Question:

I have a chance to take a 10-day trip to China. My wife of two years doesn't fly. All of our trips have been driving or rail.

She says it isn't fair for me to go and leave her alone. If I can get a peaceful resolution, I would be going with my former college roommate, whose wife has no interest in China and doesn't want to go.

I told my wife it feels like a noose around my neck. She said I'm insensitive.

I have always wanted to visit China. What do you think?

Answer:

If your wife wanted to go but you could afford only one ticket, then going without her would be terribly unfair. And if your wife simply didn't want to go but insisted you stay home, too, then she'd be a monster.

You didn't say she "can't" fly, you said she "doesn't" - which suggests a phobia, a place between not wanting to go and not being able to go. And that's where it gets interesting.

Fear is a real obstacle, one a husband ought to respect. However, if a wife intends to force

him

to live by

her

limitations, she then obligates herself to minimize those limitations. And that means getting herself into a program to address her reluctance to fly. Our right to be as scared as we want, or, for that matter, as brave, weird, boring, sick, healthy, skinny, fat, active, lazy, whatever, exists on our own time, at our own expense. When it comes at others' expense, and - this is important - when these others weren't given a chance to understand and agree to these terms, then it at least flirts with a choice to be selfish.

Even if you did agree to ground yourself as a condition of marriage, then you could make an argument for revisiting the agreement - if, say, she reneged on a vow to get help, or you can argue sincerely that you were a twitterpated dope to agree to terms that denied a huge part of yourself. But if that's the case, then you apologize and present a thoughtful case that takes her feelings into account. You don't complain of a "noose."

If, on the other hand, she shortened the leash after you married, then it's her duty to admit she crossed a line and to support your trip, or get herself into the aforesaid treatment.

And when neither of these happens, then you hope you can find a talented marriage counselor before your flight (and, in a way, life) has to take off without you.

Finally, if she really can't fly, a sensitive husband wouldn't want to rub his mobility in her face, and instead would quietly choose travel by land. Likewise, though, a sensitive wife would show her gratitude just as quietly by urging him to take the occasional faraway trip, especially for 10 days, especially one he has always wanted to take.

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