Relationship Advice

Peacekeeping Mission

trim looking middle-aged man

I am a physician in my 50s who recently purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle without my wife's permission. She is adamantly opposed to me riding it and fears I may be killed or badly injured.

I am the sole provider of my household, which includes my wife and my three kids in their 20s. My wife has given me an ultimatum: it is she or the bike. If the bike does not go, she will. Is this fair?

I always dreamed of having a motorcycle, and it gives me great pleasure when I am riding. I am a very safe driver and drive defensively. Should I sell the bike and make my wife happy, or keep it and continue to enjoy riding?

I love my wife and do not want to lose her, but I feel I must stand my ground and keep what I think I deserve. Is this selfish of me?


Ken, you gave your wife a fait accompli, and the essence of the done deal is this: don't ask permission, ask for forgiveness.

We can take your side and accept this as your dream, a reward for those nights you stayed up late studying organic chemistry. We can acknowledge your role as the sole provider for your family. But the side that tips away from you and toward her is you didn't talk to her first. That makes us give her a little more leeway.

Did you know in advance she would say no? Are the two of you so disconnected she didn't know this was your dream? Have you lived too long in a world where people acquiesce because you have two letters and a dot in front of your name?

How would you answer those questions?

Her best argument is this. "I love you so much I think the fates, the gods, will take you away from me. I fear for you." Can you give her that? Are you in love and close enough to ask, Are you afraid I am trying to Harley away from you? Can you be honest enough to tell her you are, if that is part of this?

What kind of vehicle would you want her to drive? Probably one with front and side airbags and a high safety rating. Many of us want our loved ones in the vehicle which most closely resembles a tank. And you want to drive a vehicle which loses any battle between itself and a vehicle, dog or deer.

Her dream of the future involves grandchildren, not a husband who is an organ donor. If she loves you, she thinks, "I want him as many days and as many hours as I can possibly have him."

Has she ever threatened divorce for anything in the past? Or is it simply that you scared the wits out of her, and she pulled out the big guns. She went from zero to nuke in an instant and put her finger on the red button. "I will destroy the world as you know it." Is that the only way she could tell you just how great her fears are?

Trying to understand her fears and feelings may lead to clarity. Perhaps it will allow you to bask in the warmth of her love for you and know just how great that love is. Perhaps you'll lose money if you take the bike back, but think what you might get in return.

But it may not turn out that way. It could expose a permanent fissure in your relationship. You two have to talk and determine what this conflict really represents.

Wayne & Tamara

Wow! Thanks so much for your time and honest opinion. I certainly love her more than the bike. You are right. I would not want her riding a Harley to work. I am going to sell the bike and appreciate the love she has for me.



I've been in a wonderful relationship with my boyfriend for two years. We own a home together and life is great--except since I met him he's gained 20 pounds. He was never svelte to begin with, and he's not tall so every pound shows.

I knew his weight fluctuated when I met him. Early in our relationship he showed me photos of himself 20 pounds heavier than he is now. At that time I said I would not let him get there again. I encouraged him to lose weight, gently and not so gently, but nothing worked.

He starts a diet then stops. He joined my gym but only went three times in four months. I even used the health angle and sent him to a doctor. The doctor didn't take vital signs, then told him he looked fine and said, "Come back in two years." My plan backfired!

My boyfriend says the more I mention it, the less likely he is to act. So I try to suffer in silence, which is not working very well for either of us! What, if anything, can I do, or am I doomed to accept this?


Jackie, when we receive a letter from a person who wants to change someone else, we always go to the obvious. If we could tell you how to change them, we could tell them how to change you. But somehow that logic seems to escape the letter writer.

In O. Henry's famous story, The Gift of The Magi, a young woman sells her luxurious auburn hair to buy her husband a platinum fob for his watch. In an equally selfless act, her husband sells his watch to buy his wife a set of tortoiseshell combs for her hair.

A modern audience may find the story contrived, but it contains a truth. In love we accept the other person as they are. In love we seek to give the other what they want.

The story you told us is different. Your story is, I push and he resists. In our experience the person who continues a relationship, even though they are unsatisfied, is the same person who will later initiate a divorce because they failed to get what they wanted.

O. Henry might tell you that your tale needs editing before it can be published as a love story. In the revised version, you accept him as he is and out of love he spontaneously gives you what you want.

Wayne & Tamara