My wife has decided that she does not want us to go to the beach for our annual big family beach gathering this July because of coronavirus. Even though all of our extended family are just going to pile into a huge beach house rental, she’s afraid that we or our kids will somehow “get sick and die.” I think she’s being completely crazy about the beach and everything else with the virus. She wipes down our delivered groceries before putting them away, she makes us all take showers after we return home from being outside in the yard, and she hasn’t left the house one time since the late March. I, and our kids, will be very upset if we don’t go. Help!
~ Upset in Loudoun
Your wife isn’t “crazy,” rather she (like many people) is anxious about COIVD-19. Anxiety, to anthropomorphize it, likes to be in control, and her need to be in control over what she can be in control of regarding COVID-19 is stronger than yours. In my opinion, this isn’t really a matter of right or wrong inasmuch as her decision to not go to the beach is right for her and your wanting to go is right for you. As the old saying goes, “One’s perception is one’s reality,” and to that point you’re both right.
What I think you could do is ask her to give it some time before she makes her final decision since July is still some time away. We don’t know where things will be with COVID-19 that far out, and she may see things differently if the virus continues to diminish. You could also work with her to put a game plan in place that in turn might serve to give her greater sense of control over her feelings. For example, you could agree to not go out or to restaurants while at the beach house. You could also agree to have contact only with extended family members at the beach house who assumingly quarantined like your family. In the end, if she remains adamant about not going, I think you need to respect her wishes. I suppose you could go alone or attempt to go with your children without her, but I think that would likely only increase your wife’s anxiety and make things worse. The beach isn’t going anywhere, and your extended family members will likely understand if you can’t make it this year. Lastly, you can also work with your wife to plan a separate vacation for just your family at a later time this Summer or closer to Fall, which might be a more reasonable compromise for her.
Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice. He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America and several other outlets. He can be reached at 703 723-2999, and is located at 44095 Pipeline Plaza, Suite 240, Ashburn, VA 20147.