Even with Independence of Southern British Cameroons from UK (Observance), October 1, passed and The Prophet’s Birthday (Public Holiday) celebration coming on October 29, we’re still in the deep dive of the pandemic. Our lives still need to continue, including our family and romantic lives. With all of the ordinances ongoing around the world to restrict this or halt that, or wear this mask or wash your hands with that disinfectant, as part and parcel of living in the coronavirus pandemic, our relationships can be similarly restricted or halted, simply as one component of daily living impacted by the pandemic. So, how is the coronavirus impacting families and relationships?
In spite of the necessities of physically distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands, one of the unfortunate impacts has been on families, on couples. One of the most observable impacts on families has been the slow-down in the economy and the possibilities for unemployment affecting wives and husbands in Cameroon. With unemployment can come marital disharmony, including increased stress for the partner who lost the job, the potential ensuing arguments over finances, and so on, this is stressful; it’s a strain of functional family living with the potential for the stress to be passed onto the children too.
Other stresses include the children because of changes in school conditions and work conditions. Many parents may have to work from home, i.e., remotely. Many children may require more distance schooling to supplement safety concerns with the ongoing pandemic. Between these tensions of increased time at home, and more work in childcare and schooling on the part of the parents, there is a strain on the marriages for Cameroonian families. This is a significant issue in regards to the creation of stable family lives. Let alone the parental side of things, the concern over the mental wellbeing and health of the children with so many changes can put another negative factor on relationships.
Time to go out to the cinema, on a dinner date, out for a walk into a city centre, and son, has been further limited with the coronavirus pandemic. With the changes to increased home life time, and with a reduction in the possibility to go out and enjoy some time out with your wife or husband, Cameroonian relationships are being put under undue strain, which can even put some on the brink — as some reports have noted an increase in the number of divorces due to a feeling of being locked-in together with one’s partner with few moments to go out as a couple away from children, in spite of the general joy young ones can be in a families life.
All this raises some questions as to what one can do to keep in touch with others and find some sense of individuality in a claustrophobic inducing environment. With the advancement of modern communications technologies, in spite of the strains mentioned, there are plenty of things that can be done. One of these is the use of Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, Facebook Messenger (audiovisual), and so on, to reach out to friends and family. Why not reconnect with your mother, father, brother or sister, aunts and uncles, even old friends from school?
These technologies give us great adaptability in the COVID-19 era for work. Why not use them to reach out to connect with others within the personal social circle for you? As well, there are plenty of ways in which modern entertainment with television, movies, and games, can provide some structured fun and play, and enjoyment, for children and parents alike, as a family; coronavirus doesn’t necessarily have to be an inexorable dampener on family time together. The biggest issue is the unavoidable nature of the pandemic’s impact of the lives of Cameroonians, even for faith life and religious services. These have been impacted. Many church services have become “live,” as in online and then projected into the internet for the congregation to ‘attend’ and watch remotely. One can pursue a spiritual life even at a distance, hearing their church service, taking part in edificative lessons of holy texts read by a pastor or a priest, and having the family together while remotely taking part in the service.
Other things that can be done to feel a sense of individuality and agency within the marriage is to take the appropriate precautions — wearing a mask, washing hands, and physically distancing — to take part in some of the activities still available in public. Why not? You respect the health of fellow citizens while taking part in some activities of personal interest and enjoyment, whether some find dining, a movie, some dance classes, or whatever interests you. If you feel some time to get closer as a couple, why not bring them together as a package — dinner, movie, and dancing with the love of your life?