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ASK ELLIE: COVID-19 family crisis causes woman to break off engagement


Q – I’m 31 and not ill, but the COVID-19 virus has already affected my relationship.

The circumstances around it have revealed how differently my fiancè and I think about big issues.

We were on a two-week vacation in the sun when reports on the numbers of people with symptoms started rising.

He played golf and watched the stock market. I started packing our bags.

We argued over that difference for days; he wanted to stay in the warm weather, I wanted to go home where my family lives.

My parents are seniors - healthy, but vulnerable to the flu whenever it's going around. I needed to be home to shop for them if they became ill and quarantined.

My fiancè said I was overreacting and that they could order from Amazon and some supermarkets.

I remembered the books I’d read about survivors of dire events – some of those stories showed vastly different ends for those who hesitated to leave their belongings vs. those who fled to safety and started new lives, sometimes with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

I finally told him that we had to agree on when the facts dictated that it was time to leave or stay.

He refused to “ruin” his holiday and not get a refund from the resort for leaving early.

I closed my suitcase, gave him back the ring and left.

My close friend says I made a mistake because this is such an intensely anxious time of conflicting information and fear. But I still feel hurt that he couldn’t accept my need to leave.

Do you think I broke up with my fiancè for the wrong reasons?

Virus Affects Relationships

A – It’s hard enough to deal with the constantly changing news flashes and worries about vulnerable relatives without being on opposite sides with your partner when a major decision has to be made.

Countless people were caught these past weeks/months facing important decisions: whether to cancel long-planned trips (and, yes, lose deposits), attend weddings/special occasions or avoid the travel and crowds, etc.

You were one who discovered a truth you must’ve sensed before but ignored: You and your fiancè appear to have different values.

There’s nothing wrong with loving golf or wanting a potential refund. But he’ll surely be able to golf again.

What’s wrong is not appreciating a partner’s basic belief system during a historic pandemic: You cared about your family. For you, it meant time to leave. He’s young, healthy and will have many chances to golf again, when this time passes.

You didn’t mention love. It’s always a clue. If nothing changes (him “getting it” or you missing him, not the engagement), you know the answer.

Reader’s commentary - On accepting abuse:

I left an emotionally abusive home at 15, married at 16 and after six months realized he was a physical abuser. When eight months pregnant, his violence almost killed me. Our second child was the result of rape.

Paramount was the children’s mental health. I divorced with no child support. I went to night school, worked and kept good relations with their father for the kids’ sakes.

I had no family to ask for help. Divorce is lonely, but being abused should never be better. I joined book clubs, learned to ski, went to parents-with-children outings, took kids on picnics, etc. We had very little money.

I read business and professional journals so I could carry on conversations about world topics.

I never remarried until in my 50s. Children should always come first.

Q - A friend deeply disappointed me during the call for limited exposure to the virus, through social distancing.

She’d invited three couples (the acceptable number where we live) to dinner, to help dispel the general gloom.

She’s an informed person, so we thought it’d be OK to accept.

When my husband and I arrived, I was shocked to find an additional three couples and the table seating crowded. Also, there was a lot of drinks going around, so people began to get more familiar.

At least six crowded into her small kitchen while she cooked, and one man I didn’t know tried to hug me and every other woman present! I didn’t leave, but wish I had!

Should I comment to her?

Still Uncomfortable

A - She probably got carried away with hostess goodwill, but it wasn’t wise at a time of potential risk. However, you and your husband stayed there when you could’ve left.

Now, be more vigilant and protect yourselves.

Ellie’s tip of the day: A basic difference in values is a deal-breaker.

Read Ellie Monday to Saturday. Send relationship questions to Follow @ellieadvice.


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