Party of …. 1.5

Who’s the decision maker in your family? Is it both of you? You? Your partner?

At our place, it’s me. I’m the one who makes sure the bills are paid on time. Who makes sure we grocery shop when the pantry/fridge are looking bare. Who tries to plan ahead.

The husband, however, has the bad habit of ignoring my requests for input, or saying “no let me take care of it!” and then postponing as long as he can. It’s like pulling teeth, I swear.

This past week, however, it’s hit the fan.

1. I find a deal for Christmas cards. Knowing better than to call him in the middle of the day, I send him an email “Do you have people to add to our Christmas card list? If so, roughly how many? I found a deal and I want to grab it right away.” He reads the email, doesn’t respond. Also, doesn’t get home until 11pm (school and all). By the time I drag an answer out of him, the deals are sold out.

2. A running blogger I follow has been singing the praises of a certain pair of shorts. Yesterday, they were on sale for HALF PRICE. Knowing we’re broke, I shoot him an email to see if he thinks it’s worth it. I had to re-ask this morning, before work. He said eh, it’s up to me. I try to buy them … and they’re back to full price.

3. I still have not met most of his family. His dad’s siblings and so on could not afford to come to our wedding and, as they mostly live in the Seattle area, it’s not like we have many opportunities to see them. 2 years ago, family drama meant I wasn’t allowed to go to the grand family gathering at Thanksgiving. ::grumbles:: Last year, we were in Columbus with his mom’s family. This year, I was determined to make it to Seattle. Not only did I want to see everyone, this may be one of the last chances for me to meet his rapidly deteriorating grandparents. He said he wanted to talk to his mom and find out the plans. For 3 MONTHS I looked up flights, sent him emails, had conversations with him, pushed him along. I mean, I know he’s busy, but dammit, make the call so we don’t have to spend ALL our funds on flights. This week I look again … and guess what? The flights are officially too expensive. We can’t go, no matter what. And he STILL hasn’t talked to his mom about it.

I’m just so, so done. I’m getting sick of being ignored, or pushed off while he focuses on whatever has his attention at that moment.* I’m sick of missing opportunities because I’m trying to include him in the decisions for our family.

Does this happen to anyone else? Or anything similar? How do you cope with it? How do you fix it? We’ve discussed (and fought about) it so many times … and nothing changes.

It’s giving me a severe case of the sads today.


* Ok, that was mean. But really, that’s what it feels like.

20 Comments to “Party of …. 1.5”

  1. You sound a lot like me and my husband. It sounds awful, but I sort of took him out of most of the decision making processes. He has no clue how money stands in the household and sort of blindly expects that I will take care of things and inform him when and if things need to happen. I have grown to know that when he says he will do something that most likely he will never do it unless I nag him about it or just do it myself, and I hate being a nag.

    I will ask for his input on things like vacations and holidays, but it normally comes down to, “Answer me in the next five minutes or I will do what I want/we will sit at home in the dark and not celebrate this holiday at all.” After the year we actually say at home on Christmas and did absolutely nothing, no gifts, no dinner, nada, he started responding in when I said now or never. I typically tell him before I do something and give him that 5 minute window, but several times I have booked vacations we have discussed because we had the money and it was uber cheap right then. I tell him later and if there is a problem, well that is what paying $20 for the vacation insurance is for.

    I hate that our relationship has turned into one giant ‘ask forgiveness instead of permission’ on my behalf, but I was just got tired of fighting and missing things. I figure if he is really against how I am handling things he will start being a more active participant, until then he has to do it my way.

    • That makes a lot of sense. The one that bugs me the most is Thanksgiving because … well, I guess I’ve already outlined the reasons. And it made no sense to book the tickets before we knew if the family was even goign to BE there.

      But I guess that’s where the travel insurance comes in, right?

      • Yea I have only had to use the insurance once, but I was glad it was there. I always hate going over his head and just doing things myself but sometimes it has to be done. I have a lot of girlfriends who have similar problems with their husbands. I think it is a guy thing. Next time, if I were you, I would call his mother instead of waiting on him to do it.

        Ohh and a thought on airline tickets, look at Spirit Airline. Their tickets are stupid cheap, though it is a completely no frills airline and you have to pay to check or carry on your bags, but even then it is cheaper than most any other airline. Might be a last ditch option.

        • That’s what I’m doing next time. I’m sick of it.

          As a picture of how expensive these tickets are? Even spirit wants to charge us $800 each for round trip. That’s not happening.

  2. I have to say, I think it gets easier with time. It may be an issue you pound your head against the wall about for a while, and that slow-ly rights itself, or you learn to navigate around it. Kamel was super like that at the beginning of our engagement about wedding stuff. We have also had a routine fights about him carrying his weight around the house, because I’m not a) his mom or b) a maid. But we’ve both gotten tons better with time AND maturity. We just recently had a conversation about this too… how we’ve both matured a lot and have done a much better job in the last few months of navigating our relationship with the day to day drag of life.

