Speaking of emotionally abusive wives (see yesterday’s post), Emily Yoffe shared a letter from a man asking the advice of Dear Prudence:
About a year ago, my wife cut meat from her diet entirely and has since become completely vegan. I fully support her dietary choices, but I don’t share them and I am beginning to resent the way in which her choices are becoming my choices. She complains bitterly when I cook meat at home and increasingly passes judgment on my diet and even choice of clothing. (Leather is taboo.) I love her dearly, but I’m feeling cornered, persistently nagged, and incredibly resentful. I find myself “acting out”; for example ordering tartare or massive steaks at restaurants, and increasingly we eat apart so that I don’t have to hear the negative comments or put up with the schoolgirl behavior (hissing between the teeth, goggle eyes, gagging, etc.). I’ve tried talking it out but am not getting through to her and am seriously contemplating divorce because my home life has grown so unbearable. I struggle to understand how one issue has taken us from two decades of happiness to utter misery. Is the situation salvageable? Am I insane to put steak over love?
An astonishing story. Allow me a couple of observations.
First, marriage is a contract. It sustains itself on the consistent performance of routines. When one spouse abrogates the contract unilaterally, the marriage is pretty much over. One hopes, with Yoffe, that this woman can be brought to see the error of her ways, but, one does not have too much hope.
Second, Yoffe suggests that there might be an underlying issue. That’s a nice way of saying that this woman might have an undiagnosed medical condition. Without knowing anything more about her situation and without knowing anything about medicine, I would suggest that she consult with a physician to see if she is not physically ill.
When someone changes her behavior radically, without provocation, it’s time to see whether the underlying issue is an illness.
Otherwise, her veganism might reflect something like a religious conversion experience. More prosaically, it might signal something as banal as falling in love with someone who is a vegan. For all I know she is trying to save her marriage by turning her lover into the man she has recently fallen in love with. For all we know, there may be method to the madness.
Before the psychological explanation, she ought to try to rule out illness.