The Happy Marriage Manual 2.0 (Pandemic ed.)

by Emily Kemme
marriage during pandemic

For both your sake and mine, I wish I could start this blog post by displaying a stunning pictorial banner of our most recent trip to Santa Fe. It would depict the high desert’s undulating black highways, dotted with sage and cacti, capped by deep blue sky. Or there could be a grimier photo of Dr. K. and me in bike gear after cycling 50 miles on May 17 in the Santa Fe Half Century. But, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, I don’t have those photos.

I probably would have posted a picture of artistically plated ahi tuna sashimi. That’s my go-to, must-have first course whenever we are in Santa Fe to celebrate (in this case the 37th anniversary of marriage) in Geronimo’s hushed dining room — a place where Southwest Wild Horse thematics meet French cuisine. Ahhh, those silver dollar-sized buttermilk scallion pancakes, a sprinkle of caviar, the drizzle of wasabi aioli on tuna. But I don’t have a picture of that, either.

Instead, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the morning of May 17, 2020 found Dr. K. and me suited up for our grand cycling excursion to Ault, Colorado. We rode a total of 25 miles on lesser traveled county roads, with a view of the Rockies to the left. After saluting the town of 1,843 people, we turned around to cycle back home.

In Ault, Colorado, you could enjoy these fine dining establishments: Gray’s Cafe — order a cinnamon roll the size of your head; El Dorado Mexican Grill — fine margaritas that make for a tough bike ride home; or Cinn Stations — Krautburger or cinnamon roll, it’s your choice!

What with the new pandemic normal, we are still feeling timid about venturing out to a restaurant. That means no meals were enjoyed en route. After parking the bikes in the garage, we ordered a couple of killer burritos and a half gallon of to-go margaritas for lunch on our patio. Overall, it wasn’t a bad day, but it wasn’t Santa Fe.

For most people, the pandemic has put a crimp on marriage and the things partners enjoy doing together.

But just because we’re living through a pandemic doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do with your significant other. Keep in mind it’s important to dial down expectations. Ault’s cinnamon roll offerings notwithstanding, there is still an extensive list of permissible pandemic activities to keep your marriage lively.

To guide you, I’ve assembled The Happy Marriage Manual 2.0 (Pandemic ed.), which you can peruse at your leisure. To get the most out of The Manual, I recommend multiplying certain activities by 100. If you follow my suggestions, I guarantee you will feel like you’ve accomplished something. Don’t blame me if it wasn’t the something you wanted to accomplish.

Interspersed throughout The Manual, look for the suggestions notated with a 🌶 to spice up your marriage.

marriage during pandemic
A highlight of marriage during a pandemic is Date Night. Spend time with your sweetie filling up the gas tank for next to nothing. Grocery store gas discounts make it seem like your car is running on air!

The Happy Marriage Manual 2.0 (Pandemic ed.)

