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Carolyn Hax: Husband ‘really upset’ that he can’t pick out spouse’s new car

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: The first brand-new car I ever bought, my boyfriend (now husband), helped me pick out. He’s really into cars and knew a lot more than I did at the time. He pretty much picked out the car and I agreed to it. Over the years I came to realize it wasn’t really my first choice.

It’s time for me to get a new car again. We keep our finances separate and each contribute a set amount to our joint checking and joint savings/investments. I’ve been saving, separately, and I have enough to put a pretty big down payment and finance the rest for only a year or two.

My husband started showing me his ideas on what car I should buy, but I told him I want to do this on my own. I want to do my own research, take test drives on my own, basically I want to buy the car without his help. To my surprise, he’s really upset about this. He told me he feels rejected and hurt and thinks I will get taken advantage of.

My job includes negotiating with vendors so that’s ridiculous. He has bought two new cars since we’ve been together and I’ve never been consulted on them — which was fine but now it’s my turn, I think. I just want to pick my own car — is that so much to ask? What can I say to my husband to help him understand where I’m coming from?

— Unreasonable?

Unreasonable?: Oh for fox’s sake, no, it’s not unreasonable for you to pick out the car you will be driving.

So: “This is the car I will be driving. I decide whether I like driving it.”

He has expertise in cars, but you have expertise in you. You win. Don’t explain it beyond one final, “My car, my choice.” The taken-advantage-of part, well, I could go off on multiple rants there, but I won’t, except to say it’s about his spinning things to his advantage at your expense to maintain control over you. Hold firm. I hope he won’t pout for too long.

Readers’ thoughts:

· The point is “I want to pick it based on what I value in a car. Not what YOU value you in a car, which may not match up with what I am looking for.”

Would you feel comfortable letting him know what you choose and allowing him to weigh in on any potential issues he sees? It’s fine if the answer is no, you wouldn’t feel comfortable. But it could also be useful for you to hear if he has any knowledge about this particular car that would be an issue. And still move forward having heard him, regardless of whether you take his advice.

As far as getting taken advantage of, “Wow, I’m amazed you think so little of my ability to understand basic negotiating. THAT’s hurtful to me.” To borrow a phrase: Return that awkward to sender.

· No, no, no, to asking his thoughts on the choice if she doesn’t want to do that. Adults can make this decision just fine. I have always bought cars on my own. I’m not an expert on cars. I can research and find excellent cars I like, and I’m also a good negotiator.

Me again. Count me as another no, no, no vote on calling in the spousal consult. Don’t feed the helplessness narrative. Thanks.

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