My Latest Screw-Up

BACKGROUND: Sometimes my DH will get a little frustrated that I check with him about every little thing or want him to make every decision.  Sometimes he wishes I would just handle things on my own and take them off his (over-full) plate.  

SITUATION: Our 12yr old daughter has been asking for 6 months or so to get braces.  I have been putting it off (intentionally...not procrastinating this time!) because I know we have a lot going on financially--a new lake house which needs furniture, we will soon need a new car and maybe two new cars.  And there was no real rush with the braces bc the dentist said we would evaluate it again in 6 months, but my DD wanted to get them NOW.  So one day a month or so ago when she was asking AGAIN, my DH asked me why I had not done it yet?  So I told him it would be expensive and there was no rush, and that I was waiting due to the cost.  He told me to go ahead and do it, that we were going to have to do it anyway so it didn't make much difference.  [At least I THINK this is what he said...]

MY ACTION: So I finally made the appointment the other day when I was being so productive and crossing so many things off my To-Do list. :)  I picked an orthodontist that has a good reputation and is very close and convenient to our home.  The appointment for the consultation was this week.  After he presented the information and the pricing, they said he could go ahead and put the braces on her that same day if we wanted to.  (Of course, my DD started begging.)  So I decided to go ahead and do would save me one more appointment to deal with!  I was proud of myself for not going through the ordeal that I usually do of evaluating ALL of the choices (every other orthodontist in town) before making a decision.  It seems like a great office, it seems like he knows what he's doing, it's a convenient location; there's no real reason that I could see NOT to use him.  So I left her there to get started while I took my other daughter on to school. On the way, I called my DH to ask him whether he wanted to do the payment plan or the lump sum up front and get the discount, etc?

HIS REACTION: He got upset and said he could not believe I made a decision like that without consulting him first.  Had I checked anyone else's prices?  Was this guy's cost competitive with others?  Apparently, in his mind, he meant for me to go ahead with the CONSULTATION only and then we would discuss the options.  Well, I truly have no idea exactly what he actually said, but I really THOUGHT he told me to go ahead and do it, and I even got the feeling it was one of those things he wanted me to just take care of.  Obviously I misunderstood, made some wrong assumptions, or maybe he miscommunicated--I don't know.  But I was HORRIFIED, because normally I WOULDN'T make that kind of decision without asking him!  He realized the error in his reaction, and quickly tried to backtrack because he did not mean or want to upset me.  I told him I could call them and tell them to stop, but he told me not to and that he would transfer the money over to cover a lump sum payment.  He tried to tell me it was okay and even said something about knowing that this (his reaction) would be a setback for us now.  

MY RESPONSE: I felt AWFUL.  I SHOULD have asked him first before spending several thousand dollars.  What was I THINKING?!  My disclaimer here is that I am NOT an impulsive spender--I do not usually have that problem, although I know some with ADHD struggle with that.  I am usually very hesitant, especially with big money like that (hence the reason I was waiting to begin with).  I am much more impulsive with the "nickel and dime" kind of stuff which can get us in trouble too, but we ALWAYS talk about big expenditures.  But I really THOUGHT we had already talked about it; I THOUGHT he wanted me to go ahead and do it.  And I was proud of myself that I had made a pretty big decision by myself without running to him as if he is my Daddy or something.  Ugh.  Why do I ALWAYS screw up!?!  This is why I feel like I can't do anything right, even when I'm really trying.  I texted him to apologize again and he told me to quit worrying about it.  I wish I could.

uhhh boyyy.......

been there.  done that.  Smaller scale, but one example: I took my daughter to get allergy tests without calling my husband.  He was working and unreachable when I got a call that a cancelation had opened up and I could bring her in that same day (instead of waiting another month).  He was angry because he'd had specific questions to ask and wanted to be there.  I hadn't thought to ask the questions he was concerned with but I called and left a message the next day with the questions and got a call a few days later with the answers, but .... I still screwed up... yet again....

