Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Quarantine Brings About Marriage Troubles

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of the horrible side effects of being in quarantine for nearly a year now is that my husband and I are not getting along. We have always argued about this or that, but things have gotten a lot worse. I feel like I never know what the morning will bring. In the past few weeks, I have noticed that I could say one wrong thing and he will just start yelling at me, seemingly for no reason. I am walking on eggshells, unsure of what to say -- or not say -- to him because I don’t feel like arguing. I am not a passive person; I just want peace. I know my husband will not go to therapy, especially now when he is not leaving the house. What can I do to make things more positive at home? -- Tired of Arguing

DEAR TIRED OF ARGUING: Sadly, quarantine has dramatically and negatively impacted many households. It is hard to be confined to a small space for what seems like an interminable period of time. Added to the quarantine are all of the other stressors that people are dealing with. You didn’t say what your husband’s work situation is, but some people are stressed out because they have lost jobs or their jobs have been diminished. Many are worried about finances and health.

Think about what may be bothering your husband. Through a compassionate perspective, consider what his issues are. Then tell him you want to have a discussion. Be positive, not combative. Tell him that you have noticed that your interactions have been very testy of late, and you are concerned. Ask him if anything specific is bothering him. Listen carefully. If he says he doesn’t know what you are talking about, tell him you would like to give a couple of examples. Share your examples, and tell your husband how his words and tone make you feel.

Tell him that you want to find a way that the two of you can be kinder to each other. Note that this period has been difficult for you, but that you want to find a way to communicate. Ask him if he is willing to try. Be mindful not to place blame. Instead, request that you work together to be more thoughtful.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I wake up almost every morning to the smell of weed. I knew my husband smoked -- he has since before we got married -- but it has gotten out of control since we have been stuck at home. I hate waking up to that smell. As it is, just walking down the street in my neighborhood, in a city where marijuana is still illegal, I see people smoking out in the open. It stinks, but that’s outside. I am so tired of smelling it in my house. I have asked my husband not to smoke all the time, but that isn’t working. He just rolls his eyes and gets mad. We live in an apartment, so he has nowhere to go outside to smoke. What should I do? -- No More Weed

DEAR NO MORE WEED: Try talking to your husband about when he smokes. If the morning is what irks you the most, ask him not to smoke first thing in the morning, as it negatively impacts the start to your day. Tell him that if he loves you, he should try to accommodate you -- at least some of the time. You may also want to invest in a device that draws smoke out of the air. Smoke removal devices exist at all price points and may provide relief.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)