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Husband routinely makes plans without consulting his wife

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, 12:24 p.m.

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

Without consulting me, my husband committed himself, me and our infant to spending a week at the beach with his sister and her family next summer. The sister made plans and spent several hundred dollars preparing for this trip.

My husband only just got around to telling me, and as it turns out I cannot go — I have unbreakable plans at the same time — which means the baby also cannot go. My husband, therefore, does not want to go.

My question is, how to break this news to the sister in a way that doesn’t totally throw my husband under the bus? I am tired of always looking like the bad guy — this is the third or fourth time we’ve had a misunderstanding like this involving the sister — and annoyed that I have to be the one to fix it.

— Mrs. Fix-It

Why are you the one fixing it?

Why isn’t he calling his sister to say he screwed up and to offer money to make her whole?

That, to my mind, is everything.

If he refuses to talk to you about plans and refuses to clean up the messes he makes with this refusal, and you refuse to treat this as a bigger problem than this summer problem with his sister, then just tell his sister the truth: “[Husband] didn’t check with me before he agreed to this, and it turns out I have a conflict and can’t go.” The sunniest interpretation is that he threw himself under this bus, but I could also argue, since this is your third or fourth time fixing things, that your husband’s the one throwing you.

Re: Mrs. Fix-It:

Why don’t you have a shared calendar? Sounds like both of you are not communicating plans you are making, and both to the detriment of the other. One key strategy to making life work with kids: Get a synced digital calendar. At our house the stuff on the calendar first takes priority, unless by mutual decision. You can’t operate as autonomously when you have kids. It just doesn’t work like that, at least when they are small.

— Synced

Actually, I think it’s harder when they’re big — more activities, more potential conflicts. But yes to the shared calendar for sure.

Re: Calendar:

Any strategies for when the shared calendar doesn’t work? He complained about not having one. I made it. I updated it. I got complaints about all the notifications, and … he still won’t reference it.

— Anonymous

Then he is a bigger problem than technology can fix.

So. Is it brain wiring (ADHD, for example) and distraction? Or another undiagnosed health condition, like anxiety? Is it immaturity/entitlement (“I do what I want and lash out at people who presume to limit me”)?

The options that I can suggest here are limited because his thing is apparently to reject your options — right? But, these generally make the list when everything else has been crossed off: (1) Let him live with the unbuffered consequences of his choices; (2) Consult a health professional; (3) Consult an attorney.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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