I’ve been married for 18 years and we have 3 beautiful kids.
I think we have a problem. My husband is helping a friend by letting him borrow his truck a for little more than 2 months now. Every Thursday my husband drives the 2 youngest ones to school in our two passenger van. I asked him to ask his friend to return our truck so he could drive the kids to school safely, but he said that he is helping the friend and can’t ask him that yet.
Help me understand if I’m being selfish when my concern is the safety of the kids? On top of that his friend has been using the truck for more than two months. I think this has been enough time to get on his way, since his is getting paid regularly. I assume he’s doing okay because I heard that the friend even loaned money to someone.
Do you think I’m being mean to my husband and his friend? I also laid out my views and concerns for my husband, on the first day he let the friend use the truck. I was even concerned that we may be holding his friend back from moving forward and getting the better things in life for himself.
Thank you so much for everything that you and Susan do. I watch your show every day on TCT and I’m now reading one of your books. I have a much better idea of things now because of you.
We’re delighted that you find our shows and books helpful. That encourages us to keep taping and writing.
You are actually asking three different questions:
- Is your husband driving your children in an objectively unsafe way?
- Is your husband giving his friend help in a way that keeps his friend from taking responsibility for his own life?
- What say do you have in how your husband helps his friend?
It is possible that your husband thinks that doubling up on seating is perfectly safe but you don’t. However, we have a suspicion that your concerns do not stem entirely from the safety issue or you wouldn’t have let your husband drive the children even once in an unsafe manner.
You might be right that it would be good for the friend to become more independent, however you can’t know that for sure. It is possible that your husband’s friend has shared confidences with him that you don’t know about or that other factors are in play.
The third question is really the pivotal one in terms of your marriage. We feel that your question is far more of a state-of-marriage question than it is a child-safety question or your concerns about the friend’s own situation.
When you are married there is no such thing as “your husband’s truck.” This might be different if you are very wealthy and the family has many vehicles and your husband used discretionary income that you both agreed was his alone to buy a truck, but that isn’t the situation for most typical families. If the truck is your family vehicle, the two of you should have agreed whether it should be loaned to a friend and for how long.
It seems to us that you may be feeling hurt because your husband is putting friendship ahead of family and that he acted on this family-concerning matter without your agreement. Maybe you are also feeling that your husband doesn’t appreciate how hard you work doing all the school driving except for this one trip that your work schedule doesn’t allow you to do.
Or, perhaps, you think that you are both being taken advantage of by this friend. Is it possible that your husband also thinks that it is time for the arrangement to end but doesn’t know how to do that? These are all legitimate questions and all should be discussed. But they must be discussed in the right way in the right place in the right time. Remember, the main concern here is not cars and trucks, or friends or even children, but the marriage.
Whatever the case, you now have a bit of a sore point in your marriage that needs to be healed. It is quite possible that from your husband’s perspective, this is just about the truck. It would be quite typical and entirely understandable that he has no clue how this has started to impact your feelings about him and your marriage. Try and be sensitive to this masculine world view.
We encourage you to find a quiet and stress-free time to talk to – and listen to – your husband. Before you can do this, you need to make sure that you can speak without sounding angry or hurt. Ask questions. Acknowledge your husband’s kindness while asking if there is an end date in sight. Find out why he thinks this in no big deal or is the right thing to do. Analyze together whether there really is a safety issue (how far is the drive; is there a lot of traffic…). Is there another solution? Could your husband and you switch vehicles on Thursday so you drive the van and he uses the car you usually drive? Be open to the idea that this loan may continue for a while longer while, at the same time, helping your husband see your point of view. Perhaps he, in turn, can try to remember that in future, these kinds of actions are joint husband/wife decisions.
We see this as another of those wonderful opportunities that arise in the life of a couple to grow the marriage. The process is first for each of you to see the entire matter from the other’s perspective. Make frequent use of the phrase “Just to be sure I understand, are you saying that….?”
The next step is that even if you still disagree, you each learn how to give the other the respect of acknowledging that their point of view can also be valid. The final and most important step is for both to realize that when two people are married, they can each retain different ideas and the couple can function quite well. However, once ideas have to become actions, the couple as one unified entity can only take one action.
For instance, one of you might think London is an ideal vacation destination while the other prefers Miami. This is no problem until you have to decide where to spend two weeks this summer. Clearly a compromise that places you mid-Atlantic is no solution. One way or the other, you have to decide whether to go to London or Miami in a way that does not leave anyone feeling beaten or resentful.
This can best be achieved by discussion particularly in an atmosphere of love and appreciation for one another.
In the case of some disagreements, it is enormously helpful to bring in an independent third party “arbitrator.” As a matter of fact, we advise newly marrying couples to select such a person in advance. (This is RDL now: early in our marriage we both agreed on my father. To my astonishment, in about two thirds of the issues on which we consulted him, he sided with Susan. But we were both fine with his rulings and we both accepted them with no stress on our relationship.)
Take care of each other and safe driving,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin