lockdown love stories sangita patel

Lockdown Love Stories – Part 1

Meet three local couples who are keeping romance alive despite the pandemic

The pandemic has been hard on everybody, and it has certainly taken its toll on relationships. Romance takes work, and during a lockdown, it also means getting creative and taking care of the little things like making time for your significant other. In our four-part series on lockdown love stories, we check in with 12 local couples who have previously been featured in our How They Met column to ask them how they are managing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what tips they might offer those who are looking for a little bit of relationship help to weather the storm. We hope you like it.

Sangita Patel and Sam Patel

Sangita Patel has been gracing television screens across the city as an entertainment reporter for Entertainment Tonight Canada for more than seven years. Known for her envious BFF relationship with Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. the Rock), she is also crazy about CrossFit — a fitness obsession she shares with her husband Samir (Sam) Patel who is chief of radiology at Guelph General Hospital. But can those who CrossFit together stay together even during a pandemic?

What has been the hardest on your relationship during the pandemic?

Sangita: Where to start (laughs)! It’s been hard to find one-on-one time, with the kids always at home. It’s important to make time for date nights. Sometimes it’s just the little things, like when Sam takes my spot on the sofa!

What did you learn about your partner that you didn’t know before the pandemic?

Samir: That she is a very slow walker (laughs)! We have been going for frequent walks and we definitely have a different pace.

How have you kept the romance alive during this time?

Samir: Taking time to talk and eat meals together, even with a full house.

Sangita: Romance? What is that (laughs)? There isn’t really the normal romantic gesture during a pandemic, but it’s about rediscovering our relationship on a different level. Seeing him more often and realizing I still check him out!

Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod

Not surprisingly, Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod, of BodyBreak fame, met at the gym when Johnson walked up to McLeod, who was on the pec deck, and asked, “Can I work out with you?” We asked Hal to talk about their love-in-lockdown experience.

What would you suggest in terms of advice for other people who are going through this for the first time during a pandemic?

I guess a simple statement is ‘know your lane?’ Know what you do, like I do plumbing and electrical, and Joanne does the finishing and the woodwork. So let them have their space in their lane and their expertise and trust them. That’s one of the things, we don’t offer our opinion until we’re asked for advice on things.

What has been your favourite kind of pandemic date night idea?

Hal: Skating on the lake. I built a lake two weeks ago, a very large lake, very large rink. And so she said, “Oh, yeah, we’ll have date night on the lake.” And so we did that. We skated around the lake the other night. It was so nice.

What’s the first thing you plan on doing as a couple once the pandemic is behind us?

Travel. I think that’s what most people will do. And we want to go to New Zealand, Iceland. And the first thing we’re going to do is go to the East Coast Trail in St. John’s and hike it.

Marilyn Denis and Jim Helman

Marilyn Denis and Jim Helman

Local star Marilyn Denis, host of The Marilyn Denis Show and 104.5 FM morning show co-host, first met Jim Helman in the Grade 8 homeroom at Ingomar Junior High School. Their first date was at their high school junior prom. She eloped in the summer of 2018 with her high school prom date. Here, they talk about navigating the pandemic together.

What is your favourite activity to do at home together?

We love to hang out in our basement and watch college and NFL football and catch up on our favourite Crave and HBO Canada series. GO STEELERS — well, maybe next year.

What has been hardest on your relationship during the pandemic?

Not being able to travel. We can’t wait to get on a plane and go somewhere, anywhere!

And what have you learned about your relationship?

Jim: How much I love and appreciate the joy and passion Marilyn brings to our relationship. She is a voice of reason moderating my occasional naive optimism.

Marilyn: I agree with Jim. I am the voice of reason!

What has been your favourite pandemic date night idea?

Ordering burritos and watching a movie together. We like to keep it simple.

How have you kept the romance alive during this time?

None of your business. 😉

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