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What to do when Pandemic Fatigue Threatens to Destroy your Relationships

I’m just going to put it out there. I’ve been struggling. My ideas about how to handle this pandemic are very different from my husband’s. They are different from my mom’s, and

we both differ from my dad, and then there are my in-laws... In fact, of all my friends and family, I can think of only one person who I have discussed this with and agree entirely.

If you’re anything like me, you are struggling with some intense emotions around these differences of opinions. You are fighting fiercely for the health and safety of your family – and whether your concern is greater with physical or mental health, and whatever you believe about the effectiveness of masks and vaccines and social distancing, it is coming from a place of love.

Yes. LOVE.

We all hate this pandemic. We hate lock down. We hate virtual learning. We hate, hate, hate the massive toll it’s taken on those who have lost loved ones and those who are suffering long-term effects from the virus.

We love our family and friends and miss spending time with them. We love knowing our children are getting a good education in a safe and healthy environment. (Even if you are an introvert, I know you miss us a little. Right?)

If you are in conflict right now with your family or friends over how we’re all handling things differently, I’d like to offer some advice that’s worked for me recently. This isn’t original content. I learned it from my therapist, who learned it from a friend, and thank God for whoever taught it to her friend! BECAUSE IT REALLY HELPED ME!

1. Recognize that what you are angry about is this stupid pandemic. IT is the problem. Your people aren’t the problem. The government isn’t the problem. Covid-19 is the problem.

2. Consider the perspective of those loved ones who feel differently than you. What could be motivating their difference of opinion? Below is a list of examples that are far from comprehensive, but taken from my experience with all the perspectives I’ve observed.

Loved One #1 – got a bad case of Covid early on and hasn’t fully recovered. Is suffering financially and physically. TERRIFIED of any other loved ones suffering in the same way and possibly not ever recovering. Motivation? LOVE.

Loved One #2 – has experienced multiple failures on the part of western medicine and no longer trusts most of them. TERRIFIED of the physical and psychological damage wearing masks and getting vaccinated might do to her loved ones. Motivation? LOVE.

Loved One #3 – has considerable risk factors that could cause complications if he contracts Covid. TERRIFIED of leaving those who depend on him alone or burdened. Motivation? LOVE.

Loved One #4 – has very few physical risk factors for himself and his family. Has been exposed to the virus several times and no one has become sick. TERRIFIED of the long-term psychological effects he sees signs of in his wife and children. Motivation? LOVE.

3. After you’ve considered their perspective and their motivation, find a way to lovingly share your perspective. Don’t suffer in silence. Isolation and fear do not bring about good results. These are hard conversations, but those we love are worth trying to reach. Pray for wisdom. Then enter the conversation by acknowledging how they feel and letting your love shine through. They will be more likely to hear your concerns then. They love you too and don’t want you to suffer.

If you’re suffering and they don’t know, how can they be expected to respond? You may have to specifically ask for what you need, or ask them to explain what you might be missing. Keeping the perspective that the virus is the problem, not the person, ask them to work together with you to find a way to deal with everyone’s needs.

If there is no solution that meets everyone’s needs, at least you will know that you tried and hopefully you will all have more compassion for one another.

4. If you are struggling so much that these conversations seem impossible, please reach out to your pastor, doctor, or a mental health professional. There’s no shame in asking for help. Please do not lose the most important relationships in your life due to frustration, misunderstanding, and hurt. We’re all handling the pandemic differently. Who are we without our most important relationships? What quality of life do we have if we can’t work these problems out?

We are all pioneers right now, forging a new trail, unsure of what dangers lie ahead. If I could go back a year and talk to myself, I would tell myself that my instincts are good and I can trust them.

We can’t go back, of course. But we can look back and see that we were all clueless and doing the best we could in a very difficult situation. We can acknowledge that this has been excruciating and exhausting on many levels. We can choose to protect the love and the relationships we all value so deeply, even when we disagree so strongly.

Focus on the love.

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