Dear Amy: My wife is afraid to touch me since the pandemic started.

I even took COVID tests to reassure her. I have tested negative both times and yet my wife maintains no hugging and (of course) no sex. Is this normal?

Amy says: Are you sure this is about COVID? Because just as the pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down, it has also offered a rationale for simply refusing to do things you don't want to do.

If you and your wife have (basically) formed a "germ pod" together, then her behavior is not normal. It isn't rational, anyway.

The pandemic has thrown most people off course. For some, the pandemic has triggered extreme anxieties and obsessions. Fortunately, therapeutic help is readily available by phone or video chat. Check psychologytoday.com/us/therapists for a list of therapists.

I think it is also obvious — and necessary — for you to do some self-reflection; might there be a reason other than the pandemic for your wife to keep her distance?

Nieces keeping their distance

Dear Amy: I love my two nieces. I lavished them with attention during their childhood. My sister (their mother), passed away and I kept in touch by attending graduations and visiting them.

My nieces are now adults (late 20s/early 30s) and I continued to stay in touch, but they have made no effort to reciprocate. They never return phone calls, visit, send holiday greetings, etc.

When I advised one niece that I was hurt she didn't return my call (after she said "she'd call me back later"), she explained that younger people just say that; it doesn't really mean they'll call later.

Additionally, she suggested that I should contact her in advance so she could "block out some time to talk."

I have determined that I will no longer put myself out for them. My family members tell me that as the older member of the family, I should look past their behavior and that young people just don't want to be with older family members. Your advice?

Amy says: Yes, it is time for you to back away a little bit.

It is pretty typical for adults at this stage of life to be wrapped up in building their own lives, seeing the needs of others as distractions rather than invitations to connect.

Many in your nieces' age group seem to treat talking on the phone as an unwelcome intrusion. Millennials have told me that they sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction when they get a call, thinking it is actually rude of people to call them when they really should send a text.

This does not excuse your nieces' rudeness toward you.

One way to handle this would be to occasionally text them to say, "Hey, I was thinking about you today; I'm just checking in to see how you're doing."

I don't believe that young people as a group "don't want to be with" older people, but no one likes to feel pressured. If you give them more space, they may instinctively draw a little closer to you. They may not, but you won't be so resentful.