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Carolyn Hax: Husband sleeps in a backyard tent after spouse ‘quit having sex’

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: A few years ago, I quit having sex with my husband. For a while, he slept on the couch, but now he’s taken to sleeping in a tent in the backyard — even in the dead of winter! It’s so embarrassing. I’ve begged him to sleep inside, but he says he likes sleeping in the fresh air. I’m sure all our neighbors are talking about how he’s sleeping like a cave man. How can I make him come to his senses and sleep like a human being?

It’s Just Tacky: Why? You’re good with icing him out, just not with anyone knowing it?

Try it this way: You have what you want, and he has what he wants. Your neighbors, assuming they even care, have something to titillate them for about five minutes, if that.

The meaningless pains and nuisances set in motion by fears that something was “tacky” or “embarrassing” or “sure” to be gossiped about would fill enough tents end-to-end to wrap the globe like a nylon mummy.

So give it a rest, for that reason alone.

And remember that you, it seems unilaterally, are the one who cut off a supply of physical affection that many regard as emotionally sustaining. So while halves of couples always have that prerogative — bodily autonomy is paramount — you were able to do this with a peaceable level of acceptance from your husband.

To now be yammering at him for the way he chose to accept it? Don’t even try to pass that off as okay.

· “Tacky”? I really, really hope that was a troll.

· Does he take snacks in there? Watch movies on a laptop or iPad? How big of a tent are we talking about? This sounds like a DREAM situation, and the rest of my afternoon will be spent on tent research.

Dear Carolyn: Several years ago, to my complete surprise, my ex called off our wedding. Despite acting as if he wanted to marry me and planning a sweet proposal, he didn’t want to do it. He only proposed because he thought he’d lose me and our relationship, which he did anyway.

During the breakup, he promised several times to pay me back lost expenses. He never did. It was a few thousand dollars. Whenever he’s a topic of conversation with friends, I’m very direct that he still owes me money, which I’m sure has gotten back to him.

After more than a decade of no contact, he apologized via email. I immediately wrote back, reminding him of his promise and how much he still owes me. I didn’t calculate interest or inflation, but I could have. My mother and husband are a little taken aback, but I feel entitled, and his apology feels very empty without my money. Your thoughts?

— I Still Want My Money

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I Still Want My Money: I’m not taken aback, if that’s what you’re asking. He does owe you money, and you absolutely have standing to ask for it back, even now.

I say that while also believing that a few thousand dollars is a very low price for the life-salvaging information you received: that he was the wrong guy. And you received this crucial intel right before its emotional and actual cost to you jumped significantly. If you don’t receive the money from him now, you might want to write it off for good as an investment in your own quality of life.

But, to be clear, there’s still nothing wrong with calling in a debt he repeatedly promised to pay. Complaining to others, though? Not cool.

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