Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Husband Promised the Neighbor Kids a Trampoline in Our Backyard Without Asking Me!”

Your recent topic of the day, on relationships and the strains on them, struck a chord. I’ve been with my husband for thirteen years now. He’s a funny, friendly, amiable guy, kind of like Marshall from “How I Met Your Mother” but a bit tougher (to give you a picture). We’ve bought a dream house with a dream yard that we both care a lot about. The other day a neighbor kid came up to me saying she was looking forward to playing on our trampoline. Turns out my husband has promised to build a trampoline in our yard and all the kids in our neighborhood are really excited. I had no idea.

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!).

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

53 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Suzy April 18, 2016, 8:14 am

    Who is going to watch the kids every day in your backyard? Or is he just planning to hear or about injuries from the police and the lawsuits?

    And it sends like you’re afraid to (or don’t feel entitled to) communicate your feelings until you’re feed up and explode at him. That’s nor fair to him. You have to be brave and counseling may help with the communication.

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    • avatar

      Meg Murry April 18, 2016, 8:38 am

      Yes, backyard trampolines can be a major liability, especially if people aren’t following the safety recommendations. For instance, many companies recommend only 1 person at a time on a trampoline, or if there are 2 people that they be under X lbs total and within X lbs of each other’s weight. Keeping the trampoline properly maintained (no rusty or broken springs, etc) is also important, as is having a safety net around the trampoline.

      That said, I definitely participated on trampoline jumping that broke every single one of those rules above and more as a kid/teen – and pretty much every jumping session ended because someone got hurt (and more than once it was klutzy me). It was usually only the kind of injuries that called for ice and resting (black eyes, sprained ankles, tweaked knees, etc) but I witnessed more than one trip for x-rays resulting from trampoline injury when I was growing up. By hosting the trampoline on your property, technically it is your liability insurance that is at risk if a neighbor kid or one of their friends gets hurt on it.

      It was really nice of your husband to offer up your yard, but it sounds like he did so without really thinking it through, and definitely without consulting you. My husband also has lots of moments when he doesn’t realize that something that is no big deal to him is actually a moderately big deal to me (and vice versa sometimes, but it’s generally me getting upset more than him), and we go back and forth with us being understanding and asking the other first, and then backsliding and round and round in circles.

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      • MaterialsGirl

        MaterialsGirl April 18, 2016, 8:59 am

        And really, whose liable? Did he think about your insurance premium with a trampoline? Are the neighbors going to be as generous when one of their kids breaks an arm?

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      • avatar

        TheShrinkingMrsSmith April 18, 2016, 12:34 pm

        I’m an insurance agent, and trampolines make me nervous for just these reasons. Perhaps LW needs to get some outside help on this one, in the form of one of my fellow professionals. The risks of an all access trampoline are beyond high. The land owner (AKA LW and her husband) are 100% liable for any accident that could happen, and they could lose the home they love so much.
        He clearly is a doer and not a thinker, and this is one of those things that really should have been brought up to you, especially because it concerns your space. You may love the guy, but I do think an outside perspective is needed here, and not just from an insurance agent to talk some sense into his head. A trampoline seems harmless, but I can’t begin to tell you how many claims and lawsuits start this way.
        You’re friendly with everyone now, but as soon as someone gets hurt, that’s gone.
        I’d just keep saying no, LW, and refuse to allow the trampoline to go up. So what if you become the mean lady in the neighborhood.

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    • kare

      kare April 18, 2016, 9:55 am

      Pretty sure the LW married Homer Simpson

      https://youtu.be/dxupN_AdFDg

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    • avatar

      Gwyneth6 April 18, 2016, 12:26 pm

      Great point- did he volunteer her as a care taker of these kids (without asking)?!

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    • avatar

      Bostonpupgal April 19, 2016, 11:09 am

      This. Exactly. My immediate first thought was that a trampoline in the backyard for any neighborhood kid to use at will is an absolutely horrendous idea and the LW and her husband are going to get sued to high heaven when a kid falls and breaks their neck. Absolutely under no circumstances should you put up this trampoline. Call your homeowners insurance company and see what they have to say about this plan. They will likely raise your rates substantially or refuse to cover you if you put this up and offer it freely to the neighborhood. This alone should stop your husband from going through with his horrible idea.

