Sunday, July 17, 2016

Why emotionally blackmail someone over stuff?

I confess, I have a few guilty pleasures in my blog reading. There is a mommy blogger who tends to have recipes that are usually pretty awesome and I find some humor in her chattering about life at large. While I do my best to avoid the mommy brigade, there are a few that I read because their writing style entertains me and I usually find them a point of light on a dark day. So, I was disappointed when I saw her triumphant post about how she finally managed to get her spouse to throw away his childhood baseball card collection after harassing him over it for 19 years.

I get that she wants her house to have as little waste as possible. I get that she wants to have as few nicknacks to clean up as possible. I even can appreciate the frustration of someone in your family collecting things that you don't understand the appeal for and get irritated upon the sight of them. All of these sentiments I can empathize with and appreciate. At some point in time, I have had them myself or been the object of this sort of feeling.

Those feelings don't give me free reign to pick at my spouse over the hobbies he has. They don't give me the right to tell him 'you're a grown up now, get rid of this childish stuff.' That is simply beyond the pale. I don't dictate who my husband is (aka how 'childish' or 'adult' he is) and I don't get to tell him that his hobbies are bad if they're not harming anyone or causing us problems in our ability to take care of our children, home, responsibilities, or marriage. A few binders full of cards is not a problem.

I'm sorry, but if you are going to take the position that the equivalent of a photo album is enough of a problem in your household that you have to harass your spouse about getting rid of them for an extended length of time, you've got a big problem and it isn't that photo album. Telling someone that they're immature or that they're childish because of what they enjoy is harmful to them. You are telling them that there is something WRONG with them because they're doing something that makes them happy and YOU are uncomfortable with it because it doesn't meet YOUR expectations of what and adult is supposed to be like. You are the problem here.

Because you don't get to tell your spouse WHO THEY ARE. Full stop. You are attempting to dictate elements of their personality and psyche on the basis of arbitrary bullshit and your level of discomfort with the way they fit into your arbitrary bullshit generator. If your uncomfortable with your spouse's hobby but it isn't doing you any harm beyond making you mildly uncomfortable with how you perceive their maturity level, you need to fix your issue. A pack of cards does not dictate the maturity level of the person possessing them. Additionally, a pack of cards does not dictate a damn thing about the state of your home other than the fact that you or someone in your home owns a pack of fucking cards.

The world is full of ugly, horrific things. If your spouse finds joy in little things and it is not causing problems in their ability to meet their responsibilities, provide emotional support, or otherwise be a partner in your relationship, then you need to suck it up and deal with the fact that they are going to find joy in things that are not going to appeal to you. You don't get to dictate what is 'grown up' and attempting to do so is going to cause emotional damage to your spouse and undermine their sense of self esteem.

I'll rephrase that into something a little more concise.

Your bullshit behavior over a pack of cards is emotional abuse. You are telling them that they're not good enough as who they are. You don't get to do that. You are not the gatekeeper of what is an acceptable adult. You are not the gatekeeper of who is an acceptable person.

The only person you get to make those kinds of decisions for are yourself.

And if you can't handle someone getting some happiness out of a pack of cards that has some warm, fuzzy emotional memories attached to them, then you need to acquire some emotional and psychological fortitude because this kind of crap is what dooms long term relationships.

So, yeah, after 19 years you managed to brow beat your husband into getting rid of his momentos from his happier childhood days. Good job. Next, are you going to start telling your kids to throw away their favorite belongings because you've decided they're too old to do what makes THEM happy too?

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