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Carolyn Hax: Wife should allow you to share news

Carolyn Hax Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: My wife is a private person, especially when it comes to problems. I hear “Everyone has their own problems so they don’t need to be burdened with mine” at least once a week. Normally I would think this is a good attitude, except for the big problem we found out about recently: The consensus of several doctors is that a pregnancy would kill her.

We have always wanted children and this is a terrible blow to us both, which we are working through. She doesn’t want to tell anyone even though we are constantly asked by family and friends: “So when are you going to have a baby?” I think they have a right to know so we aren’t getting badgered every five minutes, but she doesn’t want “pity” or “advice” and feels she needs to handle it in her own way. What’s your opinion? – Boston

Your wife is entitled to handle it in her own way, but so are you. And if your way is to share your news, then, out of respect for you and your marriage, she owes it to you to release her grip on this difficult information.

Certainly, because it is her marriage, too, and specifically her health at issue, your right to tell others is limited; it’s not so simple as her choosing not to tell and your choosing to tell and everyone living happily ever after. Out of respect for her sense of privacy, you’ll need to confide only in a select few whose support you prefer and whose discretion you trust.

In fact, it won’t even be as simple as asserting your right to grieve, even on these limited terms. If you subject her rationale to a cursory sniff test, you’ll see that calling her a “private person” is a euphemism.

This is the woman you love, and whose philosophy on “burdens” you seem to respect. I’m not interested in changing these, nor will she change except of her own volition. I’m simply suggesting that you’re mistaking fear for courage. For your emotional health and hers, please try to discriminate between burdening others, and simply letting them in.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.
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