In A Pandemic, My Husband Is Not Himself

If they are paying attention, Your loved ones are probably a little off too, in these crazy times.

Get outdoors if you safely can, Christyl RIvers

With the worldwide COVID-19 crisis we are all in together, my husband seems to have lost his precious mind.

I do not mean that he is hysterical, or even afraid. He remains remarkably calm, but I notice little things every day. These things, combined with my own anxiety — which I prefer to think of as an excess of caution — are beginning to affect my own behavior.

Waking up to a new world every single day is exhausting. How couples cope, and how each of us cope with an onslaught of challenges, should be considered, and refreshed, daily.

Your take-away may on how to tolerate upheavals, may be different from mine, but be patient, and you will find solutions.

When we wake up each morning to more scary statistics, and warnings about social distancing, all of us are bound to be feeling, and acting, differently.

My spouse is calling his sister more than once a day. He is compulsively making lists of food and supplies, even though we stock our pantry well. (We read The Coming Plague, etc. and have known about on-coming climate crisis events many years ago.) He is ordering stuff from Amazon for projects like back up solar, data storage, and electronics of every kind. Because our savings are greatly depleted, he is checking the stock market — which is usually bad news — constantly. He is compulsively going through our medical supplies, too. He is scolding our housemate for innocent mistakes. He is scowling nearly all the time.

He is even more absent minded that usual.

In our household, every morning now, I find that he has left the coffee pot on long after the coffee is gone. He is leaving things scattered everywhere. He is stuffing the fridge, and eating more than he needs to. He is checks the news about every five minutes.

In short, he is not the partner I am accustomed to having. He, and I, socially isolated as we are, are getting on one another’s nerves. I think, if you too, are isolated with your own crew, there are bound to be annoyances.

Turning lemons into lemonade is hard when we are all squeezed.

Calling his sister makes me jealous because all of my siblings are long deceased, except for my Seattle brother who doesn’t even have a cell phone or computer. I have almost no one to talk to outside of our home, and my husband has never been very talkative to begin with. It’s very hard to crack open his silence to learn what is going on in there.

If you are human, you, and your loved ones, are no doubt anxious. It is truly difficult, but necessary to have more patience, and a high level of tolerance for unusual behavior.

If you are lucky enough to live where there is green space, or walkways that have no crowds, get outside and exercise.

I keep reading about the importance of “staying indoors.” But this is misleading. You should be outdoors as much as you can with one crucial caveat: you should not be around lots of people. Exercise is essential. Fresh air and sunlight are really good for you all of the time, but in times of anxiety, they are even more important. Kids, especially, have pent up energy. Trying to keep them indoors and entertained, is one of the crazy making things that don’t help the situation. And, don’t forget, all adults have an inner kid.

Nature’s gifts remind us to be grateful, to see beauty, and to feel resilient.

It is difficult to get people to open up when they are anxious. We are all taught to put on “a brave face”. Psychologists know, however, that it is better than okay to express fears, doubts, and even sorrow. It shows another kind of bravery that displays vulnerable humans must trust one another.

We are all in a situation where we need to create reassurance and trust.

You don’t have to pry and make them talk about anything that makes them uncomfortable, but it is a good idea to constantly remind partners and family that we are here to talk about anything they need to express.

Staying current with new conditions and instructions is a wise thing to do. This does not mean, however, that we should obsessively be checking into rumors, doom and gloom predictions, political partisanship, and most especially, scapegoating of others.

It’s difficult, sometimes, to hear bad news. This is one of the things you should talk about together. Make solid plans. Adjust for changes. Be cautious and careful without being hysterical. Along these lines, for example, running out of toilet paper will not kill you, whereas standing in a crowded buy line at the store to buy it, possibly could. Maybe that’s why nature invented leaves — and our human capacity for having ideas and insights.

In the middle ages when plague swept the globe, the death head, or images of skulls were everywhere. The image of death reminds us that life is short, precious, and inevitably ends. Life itself is a miracle, and is only known of on one precious planet that we all share and need to protect. This means we need each other, and our ability to love, more than ever.

My husband is not insane.

Okay, maybe all of us are a tiny bit insane right now. The important thing to remember is that this is a normal human response to crisis. He is above all else, a practical person. He is merely distracted right now, and can’t remember to turn off the coffee, or put away tools.

Even more importantly, he is still holding me every morning. We say “I love you,” each and every night. Even though I sometimes have to interrupt his scowling focus to his electronics to offer a hug, he usually accepts it.

Sometimes, he even hugs me, unexpectedly.

Love, among social species, matters all the time, but a little extra love is very vital right now.

Ecopsychologist, Writer, Farmer, Defender of reality, and Cat Castle Custodian.

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