Sage Advice: Taking COVID-19 Too Seriously?

By Amy Dickinson | April 8th, 2020

One spouse heeds CDC warnings, the other thinks it's "overboard"


COVID-19: Man using hand sanitizer because he's so worried about it Image

Dear Amy: I live in a small town in Tennessee. I love my wonderful husband, but lately he is being too dramatic about COVID-19. He reminds me five times a day to wash my hands. He is also putting disinfectant wipes in my car.

Amy, I know to wash my hands, and I am not that bothered by him putting wipes in my car.

What really bothers me is that he is telling me to sleep in a different room than him! We have been happily married for 16 years, and we have always slept in the same bed – even when one of us was sick.

He is telling me to wear rubber gloves when I cook meals for us. He’s telling me not to leave the house.

In my opinion, everybody is making too big a deal about COVID-19.

Is my husband overreacting?

– Frustrated in Tennessee

Dear Frustrated: You seem to be under-reacting. This could be why your husband is so anxious about your – and his – hygiene and health. Your own attitude and behavior could be influencing an over-correction on his part.

This is from the (informative) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website (CDC.gov): “The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).”

As of this writing, the virus has not swept through your region. Perhaps you will get lucky, and it will somehow diminish before it gets to you.

Where I live, people are not leaving their houses. The entire region is locked down. The mere act of getting into a car and going somewhere “nonessential” seems like a far-off prospect.

You have the individual right to be lax, or foolish. You could get lucky and not get this virus. Or you could contract the virus and not have symptoms, so you would never know it.

You don’t have the right to potentially expose other people with impunity.

Do I think you should necessarily wear rubber gloves while you prepare dinner? No.

But if your husband was confident that you washed your hands and had washed surfaces you’d touched, he might not freak out quite so much. (He can also make dinner, by the way…).

Bottom line: if you took this more seriously, your husband might feel more comfortable sleeping with you. It’s time for you to dial in to the reality of what is happening. Don’t just react with annoyance to your husband. Talk to him about his anxieties and see if you can approach this menace as a loving team.


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In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2020 by Amy Dickinson

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