A family visiting Paris (illustrative image). - Michel Euler / AP / SIPA

  • Since the start of the epidemic, barrier gestures have been presented as the most effective solution to fight against the coronavirus.
  • Masks highly recommended and kissing have become prohibited… It is not easy to integrate them into our daily lives.
  • "It's very heavy", "this perpetual war is tiring", "we are being sneered at" ... As a couple or as a family, our readers tell us about the family conflicts generated by these gestures.

“Barrier gestures” have landed in our lives at the same time as the coronavirus. Since March, we have had to learn to wear a mask, to respect distances, and to condemn kisses and handshakes. These new habits are for some more difficult to take, and to respect, for lack of desire or conviction. What to cause tensions with the close relations, and in particular in the couple, as our readers testified.

"I am at perpetual war with my spouse," says Frédérique. "He absolutely does not respect barrier gestures: he eats with his colleagues almost every day without distancing, he drives with his colleagues without a mask, without distancing and the air conditioning at full blast, he goes to the doctor and when he comes back, he do not wash their hands and touch everything, etc. It's tiring ! », She laments. Without thinking about it, some do not dare refuse a kiss, like Marie's husband. “We are coming out of confinement and we are out of quarantine because of a contact case, I am stunned that he does not say no to the kiss. I explain: "I do not kiss you but the heart is there" ", she fumed.

"It turned our life as a couple upside down"

What cause a stir in their relationship. “Suddenly, we who were perfectly in line for several years, I realize that our fundamental values ​​can diverge. Starting with respect: he puts himself in danger and necessarily the rest of our family too. "Marie-Antoinette says she has the impression of living in a threesome, with her husband ... and the coronavirus:" If I point out to him, if I tell him that he too must keep the distance, he gets carried away and me says he's tired of always paying attention. It turned our life as a couple upside down… We're still with covid and it's heavy, very heavy! "

In heterosexual couples, “if we schematize, men have more impulses, they are more likely to drink alcohol and take drugs. Women will be statistically more anxious and depressed, they will tend to protect themselves more. These differences in behavior, applied to the coronavirus, can cause tension, ”analyzes Viviane Kovess-Masfety, psychiatrist epidemiologist and researcher at the University of Paris.

“The more uncertainty there is, the larger the area of ​​conflict. Imagine a huge forest fire: you are not going to discuss so much in your relationship to know whether you are going into the flames or not. With the Covid, the messages are contradictory, there is room for interpretation, ”she adds. “There is no general consensus,” says Sylvain Max, psychologist and teacher-researcher at the Burgundy School of Business. “What poses a problem is that everyone will take the information that suits them, according to their experience and their training. "

"This coronavirus, I do not believe it"

For Charlotte, who is 8 months pregnant, the game promises to be difficult. With her partner, they take a lot of precautions during this "very scary" period. "We are not making any missteps," she said. "That said, our family does not understand our fear and tells us that we must not stop living." She expects difficult times after the birth of their baby. “We are going to be very strict with the family. I know in advance that all this is going to be very frustrating, especially for future grandparents. They will be upset and the arguments have not finished erupting, ”she worries.

In the family, these conflicts tend to disturb the joy of reunion, which is frequent during the holidays. What to spice up the lunches: if before we argued by speaking politics, the height of the controversy in 2020, it is rather the dose of hydroalcoholic gel… and the management of the dishes on the large family table. Arnald, who lives in Paris, visited his family this summer, in "an area little affected" by the epidemic. "When it came time for the meal, everyone served themselves in the same dishes, without any sanitary measures, or gel, or hand washing with soap," he says.

During this time, with his mask and his hydroalcoholic gel, he passes for a man "a little fragile, a little paranoid and a little sheep", "but we love you all the same", he is told. "I was very happy to be with my family, until a cousin said that" anyway, this coronavirus, I do not believe it "," he continues. “There was a distance on my side, because of this worrying carelessness,” he concludes.

The solution ? The discussion !

The most cautious then pass for poopers. Patricia felt "a bit lonely to refuse the kisses" during a family reunion. "They seem to think that barrier gestures are not necessary since we are" between friends and family "", she is offended. "So they express orally their astonishment, sometimes mockery", she laments. Explanation of the shrink: “Seeing the extended family, we mix people who do not come from the same places: when you come from the Grand-Est region, it is not at all the same as in Brittany, where there is no 'there was almost nothing,' says Viviane Kovess-Masfety. “Added to this are the differences in culture: in the cousinades, everyone meets, comes with their experience. "

To avoid these conflicts, there are not 50 solutions. "You have to discuss it, even in a couple, try to know the state of mind of each and try to accept it", advocates Sylvain Max. “For example, we can prevent early enough that we are organizing a meal while respecting barrier gestures. Those who are afraid of the Covid will be reassured. But we must also take into account those who like contacts, who do not want to wear a mask, find solutions to satisfy everyone, ”said the researcher. To avoid more lasting conflicts in the family?

"The coronavirus exposes family life", concludes Viviane Kovess-Masfety, psychiatrist epidemiologist and researcher at the University of Paris. “He will push to the limit and put stress on the usual family relationships. When a family is in mutual respect, we find solutions. In intolerant and conflictual families, people were already arguing long before the coronavirus ”.


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