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Pressuring husband to stay in unfriendly environment is selfish

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Pressuring husband to stay in unfriendly environment is selfish

Anonymous: My husband and I are an interracial couple (I'm white) living in an all-white area. We are planning to eventually have children, who will obviously be biracial. My husband faces regular discrimination individually, and we sometimes run into problems as a couple.

I know he wishes he lived in a place where he wouldn't be such a stark minority. However, my whole family lives here (we are very close), and I cannot imagine living anyplace else. Anytime we start to tentatively talk about moving, we end up deciding to stay put. I think he feels very responsible for keeping me happy, and I really don't want to be away from my family. Am I being really selfish here?

Carolyn: How would you like it if people treated you, regularly, like a second-class citizen?

If the answer is anything but "I would love it!!!" then why are you so comfortable choosing that for your husband?

Obviously your husband is making choices for himself, too, but, the way you lay this out, he's making sacrifices for you. And you? Sounds as if you are knowingly sacrificing him for yourself.

That's the definition of selfish.

Again, he's a grownup, and he's choosing to stay with you on these terms, but I have to wonder when he'll start wondering what's in this marriage for him.

Note that I didn't even get to the future kids: The answer for them will be the same as the answer for the two of you. If you're looking at it differently — as in, if you're fine with this solution for your husband, but you'd be willing to go much further to protect your children — then you're the one treating your husband as a second-class citizen, and that needs to stop today.

Anonymous: For Biracial Couple: How do areas become less bigoted if people of color and quality run away? (P.S. I get looks and occasional comments about my whiter-than-me children, but I ain't leavin'.)

Carolyn: That's your choice, one you make for yourself. It's not a choice a spouse should be able to make for you.

If that's why this husband is staying, then more power to him — but he should also tell his wife this so she doesn't continue to feel guilty for pressuring him into living in an unfriendly environment.

And if the husband doesn't share your interest in being a crusader, then that's his prerogative, and his spouse owes him a fair hearing on the issue, not just an empty conversation about moving, during which she quietly chants to herself: "Just don't ask me to move, just don't ask me to move. . . ."

It's a joint, transparent decision between equals, or it's a mistake — whichever option they choose, stay or go.

Performance trumps age

Washington, D.C.: I work hard and have recently been promoted to a senior staff position. I am the youngest person in the senior staff and probably within the division itself. Additionally, I look young for my age. I sometimes hear people talking about my office, the promotion, etc., and about my age. What can I do to combat this?

Carolyn: Your job, well.

Pressuring husband to stay in unfriendly environment is selfish 08/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 9:55am]
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