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Carolyn Hax: Husband got an email that he was exposed to covid, didn’t tell his wife

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)
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Hi Carolyn: My husband went to a party at his men’s club this week. Wives were invited but I decided not to go for other reasons, and I also said I don’t think it was a good idea for everybody to be in a closed space like that, given covid.

Three days later, I see an email from the head of the men's club informing all the members that several people tested positive after the party. Two days after that, I see he deleted the email and has not said a word to me. (It's a business account and I'm the admin, so I see all emails.)

So what do you think of a spouse who would:

(a) not tell his wife, our children, employees, customers? His job entails going into customers' houses;

(b) not get tested;

(c) not quarantine?

I am absolutely sick over his behavior. Should I confront him? I know it’s going to be World War III because he never accepts responsibility for anything and will have 1,001 excuses and twist it around onto me.

— S.

S.: Any chance he didn’t read it? Inbox fatigue is one of America’s quieter epidemics.

But your expecting World War III says you already know what kind of person he is regardless: defensive, selfish, and — I suspect this is the big one — deeply insecure.

So let's say he did read it. A strong, secure person can admit fault. “You were right, the party was a bad idea.”

A strong, secure person can fix his mistakes and protect his family, for gobsmacking starters, as well as the general public.

Apparently you need to be the strong and secure one for all of you. Start by telling him what you saw. If he hadn't read it, great — I'll celebrate with you by lighting a bonfire with the rest of this answer.

But if he did see it, did knowingly delete it to avoid taking responsibility, and does act out when you call him on it, then you need to be strong again in riding out his tantrum, getting the family swabbed and, if he's positive, notifying others per CDC and company protocols.

In case I wasn't clear enough at the top, I'll elaborate: Recklessness with covid exposure is the shape it may have assumed here, but the real problem — which is ongoing and clearly exists independently of this incident — is your husband's poor character.

Someone who “never accepts responsibility for anything and will have 1,001 excuses and twist it around onto me” lacks integrity, can't be trusted, can't engage meaningfully in an intimate relationship, and is a thunderously bad example to children. When it's a choice between caring for others and protecting himself, he chooses himself; his need for supremacy trumps others' needs. The trait you described speaks these volumes.

Thin skin is not only the origin of the selfish acts you describe, but also profoundly sad. What formative experience(s) left him feeling so weak that the basic health protocol of notification and testing — mildly embarrassing at worst, and I'd argue against even that — was just too emotionally risky for him to handle? What warping of his priorities made running away — i.e., deleting the email — seem like a viable option?

Once you’ve found appointments to get the whole family covid-tested, please start the search for therapists accepting new patients. (Ideas on my resource page.) These five days of deceit and dysfunction don’t stand alone and won’t end with this argument. Your kids need clear, compassionate leadership, and your husband needs help that he will most likely refuse to get. That’s a lot for one spouse to carry. A professional can help you develop a plan.

Dear Carolyn: My daughter is a beautiful ballet dancer. She is an adult. She gets very angry if I send pictures or short videos to friends and family.

We allowed her to leave high school to follow her dream. We fully funded her dance education and living expenses. People ask me for recent pictures. She has forbidden me to send anything.

Do I have any freedom of speech? She posts on social media so it’s in the public domain, as are her performances. It’s just me that’s not allowed to share.

— Proud Mom Who Can’t Share Her Joy

Proud Mom Who Can’t Share Her Joy: “Freedom of speech” means the government can’t legally stop you from posting your daughter’s dance videos. It does not mean you have patriotic high ground in an intrafamily spat.

“Can” doesn't mean “should.”

She said no, so: No. Don't share. Your support, your money, your pride, your feelings, her talent, her beauty, her posting habits, and logic itself are all subordinate to her clearly stated wishes. I think you know that already, so please stop looking for back doors. Is any shared photo really worth the (further) strain on your relationship with your daughter?

Proud moms can share their joy thusly: “Have a look — she posts often on Twitbook.”

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