Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My husband and I have been following the COVID-19 mandates to a T. This was a huge lifestyle shift for us, and especially hard for my husband. We don’t have kids and have a pretty active social life. We go out a lot, we love live music and date nights at restaurants, and we go to the gym together at least a few days a week.
Honestly, the past couple months have been tolerable but challenging. We have enjoyed time at home but, like most people, we have missed seeing our friends and doing our regular things. I have enjoyed reading and cooking and other activities that have made quarantine peaceful and productive at times. My husband, not so much, and he’s been pretty bored and antsy.
Now that society is “reopening,” we are having a hard time agreeing what to do next. I think we should still “hunker down” for a while and see what happens. I keep reading there could be a second wave of the virus and I don’t want to contribute to that. My husband’s take on that is, if there is a second wave, this is our brief window to go out and have fun. He points out that the bars have rules to keep people safe. My viewpoint is these rules can’t guarantee safety, they just make an unsafe situation safer.
Anyway, we’re going around and around on this. Basically, I see no reason to shift our lives right now and think we should keep doing all we can to distance ourselves and stay home, and he is climbing the walls with boredom and wants us to start going out and doing things again. Any advice?
Throughout the COVID pandemic, mixed messages and changing information have presented major challenges for us all as we try to figure out how to safely and responsibly navigate through this. Right now, public officials appear to be walking a tightrope between giving some space for economic activity while urging us to continue to maintain space among ourselves. It’s a freaky world we’re living in to be sure.
It’s tough that the two of you aren’t aligned on how to proceed. If you were single, you could just do your own thing and hole up until Christmas if it suited you. Meanwhile you husband would be lined up at his favorite bar for a celebratory pint. That you’re both in a holding pattern speaks to your underlying — if unspoken — desire to reach a middle ground, even if you’re both frustrated in the meantime.
Look for a compromise. Your prevailing interest is a continued desire to be safe. Is your husband’s motivation that he misses his friends and is sick of being in the house? If so, find a creative and mutually satisfying way to safely honor that, like having friends over for a — distanced — backyard potluck; or meet at a park for an open-air happy hour. Getting out and being social doesn’t mean you have to be trapped indoors feeling too-close-for-comfort with strangers.
While these outdoor gatherings may satisfy your husband’s social itch for a while, he may eventually head to a bar or show without you — and that’s OK too. Your compromise may also be a mutual understanding that to get through this, you may have to move at different paces.
I second the backyard barbe-quarantine reentry concept brought forth by Wanda. Long-distance lawn chairs. BYOB policy. Plenty of utensils so no one has to reuse or share. Wipes, sanitizer and gloves aplenty. It’s a perfect middle-ground compromise: a controlled environment that should satisfy your hopes of staying clear of the public and public places and your husband’s need to reconnect with friends. Could be what you both need, really. Just make sure your happy hubby doesn’t start hugging everyone after his third seltzer.
I applaud you guys for having done an amazing job of surviving and thriving during this confusing, anxious and potentially dangerous time. You came up with a plan and stuck to it as great partners. And even now when you’re in a space of differing opinions and heightened tensions, you’re still communicating. Doesn’t mean it’s easy communication, but it does mean that you still respect and love one another enough to talk it through before taking individual action. Go team!
Now, of course, you can’t linger in the stay-at-home holding pattern or disagreement merry-go-round forever. Or even for another week. So stick to what’s made you successful so far: don’t put individual mandates in front of the flexibility of keeping one another’s feelings and concerns in mind as you work to find some socializing compromises that make you both feel happy, healthy and emotionally secure.
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