During the pandemic, Ms. Reynolds, who lives in Seattle, paid for a lawyer to help relatives of a deceased friend from Minneapolis who were trying to navigate the legal process after her death. “Going through probate alone is like walking through a country where they speak a language that you have never even heard before,” she said.
Having the money to pay to help friends is not a requirement, though. In the years after her husband’s death, Ms. Reynolds found herself easily remembering the birthdays and death anniversaries that people close to her were marking — or was just more inclined to text when she was thinking of them.
“One version of this is ‘I have more, so I will spend more to care for the people I love,’” said Mr. Woodland, the social worker who runs the therapist network. “I also think it’s almost easier to spend money than to spend time, to say that ‘I prioritize you and want to know you in a more intimate way.’”
Among couples with children, time has often been its own fraught asset these 15 months. Even if you won back your commuting time, you may have been stuffed in a home with two adults working and children who needed all manner of supervision. It has been a form of quality time, perhaps, but maybe not precisely what you needed to renew or reinforce your romantic bonds.
To people seeking to shore those up, Eve Rodsky offers a counterintuitive possibility: Be as thoughtful about spending time apart as you are about time together. Ms. Rodsky, the author of “Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live),” learned this from surveying 1,000 members of the community that she has built around her work.
Many people have changed during the pandemic. Maybe your partner has in ways you haven’t even recognized. So offering time — and a budget — toward whomever that person wants to become is its own act of service.
“The permission to be unavailable to each other is the investment that they have in each other,” Ms. Rodsky said in a recent interview. Now, she and her husband each have a weekend day to themselves; she has Saturday this week.