Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: So imagine my surprise when I got home to discover my fiancee had lovingly had my name tattooed on a private area of her body.
For me, tattoos represent low-life, trailer-trash graffiti of the body. To be fair, I don’t recall ever having discussed my views of such with her, so I tried to feign some enthusiasm: “Wow, honey, I can’t believe you did that. I feel so … honored.” However, privately, I’m really kind of bummed out about it, and the prospect of watching that thing age and stretch over the years is totally turning me off.
No, I won’t break off the engagement over this, but what on earth do I do to not be repulsed by this going forward, and how do I make sure it never happens again? If it becomes a habit, I really might not be able to go forward, and I wouldn’t want any future kids to think it’s OK because Mommy has it.
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What also bothers me is that she went ahead and did it without even consulting with me. Yeah, her body is her own, but still, we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together and it seems kind of insulting to make such a dramatic decision without even a conversation (although it was meant to surprise me and make me happy). Ugh!
Ooh, you guys have some talking to do.
I’m sure people are going to make an argument for just letting the issue drop (and age and stretch, ha ha, get it?), because what’s done is done. But your opinion on this isn’t just strong — it’s throwing off hate sparks. “(L)ow-life, trailer-trash graffiti of the body”? Yikes.
And you believe she owed you a consultation that you feel insulted not to have gotten … and you can’t bear the thought that your kids might get tattoos … and now we’re beyond mere ink and into values. If I were about to marry someone with the opinions you both expressed and implied here, then I’d want to know about it, even if I had just gotten his name painfully inked on my (redacted).
In hopes that you have more in common philosophically than it sounds, here’s a suggested opener: “I know you meant this as about as intimate a gift as you could give, and I want to love it that way. You deserve to know, though, that I have a real problem with tattoos.”
No hedging to keep the peace: Admit that you: dislike how tattoos look; judge and make class assumptions about people who have them; think you’re owed a say in her body and appearance; vehemently do not want your children to get tattoos themselves.
Have you thought ahead, by the way, to when they’re 18? 21? If they get tattoos, will you shun them, withdraw financial support, take every chance to express your dismay?
Or, because they’re your children, will you come around to letting people change your mind about ink, versus ink changing your mind about people?
If that’s a possibility, then please get a jump on it now — due respect for the woman you love.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.