DEAR AMY: My husband and I are both in our 70s. We live a fairly tame retired life. So far, our state has not had many COVID-19 cases. We are in generally good health, although my husband has a chronic autoimmune disease. When we have to go into the community to get meds or groceries, I wear gloves and a mask; however, he pooh-poohs my precautions. He will not even wash his hands immediately when we return home. This places me (who is adhering to recommendations) at risk. It places both of us at risk. I am tired of being chastised when I remind him about precautions. We have a generally solid relationship, but this is confounding me. I have to continue to share living space with him, but I am frustrated that he is taking my concerns lightly. Is there another way for me to approach him that might be more fruitful (and safe)?
Healthy for Now
DEAR HEALTHY FOR NOW: I'm glad that you and your husband are coexisting more or less peacefully. His behavior and unkind reaction to you puts your relationship — and your health — at risk. I don't know if you both have read accounts of the reality of suffering through a severe case of COVID-19, but — if you haven't, perhaps you should. This is NOT an ordinary flu. Severe cases are horrific. And because your husband has an underlying health problem, he is already at a higher risk for serious complications if he contracts the virus. Your precautions might protect you somewhat from infection — even if he contracts this virus, but one commonsense precaution you could take as a couple would be to eliminate — or at least severely limit your time out. If you have to pick up supplies, only one of you should go. Don't fuss at him. Tell him you love him, say that you don't want either of you to get sick, and ask him to be more careful ... "As a favor" to you. Maybe he will "stoop" to doing the right thing if can feel superior and thinks he is humoring you. I hope you will continue to be very careful, even inside your home. Make sure you each have your medical histories and medications written down — if one of you enters the hospital for any reason, the other will likely not be able to go in to assist in communicating with medical staff. Readers may want to weigh in with their own successful techniques for convincing others to adopt safer best practices.
DEAR AMY: When you reach a certain age, many of us struggle to find good homes for items we have collected over the years. I wanted to share my solution with your readers. I created a page for my family on Facebook, which they named "Do you want Grandma's stuff?" As I go through items, I take a picture of it, share the picture on that page, with a description of who or where it came from. Family members have a chance to look at the item, decide if they are interested, and let me know. If more than one person is interested, then they can decide who gets it. If no one wants it then I will donate it to a local museum, check out local antique stores, or donate the items. My husband's family is very well-known in our area; the historical society was happy to receive the items I donated, and made a special area to display them. As a side note, I was very surprised (and very pleased) at some of the items my children and grandchildren wanted. This has worked very well for me and the family. I hope this will be helpful to others.
Grandma in Oregon
DEAR GRANDMA: My mother-in-law put little Post-it notes on the undersides of items that family members had called "dibs" on. I like your technique, and I think this sounds like a fun and useful project.
DEAR AMY: Thank you so much for your beautiful response to "Heart Two Sizes Too Small." This was a woman who was raised in an abusive and neglectful environment who worried that she could not feel love toward others. I survived a similar childhood. And you are right — it was only when I had emotionally come to terms with it that I was able to finally love myself. Once I saw that I was deserving, I was able to open up to others.
DEAR GRATEFUL: Loving well means that you win.