Help! Hubby Wants To Pack Heat, but I Won't Have Kids if He Has Guns.

Advice on manners and morals.
Oct. 13 2011 7:16 AM

Weapon of Choice

My husband insists we buy a gun to protect our family, but I disdain firearms.

Emily Yoffe.
Photograph by Teresa Castracane.

Emily Yoffe

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Dear Prudence,
My husband and I have been married for a year and a half and we have a wonderful relationship. Before we got married, we discussed what we thought were all the key deal-breakers: children, career goals, finances, etc. When we disagreed, one of us was always willing to reach a compromise. One thing we "agreed to disagree" about is gun control. I’m a pacifist and despise guns. He feels everyone has the right to bear arms. We had the worst fight ever last year over the fact that we do not have a gun in our home. We live in a city, and he fears a break-in. He says guns can be stored safely and he never knew where his dad's gun was kept. I don't understand the point in having one for defense if it's locked up. We agreed to think about it and discuss it later, but it's been months and he won't discuss it. We've been talking about having children, but I don't want to raise a child in a home with a gun, and he doesn't want to have a child in a house that is unprotected. I don't want to have a child until we can work this out. How do we reach a compromise when we both have such strong views?

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—Gun Shy

Dear Shy,
Talk about being held up at gunpoint! You can’t start a family because your husband refuses to discuss the impasse you’re at over firearms. His obstinacy—is he seething about this?—is hardly making the case that you’ll be safer with a gun in the house. You two come at this with strong but rather inchoate views: You’re a pacifist who loathes guns. He’s a Second Amendment purist who needs protection from the hordes stalking your city. Instead of digging in, it would be helpful if you each could concede the other has a point. If everyone shared your view there would be no need for guns; but they don’t, so there is. If he acts as if the world outside your door resembles Grand Theft Auto, he needs to be more realistic about the actual threat. In most of the country serious crime has been plummeting for years. But if your neighborhood requires armed defense, then move. As for break-ins, ask him to explore alternatives that would make both of you comfortable: maybe an alarm system and reinforced windows and doors. My guess is that for him this is less about crime than his desire to be the kind of all-protective figure his father was, and that requires a gun. By nature, I have a terror of guns. But I came to have an appreciation for the pleasure of mastering firearms when I took target practice lessons a few years ago. Maybe one way to get over this impasse would be for both of you to go to a firing range. If your husband won’t get certified in safety and basic skills, then he’s undone his own argument about gun ownership. But maybe he’ll back off his insistence that you need a gun in your home if he sees you’re willing to explore his point of view by wrapping your fingers around one and hitting a bull’s eye.

—Prudie

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Dear Prudence,
Two weeks ago I married the woman of my dreams. However the wedding of her dreams became a nightmare. At the reception one of my college buddies was involved in an altercation with my wife’s cousin. My college friend broke a beer bottle and stabbed my wife’s cousin. He was hospitalized and required surgery that night. The authorities were called, and my friend was charged with felonies and is facing prison time. Believe me, I never thought he was capable of something like this or I would not have invited him. Obviously, the reception was ruined. What is the etiquette following this? For one thing, the assailant gave us a sizable cash gift. Do we return the money to him? How about my wife’s cousin, who gave us a check? And should we apologize to the other guests?

—Reception Regrets

Dear Regrets,
You know you’ve had a unique wedding reception when you can refer to one of the guests as “the assailant” and wonder if you should post on your wedding website: “Sorry for the bloodshed.” Obviously, had you known your buddy was a potential homicidal maniac, you wouldn’t have invited him, so you are not responsible for these horrifying events. I hope your friend gets to contemplate his problem with anger and alcohol in a small cell for several years. Often I hear of brides and bridesmaids who will never speak to each other again over some silly hurt feelings during the wedding frenzy. But when one wedding guest attempts to sever the carotid artery of another, that’s sufficient reason to cut the former out of your life forever. Sure, this guy could use the money he gave you for his legal defense, but he doesn’t deserve it. I assume your wife’s cousin has medical bills and other expenses associated with the attack. You could say to the cousin that you appreciate his check, but in light of what happened, you would prefer not to cash it. You could add that you’d like to use some of your wedding gift money to help pay for his recuperation. (Do not reveal the source of your largesse.) If he accepts the offer, fine. If not, feel free to pocket the cash. You do not have to apologize to the rest of your guests. However, when you write your thank-you notes, you could open by saying something like, “I imagine ours is a wedding party you’ll never forget.”

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
A dear friend of mine recently lost her hair to chemotherapy treatments for advanced breast cancer. She and I have been friends since high school, 30 years ago. Ever since we were teenagers, she has praised my shiny brown locks and occasionally joked that she'd trade her much admired legs for my hair. She's understandably despondent about losing her hair since starting treatment. I want to surprise her by giving her a wig made of my hair. I contacted a company that does this and verified that my hair meets their specifications. My husband thinks the idea is thoughtful but lacks propriety. I love a good surprise and really want to help her in an unexpected way. If she were to refuse the wig I could still donate it for the cause. Is it OK to get a short hairdo and surprise my friend as to why?

—Thick and Thin

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