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Wife won't share "our" car. Is she being unfair?

Tagged as: Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (11 August 2017) 11 Answers - (Newest, 14 August 2017)
A male United States age 41-50, anonymous writes:

My wife doesn't work and hasn't for years despite us not having any kids. She quit her last job with my blessings. It was worth it to me just to not have to listen to her complain about it and I make a decent income such that she doesn't have to work. I didn't intend for it to be a many years long hiatus from her working but my career has taken off and so I don't pressure her too much although I don't feel I ever signed off on her taking early retirement at age 40.

Whenever I bought a new car I always let her drive it. I wanted her to be safe and not have to worry about breaking down somewhere. I drove the older car in exchange. Well, we have come to a point where my car is acting up. It has trouble starting in the mornings, for example. In the next couple months I will buy a new one because it is about time.

Meanwhile, she is driving our much newer car. I can take my car when there is time to spare (it usually needs to warm up a while but then works fine) but recently I have a lot of early morning meetings at work and the unpredictability of my car has led me to be late to some.

Tonight I told her that on days when I have important meetings (about 3 days per week) I'd like to either take the newer car or else have her drop me off at work. She balked at both. She said that I can't take the car because she has stuff to do. (Mind you, she doesn't work!) She also said she doesn't like to drop me off because that means she will have to pick me up and the time I need to be picked up is variable and unpredictable. (This is true.)

I told her that I understood she has errands to run and so on but I HAVE TO GET TO WORK ON TIME. So I either need the car or I need her to take me! As for her errands... she can take my car if she has to (it does work despite being finnicky) or take an Uber or... to some extent I don't really care. I don't think she really has anything that important going on such that she can't cater to me for a month or two until we buy a new car.

I really think she is being selfish on this. It is my salary that pays for EVERYTHING. It is my salary that paid for BOTH cars. I am asking for her to take me to work and pick me up OR let me use MY OWN car. I can't afford to be late to work because my car takes an extra 20 minutes to warm up some mornings. She has ALL DAY to deal with it as far as I am concerned.

I am about to put my foot down and tell her that I will be driving my own car every day until we buy a new one, but I also know - as a husband - that that might just lead to more bad feelings. How do I convince her that she is really being unfair to me?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (14 August 2017):

The thing is you are the only one working. The working person gets the best car. If she complains and she will ask her how much she likes to have a roof over her her head and food to eat. Tell her keeping your job means you must be able to get there on time. If she wants a better car right now she is always welcome to get a job and pay for it. Since you need to bring in the money you get the car. Then just take the car it is yours you know.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (12 August 2017):

Honeypie agony auntI agree with Auntie Cindy who suggested that IF she wants the car for the day, SHE can get up WITH you and take you to work and pick you up after work UNTIL the other car is fixed or replaced.

And I also agree with YouWish that you NEED to have a chat with her. She (your wife) is being unreasonable. If she is staying home she doesn't NEED to have the car that WORKS every day. NOR does she NEED the newest car either.

The fact that she can't seem to grasp that you NEED to be at work ON time for these meeting and thus need the car it's a little beyond me.

At the moment we are a one car family. Which means if I during the day NEED/WANT the car then I GET my lovely ass out of bed WITH my husband, drive him to work and pick him up when he needs to be picked up. Yes, it a 20-minute drive so no big deal really but that is how it works. when I don't need the car, I don't HAVE a vehicle during the day. So what? Right now THAT is how things are.

You two need to WORK together! She needs to realize that if she WANTS a car you can not use or touch - then she needs to go out and EARN the money for one.

Sorry, OP you have spoiled her, that is true, but that doesn't mean she has to act like a cow over this issue. It's a simple fix. It's all about compromising.

You take the broken one to the mechanic and WHILE it's getting fixed, you two work out a plan that can work for you both with the ONE vehicle you have.

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A female reader, YouWish United States + , writes (12 August 2017):

YouWish agony auntPS, if you need an alternative solution to simply saying "I'm using the new car", since I know how marital politics gets, and you seem like a nice person, here's what to say as an alternative:

"Throughout our entire marriage, whenever we have gotten a new car, I've given it to you to drive and drove our older car. I've done it because I care for your safety, and it makes me happy that you are driving in comfort. All these years, I've been operating under the belief that you feel the same for me, and that if I were in need, you'd want me likewise to be safe, and that you'd want the best for me as I have for you.

By being selfish with the good working car, you've shown me that I was wrong in my philosophy when it comes to our family cars. So here's what is going to happen: When we replace the old car in a couple of months, *I* will be the driver of the new car. Not you. When your car gets old, you need to deal with it. When it breaks down, you need to deal with it. I will drive the new car, and every new car we get for the duration of this marriage."

That sort of selfishness she's showing really burns me.

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A female reader, YouWish United States + , writes (12 August 2017):

YouWish agony auntIf the car belongs to both of you, and your name is on the title, then why are you ASKING her if you can take the car?? You've been unselfish in giving her the good car to drive, and I applaud that. I have a husband like yours, and you are truly a great guy to consider your wife like that.

