What’s most important is to talk about it with an open mind and curiosity. This allows room for thoughts, feelings, concerns, emotional care, and practical options to be shared between you.
Some people are very afraid, while others are watching with concern and taking precautions.
The best sources of ongoing practical information and advice comes from the CDC, so keep up to date there.
If you two have very different views about the risks and how to handle them, start by remembering you are in this together and that you are each other’s top priority (with your kids the very closest second). You are in each other’s care.
Listen carefully to the concerns expressed by your significant other; speak them back and make sure you heard everything your beloved said. Give empathy (e.g., “That’s rough to feel anxious all day;” or “You sound confused;” or “You’re afraid”). When you do this, it doesn’t necessarily mean you see it the same way; just that you really see, hear, and understand your partner, which is what the human brain is wired for.
Make sure you each get the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings before you try to make a plan that is inclusive of both of your concerns.
I’m not here to tell you what to do; but to guide you in important conversations with each other. It’s likely you’ll have a multitude of conversations about Corona virus and your family over time as your thoughts and feelings may change, especially as the situation continues to develop. For example, our two college-age kids are studying remotely now. One has to travel back from the East Coast.
If one partner is more worried, then figure out what s/he needs and do your best to provide it (maybe it’s a lot more hand washing, maybe it’s staying in to eat, etc.) Don’t minimize his/her concerns.
Take the precautions the CDC is recommending.
This is a big one: stay home if you’re sick. There is an amazing work ethic in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, but this is not the time to push through it. Stay home! If you can, work remotely. It’s much harder if you have an hourly job and no PTO. If you’re sick, you need to stay home anyway. You can have video therapy, doctor appointments, and attend meetings virtually.
Are there triggers for either of you? For example, was someone in your partner’s life or your own ill when you were younger? How was it handled? How were unsettled times handled in your family growing up? What did you see as far as how your parents worked through tough issues? Recognize that the answers to these, and more questions, is going to impact what happens now. Often naming (not blaming) is very helpful, for example, “I wonder if this reminds you of when your Mom was sick? Have you been thinking about her? How might that affect how you’re feeling now?” Curiosity is the name of the game.