Skip to content

Stress in Relationships Stalks Us All During Quarantine

April 11, 2020

Stepping up, stepping down. His bandage stayed on the first two weeks post-surgery.

Another Way for week of April 12, 2020

Stress in Relationships Stalks Us All

Time to talk about the other malady we are feeling across the world: the stress, ugliness, arguments, and discord a pandemic of these dimensions can produce. This ailment, stress, will affect 100 percent of us unless we keep it in check. It can be as damaging to relationships as a deadly virus.

Because of the virus, my husband and I had to do physical therapy at home for the knee replacement surgery he had on March 10. He was able to go to one week of appointments with a trained physical therapist. Then, with little warning, all outpatient therapy at the nearby retirement complex was scrubbed. We felt gut-punched.

Our homemade way of measuring the progress getting bend into his knee. The dog, as usual, supervises.

When one spouse is in acute pain from the bends and stretches being flexed on his new knee, and the other spouse is occupied two hours a day supplying him with the various tools needed (stretch bands, squeeze balls, icing of knee, rulers and yardsticks to measure progress, notebooks to document the quarter inches gained), well, you can guess that there were some hurtful words and tearful times for both parties.

I have probably written about stress at least a dozen times over the years of publishing a weekly newspaper column. Let me be clear. I’d much rather have the stress ailment than Covid-19, but I lament the difficulties most of us are having in our families even across the miles—by phone or Facebook or texts. It isn’t easy to hibernate in our homes and apartments and (likely most difficult of all), in mobile homes. Cabin fever: yes.

Homemade cards from grandchildren help to brighten the day.

Thankfully, we were able to find another therapy place that is open and very helpful, but he still has to do much therapy at home, of course. At least we have more guidance. I’d much rather be the helper for his therapy than the patient. I’m also glad I don’t have to add the two hours of therapy onto an eight-hour work day, plus cooking, housework, and walking the dog. I’ll admit it doesn’t take a quarantine to bring out arguments, but after 44 years of marriage, we know we will survive the current fray and kiss and make up.

The Harvard Business Review recently posted an article, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief,” an interview with grief expert David Kessler. He says the stress we’re under is a form of grief. Because none of us know who will get sick, who will become a caretaker of the sick, who will get well, how things will pan out—the anxiety we feel is a form of anticipatory grief. The advice they give, briefly, is to try to get back to the present—and not spend too much time worrying over what we cannot change or control. (Of course, there is much we can do to help avoid illness: washing hands, not touching face, physically keeping a distance from people, staying home, and more. You know the list.)

But as you are able, trying focusing on the present. Kessler suggests: “Name the things that are in the room you are in. There may be a computer, a chair, a picture of the dog, an old rug, a coffee mug. Breathe. Realize that in the present moment … you’re okay. You have food. You are not sick. Use your senses and think about what you are feeling. ‘The desk is hard. The blanket is soft. I can feel the breath coming into my nose.’ This really will work to dampen some of that [anticipatory] pain.”

They also encourage us to let go of what we can’t control, and “stock up.” Not on toilet paper or eggs or whatever is in short supply in your neighborhood, but give each other grace, good will, and share love. Let’s pray for and appreciate all of those working in health care, who are suffering some of the worst brunt of all this frustration, uncertainty, and even rage. Let’s share as we are able with those who are out of work, spending long days alone with toddlers or preschoolers who have little grasp of why their worlds have been upended with schedules changed and no seeing their friends.

It’s okay to feel grief, anger, and frustration, but don’t let those loom over your spirit and take over your household. I do hear many of us focusing instead on the beautiful colors of spring flowers, the return of green to the earth, newborn chicks or lambs, a celebration of Easter as we perhaps have never known it: no (or few) services in actual houses of worship, connecting with family and friends via Zoom, Facebook, Google Hangouts, or good old fashioned Ma Bell (phones). Maybe hiding Easter eggs in your own yard—no mass scramble in parks, at churches, or White House lawn.

I do pray for all of us a sane and healthy Easter, with God’s abundant love for all.




How are you staying sane, if you are?


What daily routines are a new enjoyment?


What have you learned about yourself?


Finally, if you need help, do reach out. Do not harm yourself or your family.

