Why Doesn’t My Husband Respect My Opinion About Moving?


My husband and I have lived in the same house for 20 years. It’s modest, which allowed me to stay home with our children when they were young. My husband worked hard to pay off the mortgage, and I’m grateful to him. But this was never meant to be our forever home. It’s near a busy street with lots of noise and traffic. I’ve wanted to move to a quieter location for several years, but my husband emphatically refuses. We are both working full time now, and we are bringing in more money. I believe this should be a joint decision, but he doesn’t seem to value my opinion. Am I being unreasonable?

WIFE

Of course not! Any decision that affects both of you — or your family — should be made together. Occasionally, though, our partners need help reckoning with questions that unnerve them or make them shut down. I can imagine your husband may be hesitant about signing up for another long-term mortgage. He may be weary of that particular pressure or less rosy about your economic prospects than you are.

Still, his feelings don’t entitle him to brush you off. This would be a harder question if he were a bad communicator generally. But I assume — from the absence of your saying as much — that this housing issue is a discrete problem. So, start by asking him to elaborate on his feelings. Why is he so determined not to move? Is it a financial issue? Does he simply dislike change?

Now, it may take a few tries to get him to open up — or you may need the help of a couples therapist. But you are entitled to a substantive conversation. Also, you haven’t noted your relative earning power. You may assuage some of your husband’s concern by committing to a larger share of financial responsibility for the upgrade, if that’s possible. He may want to explore interests other than making money at this point in his life.

My next-door neighbor’s daughter has been clearing out her elderly mother’s house. She is a private person, so I don’t know if the mother died or moved away. Every week, she fills the trash bins with perfectly good things that could be donated or given away: kitchen knives and ceramic beer steins. Every week, it’s something else. The environmental impact bothers me. Can I pull things out of the trash to give away?

NEIGHBOR

Do you know what bothers me more than the environmental impact of throwing away some beer steins? Your seeming indifference to the possible death of your next-door neighbor. Do you really imagine that private people don’t grieve or need compassion? Let’s reframe your concern.

Feel free to dumpster-dive. But better still, the next time the daughter shows up, ask about your neighbor: “Is your mother OK?” If the news is bad, tell her you’re sorry to hear it. You can even offer to help clear the house by donating serviceable goods to a local charity. Chores like these can be challenging for a person whose parent has just died or taken a turn for the worse.

A friend of mine and a friend of hers, whom I’d never met, came to my city for a music festival. As thanks for letting him stay at my house, my friend’s friend bought me a ticket to the festival. As it turned out, another friend had a spare pass and offered to sell the gift ticket. But my houseguest assumed that he should get the proceeds of the sale. Was he right?

HOST

I think your houseguest had a kind impulse but got twisted up when things got complicated. (Don’t be too hard on him.) When he learned that you didn’t have a ticket to the festival, he bought you one. Sweet! But later, when he discovered you had a ticket and planned to sell the one he gave you, he seems to have decided (incorrectly) that you should return his gift.

You were free to dispose of the ticket as you liked. Normally, though, when we regift (or sell) a host gift, we don’t do it right under the giver’s nose. So, be patient here: Thank him for his gift and tell him you will credit the proceeds against his bill for lodging. That should bring him back to reality.

My godmother is sensitive to fragrance. At the ballet, she was seated next to a man wearing aftershave. Often, she asks for a seat change at the box office. But this time, she asked me to switch seats with her and then asked the man if he would switch seats with his wife. She said: “You’re wearing a beautiful aftershave, but scent bothers me. Would you mind switching seats with your wife to put some distance between us?” The couple seemed confused and uncomfortable. Was this request possibly OK?

AGHAST

Actually, I think your godmother gave a master class in how to handle situations like these. She complimented the man and asked him gently for a favor. Why would he refuse? And if he did, she could still go to the box office. Brava!


For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on X.





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