Once again, I have read something in print that I don’t understand at all, and I’m concerned that, like comedian Lewis Black’s routine about over-hearing someone say, “if it wasn’t for that horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college” and obsessing over what it could possibly mean, the statement will fester in my brain until, like an aneurysm, it explodes and kills me.
This time the potentially deadly passage came from Phillip Gallane’s New York Times advice column, “Social Q’s.” I stopped caring what Gallanes thought after he revealed himself to be a standard-issue left-biased, Trump Deranged social justice warrior, but a Times Sunday Styles section was just sitting there next to the toilet, and now my life is endangered.
Here is what I read as the first question in his column: “Wife” wrote,
I was remarried two years ago to a caring and considerate man. He moved into my home with my two kids (who are now away at college). When he arrived, he subtly let me know that he didn’t expect to pay any household expenses. I work part-time and have some family money, but I’m still on a budget. I didn’t mind paying for everything until the pandemic hit. Now, I’ve lost my job and my investments have taken a hit, so my finances are tight. I’ve brought up my situation several times, but my husband says things are tight for him too. (Our incomes are about the same.) I can’t help feeling hurt and resentful. He knows this, but he does nothing. Any advice?
Wait, what? The starting point for ethical analysis is a careful answer to the question, “What’s going on here?” In this case, it is more like,
These people are married, but the husband has “subtly” announced that he doesn’t intend to help pay for the expenses? I’m sorry, maybe it’s because none of the women in my life were born slugs, but I can’t imagine any husband getting away with that for a second, much less years. What is worse for my imperiled brain, the wife who relays this tale begins by saying that her husband is “caring and considerate.” On what planet? It’s early, and for some reason everything reminds me of song lyrics (guess what I was humming as soon as I wrote “born slugs”) and movies in the morning, so a second clip from the Ethics Alarms archive seems relevant here:
Never mind Gallanes’ reply: it doesn’t matter what he thinks the woman should do. The question that has to be answered to save my life is how anyone could get in this absurd situation in the first place. How could a man enter into a marriage with that attitude? How could any woman tolerate it if he did? How can a marriage include the ground rule, “You’re on your own. kid! Don’t expect any help from me!”
Please help. The clock is ticking.