LOCKDOWN LOVE STORIES 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 love 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.
LISA BERRY AND DION JOHNSTONE Actors Lisa Berry and Dion Johnstone met on the first day of rehearsals for a Stratford Festival production of To Kill A Mockingbird, but the timing wasn’t right for the two of them. Fast-forward a year when Berry walked into that rehearsal hall determined to meet the man standing across the room only to find out it was Johnstone. Full circle. The two share a love of Shakespeare, acting and comic books. But what did they learn from each other during the pandemic? How have you kept the romance alive during this time? Lisa: Well, we have a six-month-old, so we’re in the “reinventing our romance” phase. Dion: Yes, our son pretty much dominates that part of our brains right now. However, we still recognize the things each of us continue to do to take care of ourselves, and a supportive comment here and there helps us feel recognized and loved. We’ve started having family group hugs, and there’s a kind of romance in discovering each other in our new roles of mom and dad.
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What is your advice to others in terms of navigating the ups and downs of relationships during the pandemic? Lisa: Take care of yourself and what you need first. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Dion: Also, really listen to your partner. Listen not only to what they’re expressing through words, but also what they’re expressing through feeling.
What is your favourite guilty pleasure TV show you've discovered together and why? Lisa: Lovecraft Country. This show spoke right to my spirit and let me see myself and the social justice situations clearer all while elevating my opinion of what is possible. Really empowering show! Dion: Yeah. Lovecraft Country really rocked our world. Shout out to Karen LeBlanc, (a brilliant Toronto-based actor) who plays a pivotal role in probably the most groundbreaking episode of the entire season. You have to see it to believe it!
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.
© Ian Brown
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.
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 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!