I to am totally indecisive and rely on my husband to decide too much stuff too... mainly because I don't want the blame if something turns out wrong.  For example, I always ask what he wants for dinner.  He always says he doesn't care, but not so infrequently does he then complain about whatever it is I've chosen to cook.  (what?  we just had pasta the other night!)  I even have him weigh in WHILE i'm cooking sometimes (how many minutes more do you think for this roast?) so that I don't get the blame if it turns out wrong.  (huh... this is too dry...) 

Also, I HATE 'shopping around' for prices and am easily convinced by the first person I go to for some or other service.  Sometimes it doesn't matter and sometimes it really, really does.  I get nervous and feel pushed and just want to get the appointment/whatever over with.  I am uncomfortable and embarrassed by negotiations and bargaining, so I'm terrible at it.  I don't know if it's a lack of confidence/self esteem thing that's tied into ADD or if it's just me.  Maybe someone knows?

Right now i'm experiencing what I think YYZ warned me about.  I was starting to do better and now I keep thinking I can do more stuff and then I get bogged down and stuck in old patterns again. 


Glad your DH was able to see the 'reaction' and revise... I'm sure though, in the end it'll be ok.  You were going to get the braces sometime, right???

Hang in there!


I knew about adding too much too quickly because it was exactly what "I" did... Then I look just as frantic as before and nobody noticed that I was getting twice as much done, only what Did Not get done :-?

Hang in there... 


A good time...

This would be a good time to use your experience to discuss overtly what the "rules" are about when you need to consult each other.  Is there a dollar limit over which you always need to talk with each other about it? (my assumption here, in the sake of fairness is that he would follow the same rules - if not, then what you have isn't a financial mistake, but controlling behavior...)  For anything over $X do you always need to get multiple bids or estimates?  Use your experience here as a learning opportunity rather than as a chance to beat yourself up.  I would have likely done exactly what you did...

ADD wife & Ellamenno I

ADD wife & Ellamenno

I don't see where either of you did anything wrong in either situation. I am with Melissa, I would have done the same thing. Of course, my ADHD husband wants to deal with NOTHING, so this would have worked for me.

ADD seems you can't win for losing...if you ask, he says you ask too much..if you take the initiative, he gets mad. BUT, he did realize he had over-reacted and tried to make amends. As a non-ADHDer who is in those same shoes...I see this a progress. Yes, he got mad, but he realized and admitted he was wrong to do so. I've been in that position many times. Eventually, he'll 'think before he speaks' and this will get better.

Ellamenno, I don't see what you did as a mistake, the answers were easily obtainable and alls well that ends well. This is one of those things that you really need to just say "oh well, a cancellation and took her" and NOT FELT BAD about it matter how upset he was. Maybe he was just frustrated at the situation, but not at you specifically?'re being way too hard on yourselves.

You are Right

Yes, I agree Sherri.  I don't really think I did anything wrong either, but it is so disappointing when I realize that I did not do what he wanted because I am really trying TO do what he wants!  

But after some time and reflection, I think it must be hard for him to completely change the way he interacts with me and his expectations.  We have lived with a certain dynamic for so many years, and now I am acting differently.  He might actually LIKE it, but it is just different, so he may be reacting in our old dynamic where he was sort of the "parent" who was in control of everything.  And I contributed to that by asking him every little detail of everything as if I could not make a decision by myself!  So maybe he has not yet adjusted to a new dynamic where he may not always be aware of everything that is happening beforehand.  We don't even know what our new dynamic IS yet, except that I am behaving differently from one day to the next, which is probably confusing too.  In my first year of counseling, as my self-esteem increased and the counselor helped me to see that I needed to start doing "what works" rather than what I thought I "ought" to do or was "supposed" to do...I started being a little more independent and I would "push back" a little on doing everything "his way."  It caused some arguments for awhile, but when we talked through it, he admitted that he PREFERS for me to push back sometimes.  He doesn't like to feel like I have no opinion and he likes for me to be more assertive, even if I disagree with him.  And I know, because he has told me, that he does not WANT to be controlling, so for now I will just trust and accept that he tried to take back his initial reaction.  How many times have I wished I could do that myself!?

I forget how much pressure it is to be the breadwinner sometimes and to worry about all the finances.  I am not really a worrier; I tend to feel that things will just work out.  Whether that is my faith or my time-tunnel view of the present, it works for me!  But he has to plan for the distant future, including our retirement, the kids' college, etc., not to mention how to manage and balance the next few months' expenses at any given time.

