My COVID-Obsessed Husband Forces Us to Stay Home

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 40s. My husband is overly anxious about the novel coronavirus, and it troubles me immensely. Even though restrictions on activities have been lifted, it feels as though a state of emergency is still being imposed, but only on our household.

My husband still won’t let our children go to school and forces them to stay home. I was forced to take leave from my job. I told him I didn’t want to stop working because I was worried about our children’s school fees and I felt fulfilled at work. However, he wouldn’t listen to me.

He wears several layers of face masks and thoroughly washes his hands. He is way too high-strung, and wipes down our entire house.

He tells us we should just concentrate on overcoming the situation right now because the lives of all our family members are very important. But I feel that he’s going too far. Above all, I feel really sorry for our children, who are forced to follow their father’s whims, being unable to attend school and having to eat every meal all alone.

My patience is wearing very thin. What can I do to make my husband understand that what he is doing is too much?

U, Okayama Prefecture

Dear Ms. U:

It appears that there are many cases in which married couples are at odds with each other over differences in their values on health issues amid the pandemic. In most cases, they make small concessions to each other and cope with the situation by finding common ground.

Having read your letter, however, I have to say your husband’s fastidiousness is over-the-top.

Making you take leave from work and forbidding your children to go to school could be considered a form of domestic violence, rather than caring for the family’s health.

It is extremely difficult to change people’s values or the way they think. In particular, the fact that your family has been able to cope with the situation so far has probably made him believe that he is doing the right thing. It is better to think that you will not be able to convince him to come to his senses.

I recommend that you ask for support from outside your household as soon as possible. Why not consider using a consultation service for women at your local government office or asking your parents for help if they are still around.

If your husband will not be persuaded by people from outside the family, you should consider separating yourself and your children from your husband.

I hope that you will deal with the situation by prioritizing your children above anything else.

Masahiro Yamada, university professor

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 22, 2022)