Written by: Michele Weiner-Davis
Several weeks ago, I told my husband about my plan to shop for food and supplies in case the Coronavirus reached pandemic proportions.
He smirked and said something like, “You’re so predictable,” referring to my tendency to worry about dire outcomes. I’m just wired that way.
Not to be deterred, I took off to Costco and once there, filled my cart until I could feel the adrenaline stop pulsing through my body. Upon learning about my Costco mother lode, I became the brunt of my family’s jokes.
Fast forward to the last few days. No one is laughing anymore.
Especially not the couples in my practice.
I spent several hours on the phone today with a couple in crisis from California.
Married for 8 years, John, a physician, and Rita, a journalist, had not been able to stop arguing for three days. Their hostility was growing exponentially.
When asked what had been going on between them, it quickly became apparent that the issues identified were merely red herrings; something deeper had hijacked them emotionally.
And it was this.
John and Rita had completely different perspectives about the risk involved with the current COVID-19 situation. Because of his medical background, John felt that, while they should not panic, he and Rita should make immediate changes in their lifestyle to minimize risk to them and their two young daughters.
For John, this meant other than his work responsibilities, he and Rita should limit contact with the public- no socializing with friends and family, staying home as much as possible, stocking up on food and supplies from online sources, and following mainstream medical advice regarding regular handwashing and sanitizing surfaces at home.
Rita, on the other hand, while not oblivious to the health risks, believed that with diligence and sufficient caution, their chances of contracting the illness was slim. She didn’t agree with John’s plan to fully limit social contact, especially for their toddlers who had frequent playdates. Also, Rita was close to her parents and felt grandparent visits were a major bonus in their daughters’ lives.
During our two-hour call, Rita repeatedly asked, “When does the cure become worse that the illness?”