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.
Craig Wong and Ivy Lam
Craig Wong and Ivy Lam grew up together in Scarborough, fell in love and got married back in 2011. Now, the couple helm Patois, one of the city’s popular Dundas West bistros. It hasn’t been easy for restaurants during the past year, but has that added more stress than the couple can handle? We asked Craig to talk about how he’s kept romance alive during the pandemic.
What has been most challenging for you guys as a couple during this past year?
The hardest thing must be just the whole uncertainty of COVID and the situation that we’re in, I guess, because we work together. It’s also like a double whammy. We see each other at work.
And we’re constantly thinking about work even at home. And restaurants are definitely on the higher end of being impacted by COVID. So constantly working while trying to spend time at home together has probably been the biggest impact on our relationship.
How have you managed to keep the romance alive?
I think it has to be through staying present with each other. Communicating in long sentences, rather than just like blurting out short phrases to each other. And we actually started meditating as well. And we connect first thing in the morning before our sons wake up and before we get started with the day.
What’s your advice to others in terms of navigating the ups and downs of relationships during this time?
I guess I have to say keep in mind that your spouse is your teammate. You know, there’s a lot of bad situations in the world, many of which aren’t in our control. So I remind myself a lot that Ivy is not against me. And if we do end up arguing, then it’s because of external factors. You know, it’s never because it’s her versus me.
Roz Weston and Katherine Holland
Roz Weston, co-host of The Roz & Mocha Show on KiSS 92.5 and senior reporter on Entertainment Tonight Canada, and photographer Katherine Holland met in a crowded nightclub in Toronto at an event hosted by Paris Hilton 15 years ago, and they’ve been together ever since. If they can make it through a night of Paris Hilton, they can make it through anything and keep the romance alive. Or can they? We check in with the couple to see how they are navigating the pandemic.
What have you learned about your relationship and romance during the pandemic?
Katherine: That we’ve got each other’s backs no matter what. I was pretty down all of the time during the first lockdown. I wasn’t working. I was crying all of the time while trying to do online schooling and felt like I was living Groundhog Day. Roz was working like crazy — even more than usual. But somehow we still found time for each other. We always loved hanging out together. Just having him nearby is so levelling for me. We listened to each other talk about the parts of our lives that were different and hard and did what we could to make things easier for the other.
What did you learn about your partner?
Roz: Katherine is very loud when she types, like hammer fingers. It’s incredible. I’ve never heard such a noise coming from someone’s keyboard before.
Katherine: His drive is unlike anything I’ve seen before. He can really take the worst situation and make gold from it. It’s so inspiring and so motivating and more than a little intimidating. He’s absolutely one in a million.
What is your favourite guilty pleasure TV show you’ve discovered together and why?
Roz: We watched it all. Everything. But just when we thought we had got to the end, we discovered Ted Lasso on AppleTV+ and it was the perfect show for quarantine. It was just so nice to watch a show based around optimism and positivity. Ted Lasso is by far the best show I’ve seen all year.
Gill Deacon and Grant Gordon
CBC Radio One’s Gill Deacon first met her spouse, Liberal politician Grant Gordon, when they were kids at her family cottage on the Ottawa River. They met again as adults at a cousin’s wedding and hit it off. Years later, they returned to that Ottawa River cottage to get married. Now, we talk to Deacon about relationship stress and romance during a pandemic. Here’s what she said.
What has been hardest on your relationship during the pandemic?
Just the general stress of these uncertain times.
And what have you learned about your relationship?
My husband and I have gone through some pretty tough stuff together. I’ve had breast cancer twice, and as much as I’d never wish that on anyone, I will say that it prepared us for living with scary and uncomfortable realities. We had to learn how to stay in the moment, to stay focused on the good stuff and to be gentle and kind with one another. All of which has been key to getting through this pandemic.
What is your favourite activity to do at home together?
We’ve been playing a lot of the board game Splendor. I almost never win. Lost Cities is my A-game.
What is your advice to others in terms of navigating the ups and downs of relationships during the pandemic?
I don’t know if I have any advice except to say hold hands ’cause it’s a wild and scary ride.
What is the first thing you plan on doing as a couple once the pandemic is behind us?
A weekend of theatre in New York City sure would be nice!