Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My wife and I have made it through COVID quarantine by bingeing new shows and watching sports, cooking awesome meals together, enjoying great wine or cocktails, or mimosas and beer on game days. We used to go out a lot but now we joke maybe we never will again, because it’s like we have our own movie theater, restaurant and bar at home!
On New Year’s Day, she announced big changes. Wants to cut back on drinking — a glass of wine, if that, on weeknights, and one “cheat day” a week when she will consider cocktails. She’s always taken the lead on ordering groceries and meal planning, and she said we’re going to pretty much eliminate ordering from restaurants and we’re going on a low-dairy, low-sodium diet because we both have high blood pressure — true.
It sounds dumb, but this past year has sucked, and having fun with my wife has helped me make it through. Now I feel like she’s sucking all the fun out of the room. I realize this sounds selfish, but we’re a team, and we had found a way to not only make the pandemic tolerable, but to actually have fun, and I feel like she should have talked to me about all this. I told her this and she got really upset and said I should be supportive and consider changes too. Frankly, I’m barely keeping my head above water in these crazy times. Now is not the time for big changes.
Let me get this straight: Facing the facts that you two are most likely drinking too much, probably eating poorly, and definitely facing bad health outcomes, your wife is trying to help — and you’re mad, bro? I do get where you’re coming from: It feels scary to rattle the coping mechanisms that have gotten any of us this far. It’s just too bad your coping mechanisms weren’t, I don’t know, reading a lot of books, or diving into a jogging routine.
Instead you’re turning toward boozy beverages and binge TV and big dinners — and that might have been OK if the pandemic lasted a few weeks. But it’s January, dude. We’re coming up on a year! Time to take a long look and follow your wife’s responsible lead. The start of a new year creates an ideal launch pad for better habits. And your wife is approaching this somewhat judiciously. She isn’t saying no booze, for example; she’s saying less booze. You can live with that.
Her stance on your new dietary direction may feel severe, but try negotiating a cheat day once a week when you enjoy a delivery meal or make something together at home, possibly even with added salt or cheese. Know that these ideas she’s suggesting are coming from a place of caring, and you can contribute instead of resist. You’ve gotten each other through this far, so approach 2021 the same way — like a team. She’ll probably be relieved to dive into this with you through a heartfelt, vulnerable conversation.
Well, you made it through 2020 without a relationship meltdown, and that’s pretty darn impressive. You also made it through 2020 with a routine of bubbly booze and indulgent chews, which I’m certainly not judging but I will confirm that it is not exactly a survival mode made for the long haul.
While a change seems to be in order, and New Year’s is always a fitting time for a lifestyle upheaval, it was definitely unfair to the “team” that your wife made these sweeping decisions without huddling up with her teammate. You clearly don’t want to do a 180 on your COVID-19 coping lifestyle. And even if you did, I’m guessing this kind of routine shock therapy doesn’t work for you, just like it wouldn’t work for most people. A major overhaul like this takes planning and ramp-up time for regular folks. For someone like your wife, maybe it is easy. Either way, you need to explain that to you’re not wired like that.
Just because she’s traded hot wings for cold turkey doesn’t mean you have to eat it. But what’s really important here for you? Having your alcohol and bad carbs or maintaining a tight, positive connection with her? You don’t have to go all in immediately or at all. I’d hope she’d understand if you met her a quarter-way or halfway for now and adjusted at your pace. And remember the big picture: You’re still dining with your wife, still bingeing shows together, and you’re even still tending the home bar — it’s just a juice bar now.