Call for help. 


For a free booklet, “Secrets of Long Marriage: The Six C’s of Marriage” plus a bookmark with “101 Ways to Manage Stress,” send your request to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.


Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  





  1. Staying sane? I just finished a Pilates class with friends via Zoom, a boon in this time of isolation. My writing group meets this way too, but less often.

    I will definitely link this post to one I’m planning in a few weeks. Early in the emerging pandemic, Cliff and I had an argument, uncharacteristic for us. It was a flash in the pan compared to the rigors of extended home therapy that you and Stuart are experiencing, but it was still disconcerting, just as the Harvard article mentioned.

    The arrival of spring has helped. I plan to continue my walks in nature and maybe get some marigolds to deter the pests. Our faith it being tested, and I have realized that underneath the frustration and fear, I feel deep-seated trust in God – hope, as you do. Never has writing in my gratitude book been more intentional.

    Timely post, Melodie!

    • I’m late responding here, I thought I had but only written in my brain, I guess, which is a bit overtaxed right now! I hope you and Cliff had a good Easter. We enjoyed a virtual chat with all 3 daughters, their significant others and little ones, and I carried my laptop around to the Easter eggs hidden all over our house and let the grands call out the colors when they spotted the various eggs. 🙂

      Your Pilates class on Zoom sounds like a great ticket to connection, exercise, mindful moving and health. Well done. And kudos for keeping up a gratitude book.

      I have found Stuart’s exercise time to have some restful and prayerful moments as we tick through (and keep track of on a homemade abacus) his repetitions, I can mentally go through my prayer list and focus for a brief time on the circumstances of family and friends. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs as well.

  2. Happy Easter to you and Stuart.

  3. Oh my, I”m feeling for you. My better half had a knee replacement last August. Fortunately long before COVID19 and during the summer when my part-time job slowed down to about 20 hours a week. It was still rough. Oh my goodness, if we’d had to do the therapy at home…we probably still wouldn’t be speaking LOL

    I love the part where you mentioned the anticipatory grief. I haven’t heard of that phrase and concept before, but it fits exactly to what we’re going through now. Not only the current active stresses over our health and that of our loved ones, stress of will I still have a job & how will I pay the bills, but the anticipated stress/grief too.

    Great article!

    • Thank you, Trisha. I’m glad to hear from someone else who had a rough time with the long slow healing and therapy of knee replacement. We anticipated needing to do long therapy, but we’re only 4.5 weeks into it, and the journey seems long! Today, though, is a good day. 🙂

      I’m glad the part about anticipatory grief connected with you, it made sense when I read it in the linked article from Harvard Review. Overall, we personally feel very fortunate to be both retired and unless they trim our social security checks, we should be ok financially. I do feel for all those working through this mess!

  4. Much sympathy to your husband! Therapy is no fun. But every bit of bending and straightening he can do now is so worthwhile because there comes a time when the progress slows way down.

    • We have heard this, Nancy, and thanks for chiming in. Bruce, above, is the one who sent us a name of a local business still doing therapy, and so far, we really appreciate the new place. Stuart is anxious about “when the progress slows way down” and thus is pushing himself a lot right now, and sometimes overdoes it, I think. That knee also had a torn ACL 30 years ago and was operated on, so there is already some scar tissue in there. Thank you much for the encouragement.

  5. Beverly Silver permalink

    Thank you, Melodie so timely. I forward your logs to two friends, one you know and one you don’t. They appreciate it! Hope the therapy goes well!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Jennifer Murch

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. -Twyla Tharp

Trisha Faye

Cherishing the Past while Celebrating the Present


To walk or tramp about; to gad, wander. < Old French - trapasser (to trespass).

Tuesdays with Laurie

"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan

Hickory Hill Farm

Blueberries, grapes, vegetables, and more

The Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ

The Website & Blog of David D. Flowers

Cynthia's Communique

Navigating careers, the media and life

the practical mystic

spiritual adventures in the real world

Osheta Moore

Shalom in the City

Shirley Hershey Showalter

writing and reading memoir

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

mama congo

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.


Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

Roadkill Crossing

Writing generated from the rural life

%d bloggers like this: