” to the point that she “worried his compassion tank would run out, or he’d lose patience with me and want to leave.”

Ms. Scharf said that “facing our difficulties head-on” with the help of therapy and leaning on friends to offset some of the support she sought from her husband, has been integral to her and Mr. Scharf’s ability to accept the internal and external changes in their life. Doing so, she added, “not only gave me new respect for him, it showed me what I was made of, too.”

The Scharfs are far from the only couple for whom recent years have been a crucible. Jenna Hewson, 34, a marketing and communications specialist for a law firm, and Christopher Hewson, 34, an engineer for a company that specializes in hydraulic fracking and reservoir simulation, had been married for five years when the pandemic hit. The couple, who live in Calgary, Canada, went from enjoying separate work lives outside of the home and expecting a second child to working from home together while parenting their 3-year-old. Then came the loss of their baby, who was stillborn.

The ensuing grief, Ms. Hewson said, left her and her husband “both so broken and hurt.”

“We had nothing to give,” she said. “There have been times following our loss where separating seemed like the easier route.”

The Hewsons learned how to be more patient with each other with the help of a therapist that they saw together and then separately, as well as nightly check-ins after their son went to sleep, which helped them remember that they are on the same team, not opposing ones. “Understanding and appreciating how your partner manages upheaval is half the battle,” Ms. Hewson said. “Knowing what to expect from your partner can alleviate a lot of confusion, disappointment and resentment.”

Loren Raye, 35, and her husband of four years, Matt Bosso, 40, who live in Bridgewater, N.J., with their 3-year-old daughter, experienced a different kind of loss in the pandemic that put a strain on their relationship. Ms. Raye, who was a radio host for the TJ Show on 103.3 AMP Radio in Boston, was let go from her job and could no longer be the family’s breadwinner (at the time, her husband, who worked as a music director for Entercom, earned less than she made).



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