Avoiding intimacy due to coronavirus fears
Dear Annie: My wife and I are in our early 70s. She has had some health problems in the past, so she has been extremely cautious in light of COVID-19. I am very concerned about the virus, too, and want to be careful, but my wife’s level of carefulness has been impacting our intimacy. Since the start of the pandemic, she has cut off all physical contact with me — not just sex but also kissing and even hugging.
I do go out often to run errands — grocery shopping, picking up fast-food, going to the bank. I always wear proper masks, which my wife makes for me. I wash my hands frequently. But due to her past health problems, she would prefer to avoid any sort of physical togetherness, to be safe.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this situation, as I am getting a little frustrated! — Waiting in Roanoke
Dear Waiting: Physical touch is important, not just to our mental health but also our physical health. One study from the University of North Carolina found that women who receive hugs from their partner have lower blood pressure and therefore a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study authors noted that hugs appeared to stimulate “the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keeps you healthy and disease free.”
That’s not to say that single folks should recklessly date around in pursuit of a physical partner right now. But in the case of you and your wife, who live together and are both being careful, the benefits of physical intimacy would seem to outweigh the risks.
Talk to your wife about what steps you could take that might make her more comfortable. For example, what if you had groceries and food delivered, rather than going into stores or restaurants, and did all your banking online?
If she’s not open to physical touch no matter what precautions you take, it might speak to a deeper anxiety brought on by the pandemic. Respect her boundaries. Offer empathy, emotional support and loving patience. This, too, shall pass.
Dear Annie: Thank you, Annie, for your response to “Omnivore.” I was thrilled. As a vegan of 25+ years, I know first-hand the health benefits of eating clean, nutritious, plant-based foods — not just for me but for the planet and, of course, for the animals. Two other resources are Dr. John McDougall (drmcdougall.com/) and Will Tuttle’s “World Peace Diet.”
Many of the people who have become severely ill or died from COVID-19 have had comorbidities — namely, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
I hope more and more people who have a wider audience than I do with my local paper are willing to inform their readers of the need for healthy eating. Thank you for using your platform. May we find peace in our food. — Ginnie R. Maurer
Dear Ginnie: As Hippocrates is believed to have said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be they food.” So much of our healthfulness and our illness begins on our plates.
That isn’t to say that a healthy diet can entirely eliminate the need for medications, but it can improve one’s quality of life. I encourage readers to look into the resources that you recommended. Thanks for writing.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now. Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette – is available as a paperback and e-book. Go to http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.