We asked three Italian couples what effect has the pandemic had on them.
Let’s start from a key point: when the Italian singer Tiziano Ferro, famous for his romantic songs, sang to us that “love is a simple thing,” he definitely had not considered the coronavirus factor.
Already when the song was released in 2011 some of us, with broken hearts, did not believe much in the words of the songwriter. But today, we can say with absolute certainty that his theory has been widely debunked. In fact, love is definitely not an easy thing when you find yourself four (or even more) months apart, confined and without knowing when it will end.
Love is even less simple if you live on different continents and have not yet been able to see each other because of restrictions on travel to and from countries defined as “not safe.”
Love is a challenge that is far from simple when you find yourself, from one day to the next, having to share a really small apartment 24/7 or having to postpone — sometimes to cancel — weddings, living together and all those other couple-related projects so much dreamed of, hoped for and meticulously organized.
Love may also be a source of many worries and fears when your partner falls ill with an unknown virus such as the coronavirus.
Albert Camus, in one of his most famous novels set in Oran, Algeria during the pandemic plague of the 1940s, wrote that, during the lockdown, lovers were the most interesting subjects. He felt this was true especially those lovers who were forced to be separated. The author was incredibly fascinated by the unpredictable effect that the pandemic had on their feelings and narrated that “husbands and lovers who had the most complete trust in their partner discovered themselves jealous,” while “men who thought themselves superficial in love rediscovered fidelity.”
In relation to a new pandemic, during another century, may we find similarities with the condition described by Camus? Even if in the time since his novel took place a technological revolution has upset our relationship as well as our daily life? And more generally, how have couple relationships been changed by the coronavirus? What effect has the pandemic had on lovers?
We have asked these questions to three couples that had different experiences during the lockdown.
Let’s read what they said.
Italian couples and Covid
Take two young people: Simone and Laura, who had been living together for three years and planned to get married on March 21, 2020 to welcome the colorful Italian spring, had to cancel their wedding as well as their honeymoon of their dreams in Japan.
Take another couple: Filippo and Gea, who live in a 40-square meter flat which is very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. She, a student with previous lung problems, and he, a civil servant, suddenly find themselves spending most of their time at home, without much space and without a routine.
Finally, take two Italian doctors: Tiziana and Paolo, living in Switzerland and working in two of the wards most affected by the pandemic, the emergency room and intensive care. He contracted the virus and was forced into confinement while she, in addition to working in the hospital, had to provide for him and their home in every way.
A cancelled marriage, a forced cohabitation, an unknown disease, dreams that fades away and a handful of worries, definitely the perfect ingredients for a non-happy ending story.
However, in relation to the unpredictability mentioned by Camus, it must be said that in a certain sense, the writer was right. Although our couples were worried they were falling into a deep couple’s crisis and scared by the experience of the lockdown, months later the end result left them positively surprised.
Love, care and laugh
Our couples had, in fact, two great and rare abilities: to laugh about it and to take care of each other as perfectly described by Paolo: “What strengthened our relationship was to rediscover the generosity and dedication of my wife during my illness. She did not let me miss anything, she took care of me and was able to face everything with a smile.”
To defeat the boredom of seeing each other constantly in the same environment doing the same things, Filippo and Gea put on music loudly and started dancing or created a picnic on their tiny balcony with lots of chips and sauces.
Simone and Laura, to down-play the sadness of a postponed wedding, decided to get drunk and cook a nice fish dinner on their no-longer wedding day March 21.
In these ways, the couples found a way to add value to time (which they suddenly had an abundance of) by spending it together as best as they could and “to give it a positive meaning and make the most out of it.”
To best answer the question of how relationships changed with the lockdown and what effect the pandemic had on lovers, I think there are no better words than those of Simone and Gea.
Looking into his future wife’s eyes, Simone said that “the up-side is that I love her (Laura) even though we’ve gotten to know each other so well that we no longer have any inhibitory barriers with each other.”
Gea instead realized that she was surrounded by so much love and that she was not alone in the world, saying that: “If a person comes home from work and is afraid of infecting you and takes care of you anyway, in short, that’s love. This has given me a lot of strength and, of course, it has united us as a couple but also as individuals.”
As already stated by the poet O’Hara: “In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love,“ and by whom we are loved, I would add.
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