But you have pressing transportation needs. Unless she can give you an itinerary of what she needs to do, you SHOULD take the car, or she should get up in the morning and take you to work. In your wife's shoes, I'd be BEGGING my husband to take the better car because I don't want to hear of him stalling out on the road (plus, I usually handle the car repairs and maintenance in our household anyways).

Just look at her and tell her you're taking it until you replace the older car. One thing I can tell you from personal experience...I love my husband very much, but we have a huge discrepancy over how we each treat our cars. My husband treats his like a trash bin, where it's cluttered and there are drink cans and he has eaten breakfast bars in it, and I am meticulous in washing mine. If you and she are like that with your vehicles, don't bring your messy habits with you when you drive it! I live in a place where in the winter, the snow and ice is horrendous (especially the black ice, when it gets -40 degrees out, the car exhaust freezes on the road). We switch vehicles because mine's a 4wd and powers through EVERYTHING (I've pulled a Honda Fit out of a snowbank), and he has a much longer commute than I do.

She is being unfair and territorial. That happens a lot with marriage in a two-car family. You need to press the issue. I know that you'd rather persuade her that it's the right thing to do, but sometimes, you have to put your foot down. Don't ask her what she has to do. Don't ask her why she won't. Tell her that you need reliable transportation when you have meetings, and that car is it until you replace the one that's acting up.

One thing though -- why haven't you repaired the one that's acting up?? Why is it acting up??

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A female reader, Caring Aunty A Australia +, writes (12 August 2017):

Caring Aunty A agony auntYes she is being utterly selfish, unfair, not supportive, ungrateful and inconsiderate to the hand that feeds her. Dare I say you've spoiled her to this the lap of luxury dear husband? Now when you need her help as a couple, she flakes on you. Such is the pity you care for her safety to drive a reliable car yet she'd rather see you late for work than her be inconvenienced.

So I'll make this real simple; she needs to drive you to work in the morning and due to variable finishing hours, you make your way home. Either by public transport where she'll go pick you up or other to your front door.

Whatever her errands it's good to see she's busy doing something during the day, so please don't go minimizing her activities as that'll surely cause more bad feelings... Yet I'm positive they can be reorganised as necessary for those 3 days that you require.

Take Care - CAA

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (11 August 2017):

By the way, don't throw it in her face that she's not working. Stay on one topic at a time when you're having a disagreement. It makes for better communication. IF she needs to work, then discuss that as a separate conversation. Don't go there if you told her she doesn't have to work. Looking for soft-spots is fighting dirty!

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (11 August 2017):

For the sake of keeping the peace and compromise; arrange to carpool with a co-worker. Call an Uber or Lyft. Go green and use public-transportation. Why is this an issue exactly?

Get a motorcycle! Just kidding!

I suggest you put the other car in the shop for the time being. I'm not sure why you wouldn't have the car serviced if it's causing so much inconvenience and commotion?

Both cars belong to both of you. If you've spoiled your wife, it is time that you modify her behavior, and remind her that as a married-couple you share everything.

There is no justifiable reason she can't drop you off at work in the morning, considering you're breadwinner and have provided her with luxuries and leisure-time; and all the benefits she presently has no problem taking advantage of.

Grow a pair, and just take the car!!! You're a grown-man and do not need permission. If you had just taken the other car in for service, you would have gotten a loaner until it was fixed.

It seems contradictory that you earn enough money your wife doesn't have to work; but you can't pay the cost of car repairs. Even if you plan on buying a new one, getting to work is a priority. Is it not?

You and your wife are having a power-struggle. It's not about the cars. It's who's boss. She forfeited some of her power by becoming a dependent.

She decided to give-up contributing to the household income; but she's exercising equal-say within the marriage. It is true, she does need the car to run errands and get around throughout the day for whatever reasons. That's what most people use the less-expensive or older second-car for.

Need I remind you. That wasn't the deal, now you want to change routine. She always drove the newer one. Giving her the one that could breakdown and leave her stranded doesn't go over well. Having no mechanical-skills leaves vulnerable, and stranded. She'd be in a lurch; if that damned thing putters-out on her on the highway, or a busy main street.

Two years ago, my boyfriend bought me a Lexus for my birthday. My bought-and paid-for, yet pristine, 2007 BMW is my car for daily-use. He also uses it; taking it on his rounds to construction-sites, and gets it all dirty. I'm supposed feel that's okay; because he brought me an overpriced gaudy car I told him I never wanted anyway. We argued about it. I bitched, until he now pays for the servicing and detailing of my baby. Now we're cool. I had to put my foot down. Same as you do, bro. He's the rich guy. I'm not! I still have my rights, and sense of pride! Don't go trashing around in my vehicle!

One difference, he can take the car whenever he pleases; I can use any car out of three he owns whenever I like. I just didn't like the idea that he was dogging the car I bought and paid for with my hard-earned money. It was principle, and my personal pride. Not that I'm ungrateful. Far from it.

