05 Mar Explore Lockdown Diaries – Ben and Zoe
For the second blog in our Lockdown Diaries series, we spoke with Ben and Zoe, an Explore couple from Berkshire, about what it’s like to be a young family and run a small business during the covid-19 pandemic.
When Covid brought traditional wedding days to a halt, it wasn’t just the bride and groom who were disappointed. Venues, caterers, dressmakers and photography businesses like one run by husband-and-wife team, Ben and Zoe were hit hard.
With all their work cancelled, Ben and Zoe’s household income completely stopped as they fell through the gap in government support schemes. “It was an exhausting and worrying time”, says Ben, who eventually secured work on a building site and is now moving between several temporary jobs.
The stress of trying to find work was mixed with the fact that Zoe was at home looking after their two-year-old. “Zoe has had it harder as she’s home all the time with a toddler and, with the bad weather, it is incredibly difficult to find ways to entertain them. With no baby groups, play dates or seeing friends, suddenly you are faced with a long day together. Their lovely, sociable pre-covid pre-schooler routine stopped suddenly with the first lockdown.”
“I’ve adapted now”, says Zoe. “I’m feeling more at peace, getting into a groove with lockdown life. I’ve learned to accept that I can’t control what’s going on. I can’t control my initial feelings to situations but I can control how I respond to how things play out. I’ve learned to let stuff go.”
Work and child-care issues have meant that this has been the most challenging time in their 10-year marriage. “It’s intense just being us two,” says Ben. “It’s not super healthy for any relationship to spend all your time together. Without outside stimulus such as news from meeting with friends, we’ve struggled to find things to talk about.”
“We also started to be competitive about who had the toughest day,” says Zoe. But they now recognise lockdown is not easy for either of them. “I’m being more intentional with Ben. Taking more care to show him love and talk stuff through in the moment rather than leaving it to fester”.
Ben and Zoe met as teenagers through their church youth group. Their continued faith has helped them. They have reached a place of mutual respect and admiration for what each has achieved during the pandemic.
Ben says that he has learned to be more grateful. “We have a warm house, hot water, food. Happiness doesn’t come from finances; it comes from somewhere inside you”. He had a moment of realisation when he was “drinking a glass of prosecco while moaning about life and recognising we have much to be thankful for.”
“We have worked out we are stronger if we talk to each other and try to listen without judgment,” he says. “Now, we don’t come to conversations with agendas and ready to place blame.”
Despite all the challenges that Covid has inflicted on them, Zoe remains upbeat. Her advice is the same as the mantra she follows: “Don’t let the last year dampen your dreams. Yes, there is uncertainty. Don’t let that stop you pursuing your interests, your desires. You will find a way. The journey might look a little different than it might have done a year ago”.
Ben is also looking to the future: “A lot of entrepreneurial spirit will come out of this”.
Ben and Zoe’s tough Covid journey has been like many others. Yet, they have found a way, with love, faith, understanding and communication. Mutual respect helps them think about the true problems of the day. An eye on the possibilities for the future keeps them moving forward together positively.
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