Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My wife is making me crazy and I need advice.
We’ve been hunkered down at home for almost a month now. She’s working, I’m furloughed. This means she keeps pretty busy all day whereas I’m trying to knock out some home projects and help keep the house running.
This means I’m usually doing grocery pick up, checking our PO box, running by the liquor store, heading to Home Depot for this and that and doing other errands. I’m also pretty into fitness and I miss my gym, so I’ve been making up for it with daily runs.
My wife is constantly at me about my personal safety — if I’m wearing masks, gloves, how close was I to other people, how often I’m washing my hands. I have to say I am taking this very seriously and for the most part would be fine with staying home altogether but someone needs to do this stuff, and she doesn’t have time. I have been wearing masks, gloves, the whole bit, and being careful about taking them off and washing them or throwing them away. Her constant nagging makes me feel like she thinks I’m stupid or doesn’t trust me to be safe.
The last straw was that she wants me to stop my runs. She thinks being on the trail is a risk, because more people are out on the trails. I will go absolutely nuts if I have to be inside all the time. I need her to trust me and I absolutely need to keep up with my runs. What can I say to get her to calm down and ease up?
First, know that your wife’s concern comes from a place of love, and maybe even a little fear. Look, none of us have done this before, and we’re all getting inundated with information — from scary facts to crazy rumors. COVID-19 is dominating every aspect of our lives. It’s bound to make us all a little crazy, and it’s sure to amplify regular tensions in even the healthiest of relationships.
Second, cut yourself some slack. Your frustration is completely understandable. Without work, it’s admirable that you’re using the time to try to be productive and stay healthy and it’s understandably annoying that you aren’t feeling supported. Layer on to that the oppressive claustrophobic repercussions of the quarantine life, and your feelings are completely understandable.
I suggest you give up a little to get what you need most. It sounds like your runs keep you sane and mean a lot to you. Tell your wife you need to keep doing them, but you will make every effort to seek out quiet, uncrowded places, and you’ll wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth. Also offer to seek out ways to scale back other activities that find you in public places — like cutting the post office visits in half, or switching to grocery delivery.
Compromise and communication are the foundation of any relationship and in the time of COVID-19, we need to step up both to keep ourselves and our partners happy.
Don’t overreact to your wife’s overreaction, buddy. I’m sure she doesn’t think you’re stupid, or bounding down the trail high-fiving runners along the way, or throwing apples around with your fellow shoppers in the produce section. She’s worried about you during a stressful time. That means she probably still loves you. Take that as a positive.
Like you, I also crave outside exercise time every day to provide slivers of balance and sanity to all the hunkering, Netflixing, working from homing, and end of the world messaging. Like your wife, I’m also worried about all those clowns out there who aren’t using face coverings or 6 feet of distancing between one another and me. Some people huff and puff right down the middle of the trail like they own it, just like normal times. Come on people, we’re trying to survive a pandemic here!
Look, there are only so many Shaun T video workouts your abs can handle. Fresh air, exercise and a break from the home life is your magical elixir right now. You don’t have to lose that, but you should change up your routes and routine to minimize interactions, which will hopefully translate to minimizing your wife’s concerns. Is the scenery along the streets of your neighborhood more inspiring than along Anchorage’s world-class trail system? Definitely not. But is it easier to maneuver around, avoid unmasked walkers/runners, get back home quickly, and still get a solid run in? Definitely. Adjust, and decompress, accordingly.