I started my marriage during a pandemic. I know we are not alone in this—any other couple who was married this year share these unusual circumstances with us. My husband and I did not expect this next chapter of life together to begin this way. Who could have predicted that when we got engaged back in July 2019, COVID-19 would hit and the entire world would shut down only months later?

I won’t go into the long and complex details of what it was like planning a wedding during this unprecedented year (there’s enough of that here) but I will say that beginning my marriage in the midst of a pandemic has provided me with some insightful, tough, and necessary life lessons. I absolutely believe that getting married when everything seemed to be going wrong in the world around us gave us a whole lot of hope for our future together.

4 Life Lessons I Learned From My Marriage in a Pandemic:

1. We learned the value of making the best out of a tough situation. 

We weren’t in a global health crisis when my husband and I first got engaged. In fact, we were in a very different place altogether. We had traveled to Canada where we got engaged. Soon after, I spent two weeks traveling through South and Central America on a work trip. I then came home and got promoted to my dream job. Then COVID-19 hit. And I lost my job. I spent five months unemployed. I lost my health insurance. The world shut down. Travel was banned and everything changed.

It felt like all the sweet things in life turned sour and we had nothing to look forward to anymore. However, life has a funny way of working itself out sometimes. After all that time on unemployment, I finally did land a new job. And eventually we were able to have a small, healthy, and safe wedding in the fall as we planned so long for. It wasn’t how we expected things to go, but after time things started looking up for us – and that was worth celebrating. We focused our energy on the happy things and learned to take the bad with the good, which will undoubtedly happen again during our marriage.

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2. We found happiness in celebrating the small things.

Isn’t it true that negativity breeds negativity? All that time I spent unemployed I was in a pretty negative head space and it quickly became contagious. I was bitter about the pile of rejected job applications, the fact that I was isolated in my home for months on end, and the unknowns around our wedding happening because week after week it seemed less and less possible for us. But my husband kept me grounded. He didn’t let my negative energy take over.

Each day, he reminded me that the future is unknown and things would work out for us the way they were meant to. And he was right. Together we celebrated all the little milestones. Every job application where I did get an interview…second interviews…any job offers.

Each day of good news where the State of Maine slowly reopened businesses and expanded its rules around gatherings. Things didn’t turn positive all at once, but we celebrated every inkling of good, which decreased the negativity and ultimately led to more and more happiness.

3. We learned how to be more patient and flexible. 

It’s crucial to be patient and flexible in life. This lesson was never truer to me than it was this year. I had to learn the hard way that while it’s awesome to have a general direction of where you want to go in life, sometimes life throws obstacles at you and you have to roll with the punches. I thought I had my career, wedding, and travel plans all mapped out. But, COVID-19 changed all of that in what felt like the blink of an eye.

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My husband has always been more patient and flexible than me. He had an easier time adjusting to our ever-changing plans. However, this lesson was still valuable to both of us. We learned pretty quickly that having a sketched out blueprint was practical, but that things would shift in reality.

Together, we braced ourselves for switching plans at the last minute and readjusting our goals to match the world around us. Undoubtedly, this will happen during our marriage with or without a global health crisis at hand. It’s so true that life is unpredictable and we need to be patient and flexible with ourselves and with each other every step of the way.

4. We reassessed our closest relationships for the better.

If there is anything I can honestly thank COVID-19 for, its for forcing us to reassess our closest relationships. I became extremely aware of the relationships I put way too much work into and the ones I was ignoring without realizing. There were people who came through for us when our wedding plans had to change. There were others who weren’t happy we were still moving forward. We had friends and relatives from all walks of life and various opinions show us support, love, and warmth.

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This led to my husband and I really giving extra thought to the people we surrounded ourselves with. We started putting more love into the relationships that deserved it and less into those that didn’t. We learned that it’s not always about surrounding yourself with like-minded people, but rather the ones who actually show up and demonstrate their support. This process showed us where we were doing too much, where we were falling short, and how we could make changes for the better moving forward. It really takes a village to get through life and we feel like now more than ever we know the best people who make up our village.

Beginning my marriage in a pandemic was not easy.

Things worked out as they were meant to, even though we didn’t plan for things to start this way. We had the perfect wedding, not in every way we imagined, but perhaps in the ways we needed. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but if my husband and I could start our marriage with the state of the world as unstable and uncertain as it has been in 2020, I believe we can survive anything that life throws at us. So far, our marriage is stronger because of the things we went through to make it happen. And I’m so grateful for that.