  • Toe Touches (Mon-Wed-Fri): Exercise is good for marriage. It keeps you in tip-top shape, clears the cobwebs, and sweat makes you shiny. 🌶 Look at all the models wearing shiny lip gloss. They sell sexy lips coated with layers of gloss. Without the gloss, it would just be lips. Have you ever looked at lips closely? They’re not that attractive without shiny gloss. Multiply toe touches by 100, but only on paper. No need to get too physical. It’s a pandemic, for God’s sake. You need to be careful.
  • Cleaning Schedule:
    • 🌶 Step 1: Buy a package of Day of The Week underwear for each of you to keep track of the cleaning schedule. Use the color-coding to help keep tasks assigned to each partner by day.
    1. Empty dishwasher and reload. Repeat 100 times weekly.
    2. Count the dust molecules in a sunbeam. Practice catch-and-release techniques with the dust. Repeat 100 times daily.
    3. Wipe and sanitize kitchen counters, making sure there are no streaks. If you leave stubborn streaks, you have to start all over again. Rules are rules.
    4. Count how many flushes it takes for the blue dye in the toilet cleaner to disperse. Compare with all household toilets and keep track on a spreadsheet to see if any one toilet is hoarding water. I don’t need to remind you to repeat 100 times weekly. You already know this one.
    5. Vacuum the carpet and have a competition to see who can get the most number of consecutive stripes per square foot.
  • Sunday is Cut Your Loved One’s Hair Day:
    • No training, barber shears, or any haircutting skill other than that time you and your sister gave all your dolls mohawks is needed. All that is required is the urge to improve the ones you love.
    • Legal note: unlike back rubs, hair cutting rights are not reciprocal or transferable.
  • Go shopping in your closet:
    • Ever wish you had a personal shopper who totally gets your taste and doesn’t argue with you about trying to update your look? Well, now you do! Multiply by $100 the number of items of clothing you haven’t purchased because you have no where to go. 🌶
  • Date Night:
    • Head to the gas station with your significant other and fill up the SUV for $8 bucks. Clean the front and rear windshields for bonus points. Who cares if you’re never going anywhere again. Who cares if the windshields are spotless because all the SUV has done for the past week since your last date was sit in the garage. Clean is good. You never know where those coronaviruses are hiding. Repeat 100 times monthly.
  • The $600 Elephant In the Room Discussion:
    • After the date, return home and explain how great it is that you no longer need to purchase makeup (except for eyeshadow and mascara, because the eyes are the best way of communicating anyway). Explain to your significant other how much money you’ve saved because you no longer wear makeup. 🌶
    • Next, broach the $600 Mask Project, also known as the requirement of owning a mask for all seasons and outfits. Even if you never go anywhere except to the grocery store and to fill up the SUV on Date Night.
  • Discuss vacation plans:
    • Talk over whether you’ll ever leave the city again.
      • Note A: Dr. K. says if we do, it’ll be in a mobile home, along with the billions of other Americans touring America in mobile homes.
      • Note B: we lived in a mobile home for 9 months. That amounts to 279 days, 6,696 hours, 401,760 minutes, and 24,105,600 seconds. After that, I swore to never climb up the rickety metal steps of another one in my lifetime. Help me out here, guys.
  • Pistachio Eating Guidelines:
    • For some reason, your significant other’s habit of cracking and eating unshelled pistachios has become supremely annoying ever since COVID-19. I’ve written a verse to help you handle this predicament:
    • Pistachio Eating (set to Green Eggs and Ham)— I do not like pistachios in shells. I do not like them, Dr. K. Do not eat them in a room, do not eat them while we Zoom. Do not eat them in a box, do not eat them with a fox. I do not like them here or there. I do not like them anywhere. Would you, could you in your car? Would you, could you in a tree? No! No! I would not eat in them in my car! I could not eat them in a tree! Dr. K, keep your pistachios and shells away from me! (Repeat 100 times on the hour until the message sinks in). 🌶
  • Watch TV series:
    • The ones about dysfunctional marriages are best. Watching other couples fight makes your marriage seem perfect.🌶
  • Adopt a pair of collie puppies:
    • To give you something to deplete all that time and energy on your hands, adopt two collie puppies to add to your two older collie crew. Multiply the number of dogs you now own by 100. Take a deep breath and divide that number by 100. It makes owning only four dogs seem a whole lot easier.
marriage during pandemic
Lily keeps us busy. Her ears are officially up now.
marriage during pandemic
Luna pauses for a second. Ears are still tipped as of this writing.

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Elina Coulter July 4, 2020 - 1:31 pm

Here’s the other example. The subject is “The morning.”
“the morning of May 17, 2020 found Dr. K. and I suited up..”
In this case, “I” is in place of an object.
I think the best test is to remove “Dr K” and try the sentence without it. In this example, it would read, “the morning of May 17, 2020 found I suited up…”
I share these comments in a spirit of trying to be helpful and scratch an itch. I hope it’s not too annoying!

Emily Kemme July 4, 2020 - 1:32 pm

Like I said, I find the discussion interesting. I think the first sentence in question (about the photo) could go both ways. The second one would be better using “me” because it’s passive voice. I’ll change that one, and continue mulling over the first. I hope you’ll check out my other blog posts — and my two novels!

Elina Coulter July 4, 2020 - 1:30 pm

I agree with the link you posted, but I think I see incorrect usages in this sentence, “Or there could be a grimier photo of Dr. K. and I in bike gear after cycling 50 miles on May 17 in the Santa Fe Half Century.” In this case, the “I” is replacing an object, not a subject. I think there’s one more example, which I’ll paste in another comment.

Elina Coulter July 4, 2020 - 9:39 am

Thanks for sharing this fun read. I love the collies! Note to author, check use of “I” vs “me.” Most of those sentences should read, “Dr K and me.” (If, when you remove the other person’s name, it sounds wrong to say “I,” it needs to be changed to “me.”)

