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Dear Sito,

While my husband was away on a business trip I dented his prized ‘leisure’ car. My husband is a wonderful and patient man but when it comes to his car – he is a different person. My husband has three cars, one for business, one for me, and one special automobile for pleasure. This car he does not allow anyone to touch – no less drive. The truth is I don’t mind – because to me a car is a car. 

However, one morning while he was away on a trip, my car did not start and I needed to go to the local market to buy groceries. After thinking it over, I decided that I would drive his leisure car since the market was only a couple blocks away. Sure enough, the car skidded and the bumper was badly dented. 

Before my husband returned from his trip, I was able to replace the bumper – and the car looks like new. It really is impossible for anyone to know that the car  was  involved in an accident.

My question is – do I tell my husband what happened? I really want to – but I’m afraid of his reaction. He really is obsessed with his car. Even though the car is fine now, I’m concerned that he will lose trust in me because I drove his prized possession, which is essentially off limits. On one hand I’m thinking, why should I get him upset if it is totally unnecessary? As the saying goes, “What you don’tknow won’t hurt you.” On the other hand, how trustworthy am I if I keep this accidenta secret?

Car Crazy

Dear Car Crazy,

Your dilemma doesn’t seem to me to be about honesty or trustworthiness, but rather your fear of your husband’s anger, which is an even bigger issue than denting a prized possession. While you say your husband is a wonderful and patient man, it seems he has excluded you by making a possession off limits to you, his life partner. Would he tolerate it if you made the same claim? Would he accept if you purchased a car and said to him, “This is for my exclusive enjoyment? Under no circumstances are you to use it”? 

The car accident was unfortunate. Your fear about your husband’s reaction if you tell him is troubling. You should always feel that your husband will be understanding no matter what the circumstance, and he’ll say, “Don’t worry honey. As long as you are o.k., I’m o.k.”   In the spirit of full disclosure, you should tell him in a matter of fact way that you had an emergency, borrowed the car, had an accident, but fixed it. Tell him you understand that this is upsetting to him. If he is as patient and understanding as you say he is, then he will discuss it with you calmly. Even if he does get angry, it will give the two of you an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion about possessions, keeping things off limit to you as his partner, and perhaps his disappointment that you haven’t respected his wishes.

All the best, Sito

Dear Sito,

I just found out that my maid is stealing from me and I’m unsure what to do. The problem is that this is the best maid I’ve had in years. I went through so many incompetent housekeepers prior to hiring my present one. Just thinking of going through the hiring process and then the teaching process gives me nightmares.

The truth is that if this had not occurred and she told me she wanted to quit, I would have gladly given her a raise to persuade her to stay.  And the raise that I would have offered would have been much more than the amount of money that she is stealing.

Of course, I’m very disappointed about the situation, but it really is not a huge amount of money that she is taking. I think if I confront her she will just deny it and quit. 

Do you have any suggestions on how I can handle this without having to fire her or have her quit on me?

Need to Come Clean 

Dear Need to Come Clean,

Actually, no. There is no way to justify keeping a thief in your home. While I understand your dependence on her and your rationalization that “it really is not a huge amount of money that she is taking,” the fact that she is stealing is not about the value of what she has taken but rather it’s about the lack of honesty and trust. You need to examine the character of a person who helps herself to the cash or belongings of someone they work for. Can you trust her in your kitchen with the many kashrutstandards we have? Do you trust her judgment when leaving her with your children? Do you trust that she will not become bolder and steal more valuable things in the future?

While you say that the process of hiring a new housekeeper would be a nightmare, living with a thief in my house would give me many sleepless nights. I, personally, would be constantly counting my silver, and wondering where I left my money or jewelry. The anxiety would be too much for me to bear. Firing her and replacing herwill not be easy, but in the long run you will have purged your home of a person who does not respect you or the values of honesty and loyalty.

 All the best, Sito