The title summarizes the issue quite well: I'm arachnophobic and my wife wants a pet spider.
She knows I'm terrified by all kinds of bugs, and she wants to buy it anyway. I know phobias are not good... But, hey! I didn't choose to be afraid of such things: I've been phobic for as long as I can remember, and haven't had any success dealing with it: therapy, counselling, support from friends... In the face of a spider, I simply freeze in panic, fighting an urge to run as fast as my legs can.
My wife is very aware about my phobia: I've talked about it with her, and (I thought) I had made clear that under no circumstance I'd tolerate a spider in my home. She told me: "instead of being terrified, why don't you just face your fear?" The intention seems noble, but it's a weak justification, given that it was said after the main intention.
Two days ago, when I arrived, she told me: "can we go to a pet store?". I told her: "sure; why", and she answered: "just to get a little animal"... It took me a second to realize what she meant, and I literally began to shake and to ask (to beg) "No! Please, don't! Not that thing!". She simply and plainly told me: "Take me there or I'll go anyway. You don't have to see it, it will be enclosed".
She bought the spider (a tarantula), despite me begging her not to. She's studying a second career, and right now she's taking a course about arachnids. She planned to buy a spider with a classmate, and the original plan was for the classmate to keep it; however, my wife changed her mind and chose to keep the spider.
I'm terrified and angry. I feel ignored. I simply want to run.
As I see it right now, I have three alternatives:
- Cope with the thing: The spider stays, I fix the rules about its accommodation and try not to suffer about it. That will for the benefit of my wife, but it will make me unhappy (or at least, anxious two out of three hours I'm at home).
- An ultimatum: Tell my wife "the spider goes or I go". If I succeed, I'll be happy, but I'll make my wife angry and resentful.
- Simply assume that the spider is a sign of severe insensitivity towards me and go. That would be a terrible blow for both my wife and me... it would risk my marriage; at the very least both of us would be angry at the other for a while, and the central problem (the spider at home) would not be addressed.
My main objective is for the spider to go. I simply can't be happy while the animal is here. So, the main question is:
How do I insist my wife get rid of the spider without looking like an insensitive or stubborn guy? And, as a secondary objective: if my wife does not get the message (i.e. she does not get rid of the spider): how to communicate the "ultimatum" in a respectful, but firm and final tone?