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Carolyn Hax: Husband’s lack of planning hurts

Fri., April 8, 2011

Hi, Carolyn: I love my husband dearly, and I do believe he loves me, too. I just don’t always feel it from him.

It’s my birthday today, and he asked me at midnight last night what I’d like to do to celebrate, which tells me he’s planned and bought nothing. He gave me a hug and sang a silly song, and seems to want to make me happy. It just feels like the effort is minuscule and obligatory.

To add insult to injury, he’s very good at making plans for things that are important to him: He has coordinated a very complex golf weekend with his dad and several friends, and asked if I would spend Friday to Monday caring for his 87-year-old aunt, who has dementia. When I agreed, he said he owes me “huge.”

He does show me love in other ways. But it feels like everything revolves around him. Thoughts? – Happy birthday to me … or not

His golf weekend isn’t the insult, it’s the injury.

He does go all out – just not for you. And that hurts. Especially if you were misled during courtship, by him or by wishful thinking, into believing you’d be the object of his caretaking, not the stepladder for it.

Recognizing this also leaves you with a few sub-tempting choices. You can find value in being the stepladder. You can start saying “no” when he asks you to enable plans that exclude you (e.g., let someone else mind his aunt). You can spell out, with examples, that you’re sick of being taken for granted and see if he finally gets it.

I suggest using all three approaches: Know that you’re under no obligation to help him spoil everyone but you; be prepared to decide whether his “other ways” of showing love are enough; and speak out.

Right now you’re on course to sublimate till you crack. Better to live openly in deference to your needs; that way, wherever it leads will be plain for all to see.

Email Carolyn at

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