    It’s one of those time things. You’ll get there.

    • I hope so, but it feels like he’s just getting worse, as I take care of more and more. I mean, I know he’s young, but really? I don’t think I did this at his age.

      • It does get worse as you take care of more and more. When someone takes over, the tendency is to step back and let them. It’s hard – I haven’t managed to get very far with this – but try to step back on some things . Maybe the things that don’t matter as much to hopefully force him to step into your place. Easier said than done I know.

  3. Oh yes. Last night when I had to have a little rant about this very problem I believe I referred to it as ” the brick I get to keep hitting my head on for my entire life”

    He is not terrible about the big stuff – I’m the one to initiate the discussion and he’s a little slow to respond maybe, but generally on board. It’s all the little things that are the real problem – the things that run your every day life. Like stocking the fridge, or even more importantly, noting that the fridge needs to be stocked the day before it does! Or bringing in the mail. Or moving that damn laundry rack that’s been sitting there for a week. Or booking the vet appointment. Or, or or… the problem is it adds up to a gigantic list and sometimes I get tired too and lack the motivation to push not just myself but him.

    Last night it was ok – I vented and got it out without making it a giant attack on him. But I know this brick I’m smashing my head into is not going away.

  4. We have some of this dynamic. It has gotten lots better with time. I find that explaining why it is important to me helps quite a bit.

  5. A big solution for us has been a family meeting every Monday night. We make it a big priority and it has really helped us to keep on the same page. We had A LOT of the same problems you mention here and over the last few years, this weekly check in has saved us a lot of anger, miscommunication, and money. It was easy for us to start because of our church’s expectation of a weekly family night, so don’t know how hard it would be for you to get a buy in from the husband. I think it would be worth a shot though.

    The regular things we go over are the family calendar and the budget. The calendar helps to keep our personal and family commitments fresh in our minds by adding and reviewing them each week. We often bring up travel for family events and vacation plans and set deadlines for making the reservations. It also gives us a forum to review/discuss any itineraries or expenses without distractions. Nothing worse than trying to make big travel purchases, than when you have to compete with a video game or the computer.

    The budget has really saved us. We enter our receipts each week into our program, and review the overall budget. We have categories for everything from rent, to bills, to vacation, to date night. Usually one of us takes a go at distributing the new available funds and the other reviews it (we take turns). Anything we don’t agree with, we can discuss. We also take turns reconciling the ledger with our bank statements every month so no one gets stuck with doing the tedious work every time.

    Even when things were tight, we maintained “his” and “hers” categories in the budget. We added a little each pay period and didn’t have to answer to each other the way we chose to spend the money. This has been one of my favorite things. Sometimes, I don’t want to have to justify it, or wait on it. I just want it!!! lol If I’ve got the “hers” money for it, it’s done! =)

    If you think you might need to help him swallow this family business type experience, follow up the serious stuff with something fun, like a special desert or a good movie. Reward yourselves for getting through the work! =)

    Don’t know if any of this will help, but just wanted to give you hope! We still have issues (he doesn’t do as much around the house as I would like, for one *wink*), but things are much less stressful when we take the time to do this. *hugs*

    • See, I knew there was a reason you got married first. ::winks:: Wise, wise words. Thanks, love.

    • I love the idea of family meetings. We sit down and talk budget pretty regularly, and we recently portioned off a “his” and “hers” category in the budget of discretionary spending. Also, I know some couples that set a dollar limit, like if a purchase is less than $20, they just buy it. I also will often buy things and then talk to my spouse and return them if he has a problem with it.

    • We’re still working on our budgeting/choring/living-together styles, so I don’t have any real advice to offer there, but I’m totally on board with Christina’s suggestion of a family meeting. Any communal living situation I’ve had has been made so much better by regular, scheduled discussions. And, especially when school and work and all the other daily pressures of life keep you from seeing someone, scheduling time to talk, in-person, is vital. Roger and I try to have date night every single week, and even though we usually don’t talk about household or relationship issues, it’s a really nice time for us to reconnect after a week of not seeing much of each other. Plus, it’s our excuse to splurge on eating out!

  6. Sorry I wrote a book! lol I just want you to be happy face! =) I am a lot like you in trying to pick up too much of the slack. The boys are grown ups too, even if they would prefer to be boys forever.

