Perspective | Carolyn Hax: Husband Spent New Year’s Eve With Co-Workers, Instead Of Sick Spouse

Carolyn Hax is away. The following is from Jan. 13, 2008.

Dear Carolyn: I’ve been married almost 10 years. Just before Christmas I got really sick — flat-on-my-back, fever, taking-antibiotics sick. I was pretty much down for the count for more than a week. My husband had emailed some work associates a week before and suggested that a bunch of people get together at a bar downtown for New Year’s Eve. No RSVP, no idea who would or wouldn’t show up, just a general, “Hey, let’s all get together and party” kind of thing. By 5 on New Year’s Eve, I still wasn’t well enough to contemplate going. I told him he’d have to go without me (never thinking he’d actually go) — although I couldn’t see why it would be so important to him, considering he had no idea whether anyone he knew would even show up at that bar that night. He went anyway, saying, “I don’t want to be known as the guy who suggested everyone get together and then didn’t show up myself.” Essentially, he wants people to be able to take him at his word.

So off he went, and I stayed home on the couch with old movie reruns. He never saw the irony of “being true to his word” when it came to staying home with me. Is it too much to ask that he choose to stay home with me rather than run off to a bar just in case some of his friends from work showed up?

— Irritated

Irritated: Is it too much to ask that you say what you mean, instead of expecting a spouse to read your mind?

If it was important to you for him to stay home, then it was your job to say so. He may still have chosen to go — reasonably, since, even though the gathering was clearly informal, he was even more clearly its host (plus, you weren’t hanging-by-a-thread sick, you were let’s-see-how-I-feel-at-5-p.m. sick). But at least he would have been able to discuss it with you before the fact, instead of paying for it after.

In other words, if you’re capable of seeing the irony in your questioning the quality of his word — when you told him with utter and knowing insincerity that “he’d have to go without” you — then you’ll have to agree that your husband did nothing wrong.

Dear Carolyn: My future sister-in-law, whom I have never met, just informed me that her entire left arm has tattoos on it, including skulls soaking in blood. I am not a tattoo person and I am kind of freaked out. I had planned on the bridesmaids wearing spaghetti-strap dresses. What do I do?

— W.

W.: On behalf of the merging families, please treat the tattoos as the nonissue they are. Even if they did somehow affect or reflect on you or your wedding, which they most emphatically don’t, they still wouldn’t be worth tanking your relationship with your husband’s sister before it even starts. She is family, not family with an asterisk.

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