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ASK ELLIE: During the coronavirus pandemic, people have to find ways to adapt to changes

Playing Scrabble is one way to pass the time during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Playing Scrabble is one way to pass the time during the COVID-19 lockdown. - RF Stock

Dear readers: Since so many of you are living and working differently from how you did before the coronavirus pandemic, how have those changes affected your relationships?

People are working at home, with children there, too, learning and doing homework remotely. Some are “stuck” inside because they’re over 70 and considered vulnerable to the virus. Others are at home working online and trying to stay connected and present?

The potential relationship pitfalls look clear: boredom; anxiety; negativity; outright fear.

My advice? Find solutions.

Some of what I’ve heard from those who’ve written me and from my personal contacts:

The stress on parents as schools closed was huge, but those who reacted practically helped ease the situation for themselves and the children. Most important, is explaining age-appropriately to your children what’s going on. Make them part of the household team handling the situation. Dividing the dining table for the housebound students to work on is one approach. Buying inexpensive desks and chairs so they can work more separately, is another.

Next most important is getting along with your closest people. There’s already enough stress without sinking into disagreements and lack of understanding. Appreciate that people feel stress differently, even if you’re a couple who’ve lived together for years. No matter how well you know each other, you may not recognize when your partner is just plain scared or you may be opposites when it comes to information overload.

In a time of crisis, we’re individuals yet still need each other. Make room for the others in your life to express different reactions from yours. We still need human contact, whether online, or by phone. We need humour in hard times, so take a moment to read the funny text and send it on. We need caring, so call your neighbour to check in. Above all, we need to feel loved by those who’ve been close in our lives and to return that feeling to them.

Feedback regarding the woman separated from her emotionally abusive husband, with small children (March 14):

Reader: The secret to a happy marriage: When he picks you. When he listens to your ideas and respects your opinions. When you hear him brag to his friends about your accomplishments. When he says through voice and actions, he loves you!

This woman is caring about how she feels more than how the situation affects her children. Her feelings are only fleeting moments for what she believes makes a happy family. Yet she doesn’t want to keep moving in separate directions.

That is exactly what she’s doing by not providing emotional stability. She hints that their dad will come back where they’ll all be a family again. This is absolutely unfair to her children and she is causing their confusion.

Her loneliness is driving her emotion covering up past reality.

His need for abuse therapy is only surpassed by her need of therapy to determine why she thinks being with a proven abuser is better for her children and for her loneliness.

1. He showed no respect or kindness in times of strife;

2. She says, “we still love each other”. But it seems she loves him, not him loving her;

3. She’s insisting but he’s not a willing participant in shared birthdays, etc. when she states, “which I pushed for and he begrudgingly adopted”.

Feedback regarding the woman who was turned off by her date using medical terms when speaking about intimacy and sex (March 18):

Reader: He was autistic. It’s not OK to dump people because of quirks. She described his autism pretty clearly. Autistic people aren't comfortable with touch, but they'll get used to the

person and rock their world.

Elie: Thanks for your support of autistic people which is much needed. That’s why I published your response though I disagree with your assumption. There may be similarities of which you’re aware with the reactions of some autistic people during moments involving touch, but I, personally, cannot make that assumption when there’s no mention of it from the writer.

She wrote that they dated awhile, they’re both late-40s, he’s divorced, had previous relationships. She’s unlikely not to have known or suspected there was a specific cause for his off-putting terminology. Thanks for caring.

Ellie’s tip of the day: In these tough times, lean into your important relationships, with a partner, close family and friends, together, online and whatever ways possible.

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


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