Dear Amy: I’m 71 and live in Upstate New York, but during the winter months I stay at my girlfriend “Wendy’s” house in Florida. She is 65.
Wendy and I get along fine but have run into a snag regarding COVID-19 precautions.
Wendy’s son (age 35) lives about 15 miles away. She uses no COVID-19 precautions when she sees him, which is at least once a day.
When he comes to visit, I put on a face mask, and stay six feet away from him.
Wendy tells me I am being rude to him by doing this. She’s well aware of the criteria regarding COVID-19, but ignores it when it comes to her son.
I have given up trying to reason with her, as it only leads to an argument. (She says, “I’m an adult, and can make my own decisions. Don’t talk to me like I’m a child.”)
I’ve given up being intimate with Wendy, due to her unsafe behavior.
Her birthday is today, so her son came over (along with his girlfriend) to cook dinner for her.
As I write this, I’m in another room (with my mask on), preparing to eat my steak.
I feel trapped. Any advice for me? — Stuck in Florida
Dear Stuck: Scores of people have figured out how to communicate, maintain family ties, and celebrate birthdays and other special occasions without risking their health, or the health of others.
As I write this, the concept of “contract tracing” is being discussed, and you can well imagine that the presence of just one extra person visiting your household might potentially bring you into possible viral contact with dozens of other people. Obviously, if “Wendy” has close contact with her son, and also contact with you, you wearing a mask when around him might not protect you as much as you think (although you should continue to do so).
All the same, this is Wendy’s house. This could be one of those times when ownership conveys power.
You seem to be doing your best to stay safe within this household, and that is all you can do at this point. Once you pack your bags and are able to safely decamp to your northern home, you will be able to consider the residual damage to your relationship.
Perhaps, in your frustration, you have treated your partner like a child.
Unfortunately, now she seems to be acting like one.
Dear Amy: My wife is an alcoholic. Although she has been to a facility two times for in-patient rehab, she still drinks.
I’m dealing with this the best I can during the coronavirus pandemic, which has made all our lives more difficult — for various reasons.
My question to you is: Why were liquor stores allowed to remain open during this pandemic? Is this an “essential business”? So many businesses were forced to close, and this was one I thought we could do without. — Just Wondering
Dear Wondering: My assumption is that this decision has been made on a state-by-state basis — influenced, no doubt, by powerful lobbying efforts.
You might also envision one state keeping liquor stores closed, while a neighboring state keeps theirs open (and some states sell wine and liquor in grocery stores, further complicating the issue). People living within driving distance of a state border might choose to travel (potentially spreading the virus) in order to purchase alcohol.
But this isn’t really about “essential businesses.” This is about your wife’s drinking, and how painful and destructive her alcoholism is for you.
If you have not connected with a “friends and family” support group up to now, this is the ideal time to start. The rehab facility where she sought treatment will likely have suggestions for ways to connect with the loved ones of addicts who have been treated there.
Fortunately, Al-Anon is offering virtual meetings. Check Al-anon.org.
Dear Amy: I just read the letter from the “Anxious Parents,” whose mother-in-law refused to get a flu shot.
I totally agree with your response that it is very important for these young parents to set a firm boundary regarding interaction with this grandmother and their at-risk child.
I would also add that new parents should also require that people coming in contact with a new baby be vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough).
Thanks for using your column to share honest health information. — Oregon Grandma
Dear Grandma: It strains credulity that anyone would refuse a useful, proven, and safe vaccine. Surely right now, we are all hoping for one.