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Woman Stunned When Husband Forbids Her From Using Fake Candles Because They Make Him ‘Anxious’

Lukas Vering / EyeEm / Getty Images

The tragedy of fear is that it makes so much sense to those who feel it, and none to those who don’t.

Fear doesn’t need to be rational to be reasonable to the person feeling it, but it can be very difficult to sympathize when you don’t quite understand why the other person is afraid.

This was the problem facing Redittor and Original Poster (OP) jmsnowqueen when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for outside opinions.

She asked:

“AITA for asking my husband to let me use fake candles?”

She began with the background.

My husband (35 male) and I (30 female) just bought a house and received housewarming gifts—including two very nice (and expensive) fake candles that look realistic and have timers so they will turn on and off at certain times.”

“My mom bought us the candles because she knows how much I love real candles, but she also knows my husband won’t let me use real candles because he is concerned about fire safety for our house and our dog.”

Then she explained the problem.

“Last night, I turned the candles on for the first time and he immediately asked me to turn them off or move them.”

“His reasoning – they look too much like real candles and they were making him anxious.”

“I relented and we moved the candles out of his line of sight.”

“Later that night before bed, he turned the candles off. I didn’t notice because he went to bed after me.”

“The next day after work he told me he turned the candles off.”

“I asked him why, and I explained to him that he messed up my timer.”

“He explained that he doesn’t like seeing them on when I’m not in the room because he thinks it’s a fire.”

“At this point, I asked him if he realized that his stance on these fake candles was a little extreme and he said he didn’t think so.”

The conversation went back and forth.

“I pushed back saying that I gave up using real candles for him, why can’t I have fake candles?”

“He pushed back and said that I can use the fake candles, but he doesn’t want them to be set on a timer because it makes him too nervous.”

“I pushed back and reminded him that he grew up never using candles and just needs time to get used to them.”

“And I reminded him that a real fire would look and feel and smell different than these two fake candles my mom gave us.”

“We reached an impasse in our discussion, and once again I asked him if he at least realized that his position was extreme.”

“He disagreed and said he thinks the use of fake candles isn’t a necessity in life, so why do I need them?”

“I explained that life is a dumpster fire in a flood, and sometimes it’s just nice to have nice things… like pretty candles on timers.”

“He also explained to me that fire safety is very important, our new house is in a town that only has a volunteer fire department and no fire hydrants.”

“I agreed but reminded him again… that these are FAKE candles I’m asking to use on a timer.”

“In the end, I asked him if he thought that strangers would side with him or me.”

They decided to reach out to Reddit together.

“He thinks you all will agree with him that prohibiting the use of real candles and limiting the use of fake candles is a reasonable ask.”

“I think you all will agree with me, that what he’s asking me to do is extreme.”

So OP was left to wonder,

“What do you think?”

Having explained the situation, she turned to the forum for clarity.

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided: NTA

Some wondered if there might be deeper issues.

“To be fair, OP, my ex had lots of hangups regarding food and clothing that matched that of someone on the spectrum and I begged him to get tested for YEARS.”

“He resisted and said that made me a bad SO, threatening to break up with me.”

“After the breakup (for unrelated reasons) sure enough, he found out that he’s on the spectrum.”

“With no prior history of trauma (to your knowledge) and with such a specific hangup, he could be as well.”

“Whether he is or isn’t, though, his behavior is still 100% wrong”~UnshakablePegasus


Does he have any ‘rituals’ he does?”

“Like double-checking locks an excessive amount or counting? He might have a mild form of OCD.”~VagueSoul

Others were more direct.

He just sounds like an a**hole to this internet stranger.”~krinkleb

Responses also doubted the motives.

“It’s not anxiety, it’s an excuse to be a controlling a**- clown.”~ZTL


“Controlling people aren’t usually controlling about everything; that’s how they justify it as reasonable. If he is trying to control any portion of your actions, he’s controlling.~sorchajuniper

OP did return with an update on the situation.

“UPDATE: He read through the comments (two hours ago so he hasn’t seen all of them, but I think he got the gist.)”

“He laughed for a long time reading these comments because he genuinely found it funny until I point-blank asked him not to laugh and to take it more seriously.”

“He said that reading the comments he can see how, yes, he was totally in the wrong, but he didn’t think he was being controlling, he just thought he needed more time to get used to the idea of the fake candles.”

“I proceeded to call him out on that BS and we had an hour-long discussion.”

“There was a lot we covered that went beyond just the candle issue.”

“But specifically, re: candles, I asked him if he seriously had some kind of trauma with fire.”

“He said it’s probably partially a Japanese thing, because his parents are Japanese and in Japan people are more strict with fire because of earthquakes, so growing up his parents didn’t allow candles.”

“But then, he also admitted to me that he doesn’t like the smell of candles and so that plus the combination of fire safety has made him adamant that I not use candles.”

“He said he didn’t think he was controlling and didn’t want to be and said he would get over the fear of real candles but does want me to be in the room for them.”

“Then for the fake candles, he said he was just being dumb and I can do whatever I want with them. I asked him why it took hundreds of strangers on the internet to get him to admit he was being ridiculous.”

“Because this is not the first time he has disagreed with me and refused to entertain an idea or desire I had, only to be convinced days or weeks later by things he read on the internet or conversations he’s had with co-workers:”

“(example, we moved into the house and had a problem with our well right away, and I said it was a major problem we should get fixed.”

“He disagreed and said it was a minor problem that could wait and the conversation went dead.”

“A month later he brought our well problems up to his coworkers and they convinced him that the well was a priority.”

“Then I called the well company and the dude chewed me out on the phone for not calling sooner.”

“And I said to my husband, why didn’t you believe me when I told you this was a problem? Why do you believe your co-workers over me.)”

“I reminded my husband of the well issue as another time it took the power of a group of other people to convince him”

“and he told me that the issue is that I don’t explain things in a way that makes sense to him and/or sometimes it just does take him time to get used to ideas when they are not his own.”

“He wants me to be more accepting of him being reluctant to new ideas and wants me to take more initiative (i.e. do what I want even if he disagrees).”

“That is a challenge for me so it’s something I can work on.”

“We talked about larger issues in our communication then.”

“And one of my failings has been not noticing the effort that he does put into our relationship.”

“I countered that I do, but our miscommunications sometimes overshadow the good things.”

“He then asked me what he wasn’t doing, and why I still get so upset with him over small things.”

“And I said to him, you know what I want—I want you to better understand me when I tell you things.”

“I don’t want to have to convince you to change your mind by asking the hivemind for advice.”

“If I want to do something or something is important to me, try to understand why.”

“Because I can only explain so much.”

“I am only one person.”

“He said, okay, he will work on that.”

“So that’s where we’re at.”

“I can use candles now (and maybe real ones??) and he won’t lecture me.”

“And for sure my fake candles are on in the living room!”

“It’s not really about the candles though—I just want to not have disagreements and fights over stupid sh*t.”

“Maybe if I have more confidence in my own decisions and he has more empathy for my point of view we’ll get better.”

“Thank you to everyone for your responses!”

The tragedy of fear is that it makes so much sense to those who feel it, and none to those who don’t.

The problem, of course, is that sometimes fear is an excuse.

Remember to be honest with others and yourself about the fears you harbor, and respectful of those who are honest with you about theirs.

Written by Frank Geier

Frank Geier (pronouns he/him) is a nerd and father of three who recently moved to Alabama. He is an avid roleplayer and storyteller occasionally masquerading as a rational human.