DEAR KRISTIN: My husband just purchased an expensive new car. He says it’s a “reward” to himself for all the hard work he’s put in over the course of his long career, which I certainly understand. What I don’t understand, though, is the fact that he’s starting to spend more time with it -- his car, that is -- than with me. When he’s not driving it, he’s shining it, waxing it, adjusting all its fancy bells and whistles. What feels like a “reward” to him is feeling more like a punishment to me. How can I look at this differently? -- NEGLECTED
DEAR NEGLECTED: I hate to sound cruel and insensitive -- especially when I’m always encouraging my readers to approach the challenges and adversity in their lives from a place a love and awareness rather than from a place of resentment or anger -- but I’m going to say this anyway: You gotta get over yourself.
Allow your hubby to enjoy his car. And when I think about it, I might even be misusing the word “allow,” because when it boils right down to it, good-and-grown adults don’t ever really “allow” other good-and-grown adults to do anything, right? People do what they want to do, whether we allow them to or not. Last time I checked, each one of us has complete control and dominion over our actions.
This doesn’t mean you can’t communicate your feelings to him -- you should, but do it without being whiny. You have a right to speak up, but you must also respect his right to pursue his interests. There is a balance. You must find that balance ... but he must find it, too. It works both ways.
Also consider the possibility that this is not just about him spending more time with his new car -- it’s about him spending less time with you.
Get yourself a new hobby. Pursue your own new stuff. Don’t stand in the garage door wringing your hands in worry -- walk through that garage door, sit your butt down behind the wheel of your car, and drive to that new yoga class you just registered for (or if yoga isn’t your thing, just fill in the blank with something that’s more suited to your interests.) Open the doors of your own life and see what else is out there.
This “husband-spends-too-much-time-with-the-car” conundrum has been creating fissures and frustrations in relationships since the first automobile rolled off the assembly line. But it’s not really about the car at all: It’s about the human decision that’s being made by your husband -- the conscious choice he is rendering -- to spend so much time with his car. Conscious choice is more the issue than the car itself.
In my opinion, the power to exercise conscious choice is perhaps the greatest blessing we have as human beings. But this also means we must be aware of the effects our choices have on others.
Awareness is everything. Make sure your husband is aware of the fact that his choices are causing a disturbance, then both of you figure out a way to address this imbalance respectfully and gracefully.
If he’s unwilling to address the issue or if the problem persists then, you have other choices to make; larger issues at stake. Don’t allow yourself to be overlooked and neglected. Whatever you do, quit with the hand-wringing. Handle your affairs without getting mopey or resentful.
And make the conscious choice to find yourself a new pastime that ignites happiness within you, too. It is your right and responsibility.