Dear Carolyn: My wife doesn’t trust my doctors for a genetic condition that I have dealt with since before I met her, and that is under control. I have a nice quality of life now. She is insistent I see a naturopath because my neurologist doesn’t know how to treat me, according to her. I got cavities and the dentist said it is because of my saliva, based on genetics, and I should use a fluoride rinse. My wife says fluoride is evil and my cavities can be fixed by the naturopath. She gave me a link to a web site talking about the evils of fluoride that also includes lots of information about how vaccines are evil and kids don’t need them.
We are trying to have kids and I am worried she is starting down a rabbit hole of not trusting doctors, and may turn against vaccines. She says she is for them now. I have tried talking to her about this but she brushes it off and says it would be best if I just admit she is right, half-joking. How do I go about expressing my worries on her doubts of my medical care?
How can I say this and not sound like a completely boundary-challenged whacknut …
PLEASE STOP TRYING TO HAVE KIDS.
You have a valid concern that she’s trying to micromanage your health care; you have a valid, even bigger concern that she is trending toward extreme views on health and child care.
But these are just on-ramps to the mother of all concerns, the one that single-handedly drives most of the coupled misery that finds its way to my inbox: She is not listening to you! Or respecting you. She is deciding unilaterally what she believes and she is sticking to that without any regard for what you think/say/want/need/believe. I wish I had numbers on this because I suspect this kills more marriages than infidelity does. Why? Because you can work with, reason and share with someone who experiences a failure of impulse control, but good luck trying any of those with someone who thinks She’s Right About It All.
This unfortunately brings us to a solution that has built-in obstacles to working: counseling. Very good marriage counseling. Actually, individual counseling for her, since her alarmism might stem from anxiety, but I put the chances of her agreeing to go at zero so I’m going with marriage counseling at least to help jump-start your communication. Which she likely won’t agree to or (if she does go) absorb and learn from, because She’s Right About It All.
I really don’t want to be pessimistic, but unless you and she can shift your dynamic to one of actual, mindful, respect-based discussion, I don’t see an outcome of happy togetherness. So the question isn’t how to express your worries; just say, kindly and soon, that you trust your doctors with your well-managed health and want her to stop pressing the issue. The question is, what’s the next step if she doesn’t budge?
If she digs in, she’s essentially limiting you to three choices: love it, leave it, or go to counseling alone. Option 3 at least gives you the time and resources to think.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com.