My 60 year-old husband wants to buy a motorcycle and I am dead set against it. He started making noises about this a couple years ago and I ignored him but recently he said he would be buying one in the spring. We argued – it was bad – and we haven’t spoken for two days. Motorcycles are dangerous and I told him he is an idiot for wanting one and I’m not interested in nursing an invalid when he crashes. Any advice?
I can’t for the life of me imagine why your husband continues pushing for this new toy despite your loving and concerned approach to discussing it with him.
When I emailed you, you told me he hasn’t ridden a motorcycle since he was a teenager. Your children are both grown and you think your husband is showing signs of what you labeled “the dreaded mid-life crisis” but which I believe is neither something to be dreaded nor a crisis. See here for a longer look on that subject: Is a Mid-life Crisis Inevitable?
Let’s talk about the reason you think you wrote me (and not the actual reason) first: the donorcycle, also known as a motorcycle.
Although I abhor your method, I agree with you this is a very dangerous decision. Even for expert riders, tooling around on a Chopper can be a dicey proposition because motorcycle riders are 26 times more likely to be injured in an accident than a car passenger.
For guys like your husband, the risks are exponentially larger.
This is actually a thing. Men of a certain age who are experiencing some of the common changes and big thoughts that come with getting older sometimes want to explore an activity that seems exciting, different, youthful, and just plain fun. They picture Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda and think, “Hey, that could be me! I’ll buy a motorcycle!”
The problem is, these weekend warriors are wrecking at a phenomenal rate. Please show your husband this study: Motorcycle Crashes.
Inexperience, reduced vision and reaction time, and a propensity for purchasing larger bikes which roll over more easily are just a few of the reasons older riders suffer more serious injuries (including death, which is a very serious injury indeed) than their younger counterparts.
In fact, younger riders are seeing a decline in injury and fatality rates, while riders over 40 and especially over 60 are scattering their ashes all over the road before the family can get them to the crematorium.
Talk to your husband. Show him the statistics. Rather than yelling at him or stoning him with the deafening silence of your displeasure, tell him you love him and you don’t want him to get hurt or worse.
Remind him that his children still need a father, even if they are adults now. Plead with him not to do this and explore other activities he could engage in that are more safe, like knife-juggling or BASE jumping.*
This is how I convinced Mr. Patience and Understanding to sell the motorcycle he owned when we met. I like to think not only am I extremely persuasive, but also that he valued his life much more when I came on the scene and didn’t want to risk losing it. I gave him his special purpose!**
Now let’s talk about the real reason you wrote to me. Worried Wife, your marriage is in trouble. Here’s what I gleaned from our talk:
1. You are angry that he is considering leaving his job after over 20 years and starting his own business: something he has dreamed of for years. You, of course, do not work.
2. Now that the kids are gone, you admit you have little in common and you don’t often do things together.
3. You also admit your main concern is not that he die in a wreck but that he become severely injured and therefore dependent upon you. God forbid one of you become totally dependent upon the other, hmmm?
Whew. If I were your husband I’d be less concerned about wiping out and losing my life than I would be going to bed with you each night. Does he sleep with one eye open and a knife under the pillow?
Perhaps he sees the motorcycle as a way to tempt fate: an easy method by which to commit suicide via actuarial tables instead of pulling the trigger on the gun I picture him fondling each day in his office.
I don’t mean to blame you entirely because a marriage failing as spectacularly as yours has two partners, each of whom should shoulder their fair share of the blame. Unfortunately, I only spoke with you so I cannot judge what role he might be playing in your silent little war.
If I were your husband, I would see myself trapped in a marriage with an bitchy shrew who has lived off my hard work for decades and who refuses to support me in my dream of starting my own business because she fears I’ll make less money. I’d look around during one of your silent treatments at everything I provided to you and think, “how dare she tell me what to do?”
If you truly love your husband, and I have serious doubts about that, you need to start a conversation about what is happening in your marriage. Revisit why you fell in love in the first place, pinpoint where you think things might have started to go wrong, ask him what he might want out of his career and from you (imagine that; he has needs too!) and how you can spend time together getting to know each other again.
See a marriage counselor but don’t expect a miracle without a lot of hard work from you both. Somewhere along the way you lost each other; whether or not you can find your love again remains to be seen but your current paradigm of nagging, bossiness, anger and silence is not the path that will lead you there.
If all else fails and he insists on buying a motorcycle and neither of you wish to part ways, purchase additional life insurance and pray for a skid that will put both of you out of your misery.
* Those two activities are in fact safer than riding a motorcycle.
** Reference from “The Jerk.” Did you get it?