His comfort, or my ethics?

A chilly and solitary fork in the road. Photo by Jeff Moser via https://flic.kr/p/5LL2uQ; some rights reserved.

My husband and I had a minor flare-up last night. An old friend called in distress and needed a safe place to spend the night. I of course said to come on over.

Then I texted my husband. He was driving and didn’t see the text until he got home. He was NOT happy. I got dire looks, glares, the works. (He’s more about implying his mood than actually talking about it.) I told him quietly that it would be short term, just an emergency situation, and I would be actively looking for a place for my friend.

When we had a few moments alone, I asked him if he wanted to talk about it. He told me — firmly — no … no, he did not.

His attitude is brimming with resentment that he “has no say” in this. He threw up his hands angrily last night and told me bitterly that there’s really nothing to say. “It is what it is, right?!”

Of course that’s not true. It upsets me tremendously to have a disagreement with him. But the question of whether to shelter my friend really has only a binary answer in the short term: Yes or no. We can’t split the difference on this decision and leave her halfway over our threshold.

He would never agree if I said this out loud, but he expects me to roll over and bury my values for the sake of his comfort, “like a good wife.” And I would like to placate him.

If I’d had time for it, I would take him to dinner and talk it over in advance and gently push to get him on my side on this decision, so that he had some sense of ownership to it. But there wasn’t time for that. She was around the corner with her suitcase in her car and needed a place to sleep. We have a spare bed.

And if I’m being honest, sometimes it’s just tiresome to beg his permission to do the right thing. What about MY autonomy?

It feels like an ethical decision. I’d rather inconvenience and irritate him than fail to help someone I care about and who I can easily help. I’m not sending her back home to a verbally abusive drunk.

Why would he be immature and selfish enough to NOT weigh his irritation against her need? I get his point, that I made a decision that affects both of us without involving him. But I reminded him that if the situation were reversed I would never expect him to turn one of his friends or family members away.

My husband is back to being his normal self this morning, as sweet and loving as he ever is. But this is still simmering beneath the surface. He doesn’t resolve grievances; he just stuffs them down as long as he can.

I was trying to put my feelings and thoughts into words last night, making a few notes so I would have my thoughts in order when he finally agrees to talk with me about this. (I will have to bring it up; he will avoid the conversation and just stew on this, if he follows the usual path.) This is the best I could come up with, although I don’t think he would have heard me as I intend it: “I value my sense of right and wrong over soothing you. I’m not trying to take away your autonomy and personal power; I’m just earnestly trying to do what’s right.”

For him, what he hears me saying is, “It’s my way or the highway.”

And that’s not what it’s like at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.