Dear Prudence: Seat belt refusal is tearing apart my family.

Help! I'm Pregnant, and My Husband Won't Wear His Seat Belt. Ever.

Help! I'm Pregnant, and My Husband Won't Wear His Seat Belt. Ever.

Advice on manners and morals.
June 18 2013 6:15 AM

Strap In or Get Out

In a live chat, Prudie counsels a pregnant woman whose husband refuses to wear his seat belt.

(Continued from Page 1)

Q. Re: Seat belts: I worked as an EMT several years—we've never unbuckled a dead person in an accident. We did see people thrown out of cars who were killed, and people who bounced around the inside of a car and were real messed up. Very, very rarely a person will get trapped inside a burning car, but that's very much the exception. For the most part, cars in an accident blow up and burn only in the movies, not real life. I call anyone who does not put a child in a car seat a potential murderer.

A: Thanks for this from someone who has been at the scene of many accidents.


Q. Husband Thinks I'm a Pervert: My husband and I have had a disagreement lately. I see no problem walking around my house in my undies (and sometimes less), not really caring if the curtains are opened or closed. My husband (who won't leave the bedroom without being fully dressed) thinks this makes me perverted since "anyone can look through the windows and see." I think that as long as I don't see anyone outside (and I do double-check) and I'm hardly doing a dance in front of the window, then it's no big deal—typically I'm walking from point A to point B. Am I wrong for thinking there's nothing wrong with what I'm doing in the privacy of my own house?

A: If walking around scantily or unclad in your own home makes you a pervert then the definition of that word has more elasticity than a bra strap. Couples often differ on what constitutes a comfortable level of hanging out when hanging around. Your husband sounds like a Richard-Nixon-walking-on-the-beach-in-a-suit type. You apparently feel any wardrobe is a malfunction when it comes to relaxing. I think partners should give each other a lot of leeway, but also respect respective sensibilities. If watching the playoffs on the couch in the nude is OK all around, great. But if one partner finds that distracting, the other should put on a robe or some minimal clothing. Of course you are entitled to walk around your house minimally (or not at all) dressed. But even if you scan the horizon to make sure no one is nearby, you can't prevent others from coming along, glancing in your window, and getting an eyeful. For extended time around the home, you might be willing to compromise and wear a bathrobe, or shorts and a T-shirt, so that you're relaxed but not on display.

Q. Re: Seat belts: From the OP, thank you for the support and ideas, and from the other commenters. I definitely feel more confident in telling him this is a nonnegotiable, starting now! (As for moving violations, he's lucked out, and only had a couple.)

A: Great. Start putting this into action right away. Sometimes there are things for which there is no compromise, and seat belts are one.

Q. Lost Pregnancy: How Do I Handle Gifts?: After trying for nearly two years, including months of fertility treatments, my husband and I were thrilled to find out that I was pregnant. Our friends, family, and co-workers have shared in our excitement. One co-worker in particular was kind enough to give me enough maternity clothes to last the entire pregnancy. To show my gratitude, I sent her a thank you card and a gift certificate to one of her favorite haunts. Unfortunately, at the second trimester ultrasound we got some very bad news. The baby has a birth defect that is "not compatible with life." (The birth defect was caused by a random genetic mutation and not the fertility treatments.) If I were to carry the pregnancy to term, he would live for a few hours at most. Rather than subject him to this suffering, my husband and I have decided that the most humane option is to terminate the pregnancy. When the timing is right, I would very much like to try to get pregnant again. While grieving this turn of events, I've also been preoccupied with how I should handle the maternity clothes. Do I offer to return them, and if so, how do I have that conversation? It's a trivial matter compared to everything else that is going on, but I am loathe to offend someone who has been so generous with me.

A: I'm so sorry for your news, which is so sad and painful. There's nothing unusual in being in an overwhelming situation and finding yourself focusing on a small, even trivial matter because the big things are just too hard. You didn't say your co-worker loaned you the clothes, you said she gave them to you. You thanked her generously. So there's nothing you need to do about this gift. Your co-worker would certainly hope—as you do—that in due time this gift will again be useful. So put the clothes away and don't give them another thought. If you need to talk to others who have been through what you are going through, consider contacting Share, which is a support group for pregnancy and infant loss.

Q. Soon to Be Former In-Law: My wife and I just learned our daughter and her husband have decided to divorce. It's for a reason discussed here before—he wants children, she doesn't. We're stunned and hurt because he was up-front about this and she has come to a conclusion which we feel is more about her social lifestyle than parenting. But it is what it is and it is her choice. Problem is that we've been crazy about the young man from the first time we met him (he's everything you dreamed of your daughter marrying, i.e. funny, successful, outgoing) and now we are experiencing an incredible sense of loss. It just sounds too weird to think of trying to maintain a relationship with him, after all he's got time to go meet someone else, marry, and have a family, and our daughter would never forgive us. But we're experiencing severe depression over this, to the point where we're actually communicating less with our daughter who we believe is the unreasonable party in this case. What should we do to go on from here?

A: This is a loss. It's a loss of someone you've come to love dearly, and it's the loss of a future you thought would happen. But you're right that it's only going to be destructive to you to take your son-in-law's side in this situation. He will move on, and you don't want to have a damaged relationship with your daughter. This doesn't mean you have hide everything you're feeling, you just have to temper it. You can tell your daughter you feel a sense of mourning because she did choose someone wonderful to spend her life with, and unfortunately it hasn't worked out. Since she couldn't be persuaded by the man she loves to have children, there's no good to come out of your telling her how superficial you feel her decision is and how likely she is to regret it. As you say, this is her choice. If you have some dear friends you feel comfortable in confiding in, this is the kind of thing that it helps to just get off your chest. If you don't want to talk about this with your social group, seek sort-term counseling. Sometimes you just need a sympathetic ear and a box of Kleenex.

Emily Yoffe: Thanks so much, everyone. Talk to you next week.

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Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.