Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Question: Is it unreasonable to ask a spouse to drive you to an airport two hours away for a three-hour flight? I would normally drive myself and leave my car there, but I'll have our toddler with me, and dealing with parking shuttles and luggage and a kid with unpredictable moods seems like an awful lot to take on by myself.
I'm going to this airport instead of a closer one because it would save a lot on airfare and we can get a nonstop flight.
My husband loves me, but he sometimes balks at even minor requests. On the other hand, I'm not sure this is a minor request, because I'm basically asking him to make two four-hour round trips. I feel like I'm bean-counting, but I need an objective viewpoint here. Thanks.
Answer: If I were scripting the perfect scenario, he would offer to take you (to spare you the toddler- and luggage-wrangling hassles) and you would refuse the offer - to spare him eight hours of driving just to help you with, if you just suck it up and deal with it, what amounts to two sessions of toddler- and luggage-wrangling. What's that, 30 inconvenient minutes each way, car to terminal and back?
I imagine that if he had a good record on helping out with the small stuff, you wouldn't even think of asking him to help you here: You'd feel the natural obligation of partnership to shoulder your share of the weight. But, since he has been fussy about his share, you're annoyed at having to go out of your way to spare him anything. Fair?
If so, then it doesn't really matter how you handle this particular situation. You still need to address the bigger issue of your feeling as if you're hauling more than your share.
Q: Spend a little of the money you saved on airfare to ship your luggage ahead. That way you just have a carry-on and your child to deal with.
A: Great solution to the practical problem, thanks. (Which will presumably free up energy for the emotional problem.)
Q: Another way to look at it: as an opportunity to spend an extra four hours with his family that he wouldn't otherwise have. Blessedly for me, my boyfriend represents the other end of the spectrum. He's voluntarily gone two hours on public transportation to meet me when I get in, and he's volunteered without any prompting to see me off just to spend more time with me, even knowing he'll have to go the reverse trip alone.
My parents walked on eggshells with each other, and I grew up thinking it was normal. Then, through therapy (and more confidence), I learned it's a huge red flag to be afraid of asking basic things of someone for fear of upsetting them.
I love your advice here, and I think the eggshell issue is one she should also think about, whether her fears stem more from her own anxieties or more from her husband's past reactions.
A: Good to consider her concept of "normal," thanks. And never overlook the simple solution: Would she do this for him? Gladly or grudgingly, and why?
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.