Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Covert Consumer

This week, Danny M. Lavery and Slate writer and editor Dan Kois discuss a Prudie letter: the covert consumer.

Dan Kois: Well!

Thank goodness that this happy couple is sticking it out through hard times!‪

Danny M. Lavery: Right! My first question was…why don’t you want to divorce him again?

Dan Kois: I am searching through this email for any sign that she loves him or has any positive feelings for him of any kind, and coming up blank.

Danny M. Lavery: I don’t fault her for not trusting him — an apology is nice, and the changed behavior is not nothing, but we are talking about 30 years of emotional abuse and continued workaholism/near-total absence from their relationship

I mean, I agree with the LW that her weed use is not the problem, but I don’t think the answer is “just keep getting high and quietly resenting your husband”

Dan Kois: Yes, and while the emotional abuse has slowed (not stopped!!!) the workaholism and absence seem to continue apace!

Lady… the fact that you require being constantly high in order to tolerate life with your husband is not the mark of a match made in heaven!

Danny M. Lavery: yeah and “less frequent/less intense” emotional abuse is a far cry from real safety, real peace, and real healing

I want to be easy on her because it seems like she’s only slowly been able to acknowledge how much she’s suffered

so I don’t mean to sound dismissive or flip

but I really agree that this letter is full of barely-contained rage and aversion

Dan Kois: for example: She’s right that under these circumstances her daily pot use is not really his beeswax, but it is not healthy that a significant reason she wants to hide it from him is to avoid his temper.

Danny M. Lavery: and it seems pretty obvious that being high all the time (and having a secret he doesn’t know about) is what enables her to feel detached and non-furious when they watch movies together


Dan Kois: yes, exactly.

Danny M. Lavery: that bit about “I’m done letting fear of his judgment or temper dictate my actions” is only half-right, I think

be MORE done! dream bigger! get high and leave him!

Dan Kois: Be all the way done!

Danny M. Lavery: not necessarily at the same time of course, especially if you’re worried about your safety when you leave

Dan Kois: That might be a great day to lay off, yes

And yes, I too don’t want to be flip. She’s gone through a lot. But she didn’t even give any of the half-assed transparent bullshit testimonials that spouses like to give in situations like this. No “he’s actually a great guy,” or “we’ve been through so much,” or “I’ve invested a lot in this relationship.” There is nothing tying you to that couch in that house with that guy.

Danny M. Lavery: Exactly

I think it has more to do with inertia / some justified fear of his temper / a sense that the 30 years are worth seeing through just as a sunken cost

but you are not happy with him - not even a little bit - and his apology does not make the last 30 years disappear

you can appreciate his apology and still leave

Dan Kois: [gavel emoji]

I will say that daily pot smoking does not often mix with overcoming inertia and finally doing the difficult thing.

She’s stuck in a rut and getting out of it is not going to be easy, so she might consider spending her evenings sober and looking at apartments online

Danny M. Lavery: yeah I tend to feel fine about the idea of someone smoking weed every day, but in a case like this one where it seems pretty obviously a band-aid fix to a really serious problem, then it’s worth setting it aside for a day or two and paying attention to what you’re trying to avoid

Dan Kois: and think how much more fun you’ll have packing a bowl in your new apartment than sneaking a vape in the kitchen!

Danny M. Lavery: yes! if it’s just a pleasurable activity that refreshes you and makes dealing with stress easier, you’ll hopefully feel more freedom around it – if it’s the thing you need to get you through an awful marriage, it’s just not going to bring you the same enjoyment

Now available in your podcast player: the audiobook edition of Danny M. Lavery’s latest book, Something That May Shock and Discredit YouGet it from Slate