Problem: I Think My Wife Is Annoyed That I Went to Paris Without Her

Our advice columnist to the rescue

Q: I am a not-so-young father, husband, and college dropout who had never learned a foreign language. Recently I decided to learn French, and I went to Paris and Geneva, alone, for a brief period of study. But I felt guilty. I felt like I was cheating on my wife with Europe by not taking her with me. When we talked about this, she got a weird look on her face and kept saying things like “I’m not angry” and “It’s fine.” But her face said it was not fine. What can I say to her to repair this breach of trust?

—T.N.C.
New York, N.Y.


Dear T.N.C.,

You’re quite a man, to have an affair with a whole continent. From what I hear, Iceland alone would be a handful, particularly the flight attendants.

Here are a number of possible strategies:

1. Stress the negative. Europe is the cradle of war, nationalism, racism, imperialism, and xenophobia. Even today, in reaction to a bit of economic distress, large numbers of Europeans are seeking answers in fascism. Ask your wife whether she likes fascists. She will, I imagine, say no (if she says yes, we have a different set of problems), so you can tell her you’ve spared her exposure to some very unpleasant people, because you love her.

2. Emphasize the Geneva portion of the trip, and downplay Paris. Actually, stop mentioning Paris altogether. You might even want to imply that you spent most of your time in Brussels.

3. Tell her you were afraid she might have found pork in her moose lasagna, or come into contact with horse meat. A chivalrous husband protects his wife from strange meats. And Europe is filled with strange meats.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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