DEAR READERS: Because of syndication scheduling, I write and submit my columns two weeks in advance of publication. Due to this time lag, the Q&A's will not reflect the latest information about the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
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 underreacting. 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 overcorrection 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.
DEAR AMY: Many of your readers write in with questions concerning their spouse or siblings without ever revealing anyone's gender — including their own. Why do you suppose that is? As a gay man, I waited 23 years to legally marry my husband of two years. Now married, I can't imagine referring to him as anything other than my husband. Spouse, partner, significant other, etc., just seem less honest and less concise and like I'm somehow diminishing his importance. Can you explain this?
DEAR PROUD: I don't assign gender to people who write to me, unless they make it clear within their question. Gender isn't always germane to the issues between couples. Surely, even in your own relationship you can see that some issues that crop up between couples are somewhat universal, regardless of gender or sexuality. I suspect, also, that some people deliberately mask their gender in order to mask their own identity, and create a further shield, protecting their own anonymity and that of other family members. And, of course, I respect that, too.
DEAR AMY: My son is an RN in the emergency room at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. The hospital emergency room is now seeing multiple cases of probable COVID-19 every day. They are reusing masks, as someone stole a number of masks from the nearby hospital. Can you urge people who have supplies to donate them to first responders, including fire departments and hospitals? Also please tell hoarders to give their supplies to the first responders, that they should be sheltering in place, not hoarding. I worry for my son and his family (as he has two very young children).
DEAR MOTHER: This is absolutely heartbreaking.