Apparently, one kid had a trampoline, but her backyard was not really suited for it (long story). So my husband offered ours, discussing the details with the kid’s father, and now this is happening. I did not like hearing this. I love to sit and read or just do nothing in my garden after a long day’s work (we both work more than full-time). I don’t want to come home and explain to enthusiastic children why I want them to leave. When I confronted my husband about this, he said that we have enough space to share. I was angry, but I mostly grieved actually, for my husband to ignore me in a decision like that. He said he felt bad but that he had had no idea this was such a big deal for me.
This is not the first time that he decided independently on something that concerns us both. (It’s not even our first fight about his one-sidedly promising the use of our garden to other people.) The pattern is: He does it, I get mad over it, we argue, we’re both sad, he understands where I’m coming from, I understand he didn’t mean to pass me by, things get better, he does it again.
Over the years, I’ve found he has a habit of reassuring me he’s looking out for me but then not following this through when he’s inconvenienced by it. For example: There was a rapist on the loose in our neighborhood, and for two weeks my husband accompanied me in every little thing I had to do outside of the house when it was dark. I felt perfectly safe alone on the street and I told him that. He insisted on accompanying me though. Sometimes to my annoyance, but, hey: I understood why he’d want to do it. Then one night my husband and I and some friends were at a bar (a fifteen-minute walking distance from our house), it was late, I wanted to leave, he didn’t want to leave, and I walked home alone. I confronted him with his ambivalence. He apologized eventually, but his first reply was, “But you said you felt safe anyway.” According to him, I did the woman-thing by saying the one thing (“I’m fine”) and then expecting the other (“Walk with me”). But I didn’t mind his staying at the bar having fun. I did mind his not taking my word for it earlier, when I had told him I felt safe enough to do things on my own, and then suddenly deciding I would be safe when it was to his advantage.
I honestly don’t know whether I’m exaggerating or not. I sometimes feel like I can’t trust my own judgments because they get clouded by my anxiety and episodes of depression (I’m in therapy for that, btw). Maybe I should just be pissed about the trampoline while at the same time write it off to my husband’s impulsive character, not make a big deal out of it, see how it turns out with these kids playing in our yard and only then draw a line when/if it becomes necessary. I just wish we would have had a normal discussion about this playground in which I got a decent say. Now I don’t get a choice other than maybe putting my foot down and ending the playground thing, thus disappointing a lot of innocent kids and probably feeling even shittier.
I love my husband a lot. Apart from what I’ve told you here, he’s a great guy and we have so much fun together. The thought of leaving makes me sick to my stomach. But the thought of having to share my space with neighbor kids I don’t even have a bond with drives me nuts, and I’m so tired of feeling hurt about being cast aside (if you understand what I mean). What do you think about this? — Not Jumping For Joy Over the Trampoline
I think you sound like a pushover and the reason your husband keeps disregarding your feelings — and even worse, not even consulting you about what your feelings are in the first place! — before making unilateral decisions that affect you both is because you’ve established a pattern of letting him get away with it. You don’t say no. There are no consequences for his behavior. There is only your feeling like shit because you’re stuck with something you don’t want and feeling like your husband doesn’t care. Stop the pattern — stop the madness!
You already know that the current pattern — he does it, you get mad over it, you argue, you’re both sad, he understands where you’re coming from, you understand he didn’t mean to pass you by, things get better, he does it again — doesn’t work. So, you have to change the pattern. How? You start putting your foot down and saying no: “No, we can’t put a trampoline in the backyard. That’s my backyard and I don’t want to share it with a bunch of neighbor kids I don’t even know. I want to come home from work and enjoy my garden and yard in peace and not feel like I’m hosting a play group every evening and weekend.”
Yes, the kids will be disappointed. But they’ll get over it. And who cares if they don’t? What are they going to do — start a petition to have you banned from the neighborhood? Side-eye you at the grocery store? I mean, really, who cares. YOUR comfort on a daily basis in your own backyard matters much, much more than the neighbor kids having an additional playground (at your expense!).
And, honestly, I’m side-eying your husband right now as I type (not literally, of course–he’s not here with me or anything). He may be a “great guy” as you say and I don’t doubt that you have fun together, but he’s being a dick to you, and the two of you would probably benefit from a couple sessions with a couples counselor to address this communication issue you have in which he acts as if your feelings are totally irrelevant. When you talk to a counselor, you should address ways you can compromise on decisions that you disagree about. For example, instead of installing a big trampoline, maybe you can buy a small trampoline and an inflatable pool that can be easily stowed away in a garage and brought out at designated times, like if you host a BBQ or two for your new neighbors this summer.
All that said, your argument about your husband changing his mind when something becomes inconvenient to him as illustrated by his letting you walk home alone from the bar after a week of insisting he accompany you everywhere outside is unfair. The same argument could be said for you. You told him all week you felt perfectly safe without his escorting you, but then, as soon as you felt like your safety could be compromised, you were angry that your husband didn’t accompany you home. But you’d just spent a whole week telling him you didn’t need him! I understand that you were angry that it took his hanging out with his friends and feeling inconvenienced by leaving to finally validate you, but, if you were truly bothered by your husband walking you everywhere, you should have welcomed walking home alone from the bar. And if you felt unsafe walking home alone late at night with a rapist on the loose, you should have said, “NOW I would feel better if you walk with me because it’s dark and late.”
Finally: You don’t have to leave your husband over all of this. And, frankly, I’m surprised that you seem to think your only two options are letting him walk all over you or leaving him. There’s a huge swath of middle ground here that has yet to be explored. In this unexplored territory, you communicate what you want, stand up for yourself, and work with your husband to find compromises that don’t leave either of you feeling like you got the super short end of the stick (or a yard full of squealing kids!).
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.