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What it is like to have a remote marriage because of the corona virus



In our series How it is we talk to people of different origins about how their lives have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For this part, we spoke to Isabel Thomson-Officer, an Australian who is separated from her two-year-old husband due to travel interruptions due to the new corona virus. She went to Australia in early March, and what should be a two-week trip is undetermined. Her husband Jessie is riding the pandemic at her home in New York City – one of the places worst affected by COVID-19. Over 10,000 miles apart, they don't know when they'll see each other again. Previously, they had spent no more than three weeks separately.

Here, Thomson officer explains how COVID-1

9 affected their relationship and how she and her husband managed to be on the other side of the world with a 14 hour time difference and what makes them hopeful if they do yearns to be home with the love of her life. (Your answers have been edited and compressed for clarity.)

SELF: Tell me how you ended up in Melbourne, Australia while your husband Jessie is in Brooklyn.

ITO: I am an Australian and have been living in New York for six years. I came to Melbourne in early March to celebrate a friend's wedding and to visit my family. It was supposed to be a two week trip. When I landed in Australia on March 7, I admit I was shocked by some Australians' bizarre obsession with hoarding toilet paper. You couldn't buy it anywhere!

Ten days after my trip, the world changed very quickly. In mid-March, Australia issued a warning asking Australians not to travel abroad. At the same time, the pandemic began to appear in the United States, particularly in New York.

When did you notice? Are you taking us back to the moment you realized you couldn't leave Australia and reunite with your husband in New York City?

One week after my trip home, I attended my friend's wedding. It was beautiful and great to see a lot of old friends that I hadn't seen in years. However, I was a little nervous about how things were going. It was beginning to feel strange to be with so many people at the same time.

It struck on March 18. I was planning a flight back to NYC on March 22nd and was beginning to think I might not be able to take it. After speaking to my husband and family, I decided to return to NYC on the evening of March 18, so I panicked and bought a flight. But then I found out that the Australian government was asking Australians who were abroad to return overseas before this became more difficult due to border closures.

After many tears and phone calls to Jessie, we agreed what was best. It would be for me to stay in Melbourne and see the pandemic out here. Things didn't look good in New York, everything was so uncertain and it's not a good time to travel. We both felt that if I did, it could endanger others.

I canceled my flight for this evening. I was disappointed and completely disbelieving how much had changed in just a few weeks. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately the smartest we could make.


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