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Ask an Apostle: Are home security cameras a bad idea?

Teresa Coda answers your questions this week.
Catholic Voices

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Q: My husband wants to put security cameras outside our house. I am wary of living in a sort of surveillance state. He is concerned about crime but I feel this is a slippery slope and might lead to not trusting anyone. What should I do?

—My watch has ended

A: While admittedly I’m tempted to join you in the anti-surveillance state/pro-trusting humanity side of this debate and give you a whole list of talking points on why not to install security cameras, this isn’t my marital conflict to involve myself in, so instead I’m going to share with you my husband’s and my go-to tool for making decisions when our opinions are at odds.

There are some marital debates in which compromise can be achieved (yes, we’ll take a family vacation this year even though one member of the couple is more worried about finances than the other, but we’ll keep it a simple camping trip). But there are other ones that are not so compromise-able. It would be a bit silly to put security cameras in the front of the house while keeping the back unmonitored, right?

For resolving issues where compromise feels like less of a possibility, my husband and I have a general policy: whoever cares more wins. It sounds both crass (winning? This is a marriage, not a game of Monopoly) and overly simplistic, but hear me out when I say that this policy has proven largely effective in our (very small) sample of one couple. One of us was inclined to stop wearing masks to church once our family was vaccinated, while the other was still concerned about both germs and about sending a message of respecting the common good; we kept wearing masks. One of us didn’t really want a dog, the other one desperately wanted a dog; we got the dog.

Sometime when you are both feeling calm and open (i.e. not at 9 p.m. after a long and frazzling day), I’d suggest having a conversation with your husband in which you each paint detailed pictures of your reasoning for and against security cameras, going into depth with your feelings about the issue, and see if that takes you anywhere in determining “who cares more.” If it does, it could help you make a decision. But even if it doesn’t, it will increase communication and understanding of the other’s thoughts and feelings.

About the author

Teresa Coda

Teresa Coda works in parish faith formation. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young daughters.

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