Am I Freaking Out, or is He Being Unreasonable?


Last week my husband and I left home in search of some fresh-picked apples and came home with a puppy.

I’m not a huge dog lover, but he is, and has been talking about getting one since we got married in 2013. Little did I know, as we made a Trader Joe’s stop for apple cider and baking ingredients on the way back from the orchard with a trunkful of Jonathans and Goldens, that my husband was eyeing the pet shop next door with the all-day puppy adoption event.

It was a set-up. Two sets of puppy-dog eyes pleading with me. Two begging stances. I gave in hard.

I spent a couple days congratulating myself on being a good wife who was willing to be spontaneous and get out of her comfort zone–and put up with a few accidents on the living room carpet–to make her husband happy.

And then yesterday, I learned that my husband, raised on a ranch in the West, has been giving the dog and the baby baths together. Our stinky puppy and our sweet baby. Together in a bathtub. To me, this seems like the sort of situation you can imagine in old-timey black-and-white photos from the 1860s when people were less worried about things like parasites and disease transference. Not the sort of thing that well-educated, loving 21st-century parents in Arlington, Virginia would put up with.

Am I hyperventilating? Sorry about that.

To be clear, we haven’t resolved this situation yet. My husband maintains it’s good for healthy child development and demands that I come up with a specific reason why it’s bad to bathe the animal and baby together. I just feel it’s generally unsanitary and icky. But we’ll work through it.

This impasse is uncomfortably similar to those TV-show comedy situations, where the clueless husband’s harebrained ideas are tanked by the humorless, uptight wife. It’s not a situation I like or want for our marriage.

And thankfully, I think we’re getting better at this as our marriage matures. My husband has his own, sometimes unconventional, ways of doing things. And they’re not necessarily worse than my ways, just different. I’ve learned he’ll always ask me why I think my way is better–and I won’t always have a logical answer.

Whether we’re disagreeing about how we stack the cutting boards, or whether the baby should be allowed to splash in the creek with just a diaper on, I’m learning to be willing to hear his point of view and accept that the way I’ve always thought things should be done is not necessarily the right way to do them.

We get closer when I do agree to go along with things that are out of character for me, like decided at the last minute to bring home a dog. And when I commit to be more thoughtful before raising objections to my husband’s way of doing things, my husband  takes it more seriously when I do decide to veto an idea. This is still a work in progress, but I think by doing this we’re getting better at communicating and understanding each other.

As far as the dog-baby bath situation, though? I’ll have to report back.

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