She wants to look like the prestigious home-maker who drives a nice car when shopping or lunching with her friends. Driving a beat-up old car doesn't present a good image for her successful husband. It also sends her envious friends a message that maybe you're not doing so well after-all. She still has an image to maintain. She doesn't want anyone to wonder why isn't she working, if she has to drive an older car.

You politely asked and was denied access to your own property. Leave her the keys to the older car, and drive the newer one to work. Better yet! Get that other car fixed.

She might get stranded somewhere, and that would be unsafe. I think it is unfair of you to know the car has repair issues; and would still expect her to use it in it's present broken-conditon. If you don't want to use it, why should she?

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A male reader, Riot2017 Mexico +, writes (11 August 2017):

Listen. If you paid for both cars, and the cars have your name on them, then you can use it.

My advice, just take the car. Tell her that you are going to be using the car for the next 2 months, it's going to be temporary. You need to remind her that you are the bread winner in the house, and if you are late to your meetings, both's finances will suffer to some extent.

If she doesn't wants to drive to lend you the newer car, then she should drive you to work every day for the next two months, and pick you up every day , at whatever hour you have to leave.

Yes, this will break her busy schedule, but it's going to be only for two months.

If she refuses to do any of both, you need, like you mentioned, put your foot down. If she does not understand with logic, then you can use your authority as the bread winner and rightful owner of the car to do as you please with that car.

Now, if none of the above is possible because she makes a tantrum about using your old car, you can use UBER the whole 2 months (yes, it's going to be pricey). However, when you get your next NEW car, DON'T GIVE HER THAT CAR AND DON'T ALLOW HER TO USE IT.

If you give her the NEW car, you are just rewarding her bad conduct (not giving you a ride or lending the working car), so it's time for you to stop enabling her to get away with that kind of conduct.

Now, the biggest issue here is: how is your relationship with her? I honestly think that this is just the tip of the iceberg of the kind of problems you have with her.

For me, a wife that does not allows his husband use his own car just because she doesn't want to wait 20 minutes for the car to warm up, it's a BIG RED FLAG.

Any normal wife would lend his husband HER OWN CAR to his spouse under these kind of situations.

Unlike a toothbrush, a car is something that you can share without problems.

Have you guys considered going to couples therapy? Does she loves you at all?

It seems that you let her get away with anything she wants to do, which is not a good thing.

You need to learn to set healthy limits and boundaries, and everything in your post indicates me that there is a lack of limits and boundaries in your relationship. One therapist can help you both improve.

Finally, it's better to get her out of her comfort zone and get her angry at you, than getting late to work and risking loosing your job.

I wish you the best luck!

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A male reader, N91 United Kingdom + , writes (11 August 2017):

N91 agony auntYou paid for it, therefore it is your car.

I think she would be complaining a lot more if you lost your job and couldn't pay for the nice car anymore and she would have to get off her ass and get another job.

I'd tell her straight up, I'm taking the car. Your job is paying for her lifestyle.

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (11 August 2017):

CindyCares agony aunt You could meet halfway - she takes you to work in time every morning, and you make it back home on your own according to your variable and unpredictable times, either by getting a ride from some colleague or using public transportation or getting a cab.

I know that's not ideal for you, but- do you want to be right or do you want to get along ? This way , you'd be sure that you reach work on time, which is your priority, and she would have the car the rest of the day to do her errands according to her schedule. Win-win.

I am pretty sure you'll get a lot of support from other posters , and your wife will get a lot of criticism, but I confess that I can ALSO see where she is coming from, not only you.

I think she resents the assumption that just because she does not bring home a monetary wage, her time is not important, her engagements are not important, her LIFE us not important. So she stays at home ( with your consent and encouragement ) ... therefore whatever she needs or wants to do counts diddly squat ? Why ? I suppose she will contribute to the household not with a monthly wage but by cooking, doing chores, running errands- that's HER job. But even if I am wrong and you have her living in the lap of luxury , attended and fawned over by a full domestic staff, with nothing else than a socialite 's committments to respect,... a benefit lunch here, an art gallery inauguration there..- THAT would be the life that you have chosen together for her to do , and that comes with demands that are important to HER, and that she needs to respect.

It's not that only well paid CEOs and neurosurgeons have the right to have a life and do stuff according to what works best for them. One can be jobless and pennyless and still have things they really care about doing, and doing in time !

Now, OF COURSE your wife could and should be more flexible and helpful , for a couple of months- no debate. But I suspect that what makes her so stubborn and uncooperative is this not- so-unspoken assumption that , since you are the one who brings home the bacon... SHE is most naturally the one who should be arsed messing up her schedule and shouldering all the inconveniences.

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A female reader, Aunty BimBim Australia + , writes (11 August 2017):

Aunty BimBim agony auntDoesn't sound like your wife will be convinced of anything she doesn't want to be convinced of.

So, just take the car, if she complains tell her to get a job and buy her own car.

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