Saturday, April 05, 2008

"Dear Abby" drops the ball

Here is a question and answer from April 2, 2008 Dear Abby column (letter reproduced below):

"DEAR ABBY: My husband, 'Lee,' and I have been married two years and have kept all of our finances separate, including having different auto insurance policies. While I was away on a business trip, Lee moved my car and parked it in our circular driveway. Subsequently, a tree limb broke and dented my car's trunk. I was extremely distressed that damage was done to my car when I wasn't even in the vicinity. I feel that, as a minimum, Lee should pay half of my car's deductible. He refuses because he says it was an act of nature. Obviously neither of us was directly to blame, but I truly believe he should pay half the deductible because he moved my car in the first place. What do you think? -- OUT ON A LIMB IN GEORGIA

DEAR OUT ON A LIMB: I see the logic. However, it depends on why your husband moved your car. If Lee moved it because it was street-cleaning or trash collection day, then he should not be penalized. However, if he moved it on a whim, he should fork over his half of the deductible. Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069."

Say, what? Has she lost her mind? Let me take a stab at it...

Dear Out On a Limb: You are not married. If you have separate finances, you are simply friends and business associates who share an address, and perhaps even recreational sex. Married people are "one flesh" - they share one another's burdens, and are committed to one another for life. They do not see themselves as two distinct financial entities, but rather pool all resources for the common good. They do not allow material possessions to dictate the terms of their life together.

If you really want to be married: 1) stop going on "business trips" and be a "helpmeet" to your husband, 2) unify your finances (unless you are "hedging your bets" and presuming you will be getting a divorce, in which case you have some other arrangement than marriage) 3) Treat your car for what it is: a car. It is not a living creature. Unlike your "husband," it is incapable of giving or receiving love. Get your priorities straight. 4) Treat your "husband" as a part of your own body, not as a litigant in small claims court.

You and your "husband" need to learn what marriage is. In a marriage, you can no more gain by making your spouse pay you than a right arm "wins" by chopping off the left arm. Grow up and accept the fact that bad stuff happens - and it happens to you together. That's why you have insurance. Don't waste the blessings of married life on such trivial squabbling.

Finally, don't waste your time asking Dear Abby. She seems clueless.


Benjamin J. Ulledalen said...

The part in "Abby's" response about "street cleaning day" made this seem like some kind of joke, but I know it isn't.

Lord have mercy.

Rosko said...

Amen, Father.

solarblogger said...

Nice response!

How different is this from the picture C.S. Lewis gave us in That Hideous Strength. He wrote of a woman named Ivy who married a man who had been guilty—without informing her—of theft before their marriage, though he was making an honest living when they met. Ivy's sense of morality was stern. She was "ever so upset" about this when the crime was unearthed and her husband had to do jail time. But it had never occurred to Ivy that "it should alter her relations with her husband—as though theft, like ill health, were one of the normal risks one took in getting married." (That Hideous Strength, p. 299)

Father Hollywood said...


"one of the normal risks one took in getting married" - brilliant! Lewis for writing it, and you for applying it. :-)