Because he decided to pay the lump sum option, we obviously were not in a big financial or cash-flow crunch.  So I guess once he tempered his initial reaction, he realized he probably would have told me to go ahead even if I HAD asked him...but maybe just not the same day and not without evaluating anyone else.  That might have been a little TOO impulsive for him, especially when I usually ask him about purchasing anything from a shower curtain to the kids' clothes and shoes. :)  I need to be patient with him, too; I know he is trying also.  It's not fair for me to expect perfect reactions from him all the time and for him to also be perfectly understanding whenever I overreact!  This is certainly a delicate dance for both partners, isn't it?

I understand wanting to do

I understand wanting to do things to please him..that's great...but the only thing that needs tweaking is how you feel about yourself when you don't hit that target exactly. It isn't about living up to what he expects you to be, it is about living up to what you expect you to be...and forgiving yourself for stumbling occasionally.

Yes, I think I made that point in my original post, that it is just as hard for us to change our reactions as it is for you guys to change you behaviors. It took MONTHS and a LOT of "ok..I have to STOP AND THINK before I say anything" and making a lot of conscious efforts to 'react' in the right way. I also realize that not everything he did "wrong" HAD to be a fight. Man, that one was huge for me. I would ask myself, just as I'm telling you, "is this something I really have a right to be mad at him for?" For ex: a few years ago he used his warranty/insurance on his cell phone and had them send him a new one...his old one messed up. They give you 10 days to mail the old one back..sending a box and label and everything. He didn't get it mailed back and they charged us $400. He called, as long as he returned it, they'd credit the money. I was furious. Plain and simple I probably made him feel horrible about himself. FF to just a couple of months ago...and guess who did the exact same thing? When I told him...his reaction was "it happens" and he changed the subject. Getting out of the mindset that I could/should/had to be furious over everything he did was HARD!!  I don't think I EVER cut him an inch of slack on anything he did that "I" felt was wrong. I'm ashamed to admit that. Learning to pick your battles is huge. I would guess this is where your husband is doing most of his 'hard work' right now.

I also wish my husband were a bit more independent and had more of an opinion. Oddly enough, he accuses me of not WANTING him to have one. I have tried to figure out how I've contributed to this way of thinking. I try not to blow off anything he says anymore...and take everything to have at least a little truth in it..even though what he's saying is often very wrong, I worry that I've done something to make his perception wrong. Right now though, where he's coming out of his ADHD hell hole, he's pushing for control of his life in ways that aren't fair and that he would never tolerate from me. I've asked for compromises in one particular situation, offered solutions, asked for his input, and even though he agreed the compromise was fair, a week later we're fighting over it again. He says he'll do what he wants and he doesn't care if that "pisses you off". So, sometimes he takes his "right" to control his own life in the wrong direction.

My husband is the exact same way.."things will work out..just don't worry about money" even when I explain we're behind, no money in the bank, not sure how we'll get caught up, etc...and he FAULTS me for worrying saying that all I care about is money. I think his "devil may care" attitude about it makes me worry more. He's not doing horribly with money at the moment, but as I've come to realize this could change in the blink of an eye. Someone could call him with something for sale that he wants or he could be out visiting one of his various stops around town and see a guitar or pedal or something he wants and that could all change. This is one of the worst areas of our marriage and one that causes me the most stress.

Yes, don't expect him to get it all right for a while either...and most importantly, don't feel bad about yourself when he doesn't. In the situation with the braces..he apologized quickly and knew he needed to handle that smile and say "yes! Progess!!" :-)

I agree...

I didn't think it was a mistake either, but the reason he was so angry was because he wanted to BE there.  Our DD has some scary food allergies and we were just figuring it all out at the time and he was very upset he couldn't be there to talk to the doctor first hand because he knows he can't trust me most of the time to understand what's being said to me... even if I write down VERBATIM what the doctor says - he prefers to be there himself.  So now I make appointments for her only when he can bring her himself.  I do NOT want something to happen to her and have it be because I misinterpreted something the doctor said to me.