PEI

You share how the pandemic affected your romantic relationships

Valentine's Day has some turning to thoughts of love and romance, so we asked you, dear readers, how the pandemic has affected your relationships. 

COVID-19 brought some couples together and pushed others apart

Bianca and Kyle Gallant of Covehead used the pandemic for some romantic time, and are now expecting baby number four! (Brittany Clow/Memories by B Photography)

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned households around the world upside-down, and romantic relationships with it. 

Many people have had to stay and work at home with their significant other, spending more time with them than they ever have in their lives. 

Valentine's Day has some turning to thoughts of love and romance, so we asked you, dear readers, how the pandemic has affected your relationships. 

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.)"

Loreena MacRae and her husband Mason posted a lovey-dovey photo of themselves in a courtroom. 

"We ended up getting engaged and eloping during the pandemic! We've only grown happier being together more often," MacRae said. 

Loreena and Mason MacRae of Charlottetown eloped, getting hitched in a courthouse ceremony during the pandemic. (Valerie Arsenault)

They had originally planned to marry on Halloween 2021, but with everything changing so rapidly with COVID-19 they decided to elope and save themselves, family and friends the stress of trying to plan.

My partner moved in for 'two weeks while this blows over' at the start of the pandemic ... he is still here.— Jon Raymond Dykstra

"We have no way of predicting what the future holds so we said 'We may as well!' and got married at the courthouse. We still hope that we can have a reception at some point this year but we just want to keep everyone as safe as possible," she said. 

"My husband is 85, so except for daily four-kilometre walks, we stayed home!" Karen Mellish-May wrote on the CBC Prince Edward Island Facebook page.  

"It was the happiest year of my life. We enjoyed each other's company with no stress or distractions. It was just like a second honeymoon."

Karen Mellish-May says staying at home with her husband for the last year has been 'like a second honeymoon.' (Karen Mellish-May )

Jon Raymond Dykstra got a live-in love from the pandemic.

"My partner moved in for 'two weeks while this blows over' at the start of the pandemic to keep his 80-year-old grandfather safe," Dykstra commented. "Here we are 10.5 months later and he is still here and we are happier than ever."

Sarah Gale and her fiancé Rodger Branje moved from Ontario to St. Peters Bay in January 2020 after purchasing a historic bed and breakfast, planning to marry that spring. The lockdown put that on hold, though, so they decided to wait till spring 2021. Then, Branje's daughter's summer wedding was postponed till spring, so they shelved their plans. 

Rodger and Sarah Branje at their home, the Points East Coastal Inn in St. Peters Bay in eastern P.E.I. (Julio Sanchez)

"The past eight months have been tough on many fronts: our new tourist-based business quiet, our Ontario events-based business quiet, family in Ontario we couldn't see," Sarah wrote. "So at the end of November, we made the decision to end the year on a positive note and tie the knot!"

They live streamed their home wedding to family and friends around the world, their eldest children even taking part in the ceremony by phone.

"A perfect evening to end a less than perfect year!" the new Mrs. Branje said. 

No physical distancing here

"COVID-19 cancelled my husband's vasectomy back in April, right after I gave away all our baby stuff," said Bianca Gallant. "I'm due this month with surprise blessing number four." 

Tissy Wight says the above ultrasound illustrates how her romantic relationship has been affected during the pandemic. (Submitted by Tissy Wight)

Tissy Wight of Charlottetown simply posted a photo of her fetus in utero.

"Well, does that sum it up?" she commented. Several others commented they are also expecting babies, including Shelby-Lee Richard of Summerside.

"There's at least a few in my family and we're all due two to three weeks apart," Richard said.

So close and yet so far

The pandemic left some couples suddenly in a long-distance relationship.

"I had to move back to [Newfoundland and Labrador] with my parents and my boyfriend is in P.E.I. Now I haven't been able to visit because the bubble is closed," said Kimberly Clarke. 

The bridge has been closed to everyone, including lovers, unless travelling for essential purposes. (John Robertson/CBC)

Tracy Gavin of P.E.I. says her partner lives in New Brunswick, and they usually spent every second weekend together. But not during last spring's lockdown, and not now either since provincial borders are closed to non-essential travel. 

Had some great chats, meals and time to reinvent ourselves.— Lorraine Clements

"We haven't seen each other in person since November — we missed our anniversary date, Easter and Christmas and soon we will miss Valentine's Day: all the special days as a couple. I'll be so glad to see my partner again, hoping and praying things calm down soon so our Maritime provinces can bubble again." 

Nancy Starno and Paul Chambers have been a couple for 35 years, but COVID-19 has kept  them apart for months at a time, Starno wrote.

Chambers lives in Connecticut and the lockdown prevented him from coming to P.E.I. to be with Starno for the summer as he usually would.

Starno couldn't live with him in the U.S., because she said as a permanent resident she is required to be on the Island two out of every five months, or 40 per cent of the time. She's there this winter but says she will return to P.E.I. in May with a heavy heart. 

Nancy Starno, left, a P.E.I. resident, and her boyfriend Paul Chambers, right, have been separated for several months during the pandemic. (Submitted by Nancy Starno)

"I would not be on the Island if it weren't for Paul. He is the one who told me about P.E.I., I was riding in the car with him when we saw the house I eventually bought. He spent many, many hours fixing the house up to make it livable," she said.

"This year it fell into disrepair because he was unable to come up to maintain it ... I am devastated to have to face another six months up there without him."

'Make the best of it'

The week the pandemic broke last year, it was Lorraine Clements and her husband's 50th wedding anniversary. The restaurant was booked and they were ready to celebrate March 14 but COVID restrictions began. They watched TV at home, she said. There were birthdays and other celebrations missed.

"The silver lining to these non-events is that we played cards, watched the Americans make fools of themselves and had some great chats, meals and time to reinvent ourselves along with staying healthy and COVID-free," Clements wrote. 

"We had decided early on that we would make the best of it for each of us and it worked (so far)."

It's hard to be single

"Certainly makes meeting people who aren't on P.E.I. difficult," posted Josh Hirtle.

"It's been great for my self-esteem ... I have an excuse to blame being single on," quipped Tanya Nicolle from Charlottetown. "It's not me, it's the pandemic." 

More from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a bachelor of journalism (honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca

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