  7. Thanks everyone. Just knowing I’m not alone in this is helping more than you’d realize.

  8. We do pretty well with both pulling our weight for big things like bill-paying, making vacation decisions together, etc., but Jason and I definitely have a planning disconnect when it comes to the smaller things. Our anniversary trip is actually a great example. We’d agreed to go to Napa. I really wanted him to plan it, partly since I tend to do most of the small day-to-day planning in our house (like when we need to grocery shop, what’s for dinner, when we really need to deep clean, etc.) and, well, partly because I was like “You’re the guy, it’s your job,” lol.

    Anyway, a week before our anniversary, he has a couple emails from friends with suggestions of places to go/stay/eat and nothing else. No hotel. No plan. Nothing. Long story short, we got in a big fight, he booked a hotel, and I ended up making an itinerary and throwing it at him with “If you want to do something else, come up with your own damn plan.” (We went with my plan, ha.) What I learned from the experience is that when Jason plans something for the two of us, he always wants my input from start to finish. He wants us to make every little part of the decision together. This drives me nuts, because my preferred mode is “Narrow down to two or three options and ask me to pick. Or make a plan and give me veto power.” When we do it together, I just end up feeling like I’m doing all the work and then it’s not special anymore. So now we tend to make the big decisions together – “We’re going to Napa for our anniversary” or “We want to visit these three sites while we’re in x city” – and then I come up with the agenda and run it by him.

    I’d still love for him to take more initiative on these details, especially when it comes to finding new places for us to go on dates (I blame the fact that the entirety of our dating relationship took place in what he perceived to be “my” city, so it became really easy for him to default to what he perceived was my wider knowledge of Atlanta and things to do therein). Sometimes it bothers me that he can spend hours researching the best gaming mouse for his computer or the best deal on a TV but he seemingly can’t spend ten minutes finding us a new restaurant to try. But then again, I could care less about researching techie stuff, so maybe we’re just playing to our strengths?

    Anyway, super-long comment, but just wanted to say I sympathize and I think a lot of this stuff gets resolved with more practice and lots of communication. I really like what another commenter said about having “family meetings” when you *have* to address stuff. I also try to make sure that when we’re splitting up chores, that I take my fair share of the ones neither of us like (like making business calls) and that I include him in the “fun” ones (like picking a new piece of decor for our place together). And lots of positive reinforcement. More bees with honey and all that. 🙂

  9. I’ve learned that if it’s something that is time dependent, I have to speak with him about why it’s important. That’s way better than email for him to understand.

    We’ve figured out that my decision making process is to plan months ahead of time, but that stresses him out. He doesn’t want to deal with it unless it’s a day or two away, because if he has to figure it out before he can actually DO something about it, it’s difficult. I don’t get that, but it’s how his head works. Sometimes if we’ve tried and failed to figure it out, I wash my hands and make him in charge of it. When that happens, he starts to get how important it is, and all of the fine details that go along. He loves to plan out trips, but his MO is to do it the week of–and he comes up with the most amazing places that I never figured out in the months before. So we’ve figured that we can plan out the bare bones of a trip before without stressing him, and then we work together on it the week before/of.

    Sometimes I’ll assume it’s something he wouldn’t care about, and then he surprises me by wanting to participate–like with last year’s holiday cards, where we made them together.

    This is one of those things that I think we’ll spend years balancing, and that we both have to compromise on. Which stinks because I’m right. 😛

    • Yep. If I have the chance, I talk to him about it. The problem comes (mostly) when we’re both at work/school and email is the only way to communicate on a quick decision.

      I’ve asked him for a quick response … if he has an opinion chime in, if not just say “It’s up to you” or something similar. So I can just go on. We’ll see how that works.

  10. We have this problem with about half of what you’ve listed. My husband pays the bills and manages the budget and deals with the money stuff, but he seems to have decided that I’m in charge of our social calendar. I get really annoyed when he says, “we haven’t seen so and so in awhile, why not?” Like I’m the only person with email, or a phone. He also holds off on e-mailing his mom and dad, and then they make plans for weekends we had talked about going to visit them or them coming down to visit us.

    I have taken to making plans and putting them on the Google calendar and inviting him to them. I have also taken to telling him if he wants to make plans, he can make them, and if he doesn’t, I will make all-by-me-onesies plans, and I do that, so he’s started making plans. The reason I don’t really mind doing this is like I said, my husband pays the bills and manages our finances and does the laundry and a lot of housework. I generally manage our social calendar and our meal planning/cooking situation. I can see why, if I was in your situation, I would feel really annoyed that he wasn’t pulling his weight, and the more you do for him, the less he will do, because he will get used to you being the one that makes the plans, etc. But you shouldn’t suffer either, so maybe end urgent e-mails with, “if you don’t respond, I will assume you don’t have a problem with it and will go ahead and do it.” That way, if it’s something he really doesn’t want, he will respond, and if it’s really something he doesn’t care about, you can go ahead.

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