You may have seen the November 19 “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC where the host had an emotional presentation on her partner’s COVID illness. Since then, especially with the Thanksgiving Holiday, there have been many accounts of how people handle when a partner, spouse or a family member gets infected. The toll it takes when you can’t see or be with those you love when they are in distress is huge, let alone knowing they may be dying with no one to hold their hand.

It is an unimaginable time when a partner has a serious or terminal illness, and we cannot be with them. Love is not for good times only. Have you, the reader, had to deal with this? I have known people who did everything they could humanly do so they had the peace from knowing this. But then, we have also heard about those who leave a relationship or a marriage when there is terminal illness. It is hard to fathom how any person lives with that knowledge of abandonment when the going gets tough. But judging aside, we all have to face and live with ourselves in the long run.

How do you manage to maintain a relationship when you have a partner who does not believe in the seriousness of the virus, or accepts conspiracy theories, or is a supporter of the other party they see as the enemy? If there is a strong bond, presumably you can negotiate around disagreements and just as you may do in other contexts, get through this one too. But in the present, there are just too many anecdotes and accounts of friendships, relationships and families breaking up over such differences. When did we get to seeing two separate and opposing views as enemy fire?

It is to be yet seen whether we will all, and I repeat all, make an attempt to reconcile, to build and strengthen our bonds and accept differences. It will indeed take all of us to show tolerance and perseverance in trusting and caring for one another as allies. The alternative is a divided and weaker, maybe eventually nonexistent, partnership in any sense of the word.

“No person is your friend who demands your silence,or denies your right to grow.”

~~ Alice Walker

Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577