Feeling Guilty for Playing the “Husband” Card

Sometimes I tell the various sellers of things, who are always coming to my gate to sell me things, that I have to wait and ask my husband, who has the money. Of course this is not the sort of marriage Tim and I have, but it’s a handy and culturally appropriate way to graciously extricate myself from these situations.

(Just so you know, we are certainly supporting the local economy in various ways–we’ve hired a carpenter to build various pieces of furniture for us, which is the best way to buy furniture here–but we can’t buy everything that everyone wants to sell us. Being a white person definitely marks you as Someone to Sell Things To. A young man selling beautiful wood carvings told me quite explicitly that his passion is ministering to prisoners, but that he supports himself by selling things to White People.”)

And here we have a picture of me stationed at the dining room table, and a picture of the view from said table.

I don’t know what the point of telling you this is, except that it is hard to know what the Just Thing to Do is. I know that the person selling me the carved wooden things needs money, but I can neither fill my home with endless Wooden Things nor spend all my money on buying those Wooden Things. This is the thing: I hunger and thirst to do justly, but it’s exceedingly difficult to know what the Just Thing is.

In the meantime, I smile, shake hands, ask how are you? and try to be as kind as I possibly can, because kindness always helps.

(And, if all else fails, I can just play the ‘husband’ card.)

5 thoughts on “Feeling Guilty for Playing the “Husband” Card

  1. How difficult to make such decisions! How long will you be staying? Are you or your husband salaried during this time? If you don’t already tithe to your church, could you tithe (a tenth is completely arbitrary as far as I am concerned) or figure out some way to not undergo this endless struggle? (This from someone who does not have a budget, but is generally able to pay bills on the month they are due.) As Lynn Davidmann wrote, “from the heard of [her] laptop,” I struggle daily with the same sort of decisions online and in the mail, but I am not turning another individual down face-to-face. “From the heart of my laptop” to yours, I hope you will be able to figure something out that makes you feel more settled despite the inequities you face daily.

  2. Hi Rachel,

    In case you are interested in the article (which is not specifically relevant to your case, but in a volume which is itself a classic) Lynn Davidman’s chapter 2, “From the Heart of My Laptop: Personal Passion and Research on Violence against Women,” is published in Spickard, Jim, J. Shawn Landres, and Meredith B. McGuire, Eds. *Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping the Ethnography of Religion,* 2002.

    I doubt this citation is of interest to most readers, so no need to post for all unless you disagree. I promise not to be offended 🙂

  3. I hear you. I’ve had to play the “pero es que no cabrá en mi maleta, pues…” card more than a few times. In fact the first time I wanted to take a street kid home home with me (you remember “Lorito”). It’s never easy.

    1. On a similar note, I once told someone raising support that we had a number of people we were already supporting and could not take on another regular commitment at the time. The person started to suggest that perhaps I could drop one of those others to take them on. I should have told her “Pero yo no tengo espacio en mi cartera para todos ustedes.” That would have stopped her for sure, because I don’t think she spoke a lick of Spanish.

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