Emily Kemme July 4, 2020 - 10:06 am

Thanks for talking about grammar, Elina. I always love to work through these questions. In this instance, I think the use of “Dr. K. and I” is correct. I could substitute the pronoun “we,” because we are both taking action. If it were just me taking action, “me” would be correct. Another way to think of this is we are both the main actors in the sentence, so two subject pronouns are needed.…/specials/1837_aae/page37.shtml

Paulette Cohrs July 3, 2020 - 10:22 am

Hmm – only for a backrub in return. Bargaining could be another chapter in your book.

Emily Kemme July 3, 2020 - 10:23 am

So true.

Paulette Cohrs July 3, 2020 - 10:20 am

Read this aloud to my spouse. So close to home! Sharing

Emily Kemme July 3, 2020 - 10:21 am

Thanks! We could add, “Reading aloud to spouse,” to the things-to-do list!

Jan Lavin June 30, 2020 - 8:45 pm

A fun read..and happy life

Michelle June 29, 2020 - 8:02 am

Add sell a house in a pandemic and build a house in a pandemic….

Emily Kemme June 29, 2020 - 1:53 pm

Now that is a challenge. At least you’ve got something to keep you guys busy. 🙂

Julie Villemsen June 29, 2020 - 7:42 am

Love it!! We’ve been painting the interior of our home, stripping outdated wallpaper, going through house and emotied our basement, followed by a successful yard sale. Oh and we powerwashed the house too! That was interesting!! I’ve added walking 3 miles a day to my morning routine as well! Instacart shopping has become a skill as well as finding smaller markets that are more accommodating. Flowers are important and my self-created pots look cheerful. Evenings are filled with porch gazing and beer.

Emily Kemme June 29, 2020 - 7:44 am

Your summer sounds much like ours. We’ve been working on the yard and patio projects, and lots of walking and patio-sitting. I gave up on Instacart after the time when they bought 7 jars of salsa. We just head to the store early in the morning, with masks!

Kay June 27, 2020 - 3:24 pm

Grand humor, girl! Really enjoyed reading this, especially after coming in sweaty from a bike ride to Wyoming…just kidding about the Wyo, part, not the bike riding.

Emily Kemme June 27, 2020 - 6:20 pm

Nice job on the bike ride! It was a hot one today!

Sooz June 27, 2020 - 9:13 am

Ha ha to Joanne! I bet she is having fun. Emily, you have done it again. Classic humor. I had some great laughs and smiles. It is amazing how we can entertain ourselves. Thanks for adding to the enjoyment we have all around us if we are able to pursue it. Luckily the world and economy are starting to re-open… some of the business’ are not. Sad. But enjoy your marriage! 🙂

Margie June 27, 2020 - 1:29 am

Love this Emily! You have a wonderful talent for hitting on things that have us all nodding and yelling in agreement:”Been there!’ “Thought that!!”

Emily Kemme June 27, 2020 - 8:28 am

Thanks, Margie. That talent to state those things gets me in trouble, at times.

Janice June 26, 2020 - 8:52 pm

Loved it!!

Lynne June 26, 2020 - 8:41 pm

Oh, Emily. Can I ever relate to this! Really funny. And altogether too true. PLUS, the paella recipe. I might actually be able to make this one…it sounds soooo good. But saffron? Crumbled? What IS that? Where would one buy it? Doen’t sound like it’s in the spice department in a little jar. It’s that “crumbled” that troubles me here.

Emily Kemme June 27, 2020 - 8:33 am

You can definitely make the paella recipe, Lynne! It’s very straightforward. As for saffron: yes, it is sold in little jars in the spice section at the grocery store. Inside the jar will be a plastic package with threads of saffron. Empty that into the palm of your hand, and using the fingers of your other hand, crumble the threads. Or you can place threads in a small bowl and crumble from there, or pound with a pestle. If you decide not to use the entire package, spoon out the amount you’d like. The amount sold at grocery stores isn’t going to overwhelm the dish. It’ll give it a lovely fragrance!

Joanne Eskildsen June 26, 2020 - 8:11 pm

Your married life at least sounds more exciting than my single life! Well, just barely!

Emily Kemme June 27, 2020 - 6:21 pm

Well, that would be saying something! Your life is always full of excitement — bet it is in this new normal, too.


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