      Beyond that, your husband sounds like a selfish jerk. Get counseling as wendy suggests immediately. It’s also worth bringing up in counselling that you’re considering leaving him over his lack of caring about you, and his blatant disregard of you. Then he has fair warning, and you’ll know over the next few months if he’s going to make the necessary changes or not.

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      • avatar

        Jessibel5 April 19, 2016, 11:46 am

        Me too. I was going “No my god, the liability!!! Won’t someone think of the liability!!!”

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  • avatar

    Kate April 18, 2016, 8:16 am

    Also, how about the risk of a kid hurting herself in your backyard and you being liable?? I’d be even more worried about that. Is that valid?

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    • avatar

      Kate April 18, 2016, 8:20 am

      Oh Suzy beat me to it!

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    • avatar

      bondgirl April 18, 2016, 8:40 am

      I’ve been thinking the same exact thing! The trampoline can be a HUGE liability by letting all the neighborhood kids come over to jump on it.

      I can understand the pushover part though. My mother is the type of person to stay silent and passive in hopes of not “stirring the pot” and by learned behavior I’ve done that too, mainly out of fears of silent treatment/being cut off (mainly emotionally). Sooner or later tho it’s time to put on the big girl pants and stand up for yourself. Personal and couples therapy would be hugely helpful in this situation.

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      • avatar

        Gwyneth6 April 18, 2016, 12:28 pm

        Had the same problem with my mom..

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  • avatar

    Sara April 18, 2016, 8:27 am

    Yes to the folks already worried about injuries and lawsuits. I was never allowed to have a trampoline as a child because my mother worked in radiology and had seen far too many injuries from them.

    Ok, so there are bigger communication issues in the LW’s letter. but this really stood out to me because it isn’t just an issue of the LW raining on someone’s parade and being the big neighborhood meanie. This is about the potential to be liable for an injury that happened on her property.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal April 18, 2016, 8:36 am

    Oh dear, the liability issues. Will the kids’ parents all sign release waivers that absolve you from responsibility should their child be injured on your property?! A trampoline is quite a dangerous thing, and if not properly supervised, kids will get hurt on it. Communication issues aside, this idea of a neighborhood trampoline is a TERRIBLE idea.

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    • avatar

      DLW April 19, 2016, 5:55 am

      And a waiver may or may not be effective where a minor is involved. Some states will not allow a parent to waive their child’s rights. Even with a waiver, LW and her husband could be on the hook for thousands of dollars in damages for a disabling injury to a child. It would be insane to do this. The LW’s husband should tell the neighbor dad that their insurance says it’s a no go.

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  • avatar

    Essie April 18, 2016, 8:38 am

    Yep, liability. Check your homeowner’s policy, you may not even be covered for injuries to your neighbor’s kids. You may have to pay for additional coverage. Or the company may not be willing to cover it at all – some won’t. And then you’ll be paying the medical bills of any kid who is injured on your trampoline. And possibly, damages in a lawsuit.

    While it’s a very big deal that the LW’s husband has no problem drafting her as the neighborhood babysitter, or taking away *her* relaxation time in *her* own yard, the liability is a bigger issue. He’s made a decision that could profoundly affect their financial situation without even telling her, let alone asking for her input.

    I don’t know. After 13 years of my husband acting like a single guy who doesn’t even owe his wife the courtesy of mentioning major decisions, I’d be pretty worn down. That may be why the LW is at the point of choosing between staying or going.

    I’m with Wendy. LW, it’s time to put your foot down. No trampoline. And when he does this again, you do the same. If you weren’t consulted, you say no. Up till now, you’ve taught him that there are no consequences besides you getting a little ticked off, and then he gets what he wants anyway. It’s time to change that.

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  • avatar

    AmyP April 18, 2016, 8:39 am

    Talk to your insurance company about the trampoline idea.

    We were thinking of doing one, but the insurance stuff changed our minds.

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  • avatar

    Randee April 18, 2016, 8:52 am

    What everybody said already on the liability issues. That’s your hard out.

    The bigger picture stuff, though, is beyond the trampoline — as Wendy notes. What strikes me here is that he doesn’t necessarily respect your boundaries (in part because you’re not making them hard lines in the sand, so admittedly it can be like trying to track a moving target). But you need to be able to say no and stick to it — and he needs to be able to hear that no and also adhere to it, as a boundary marker. There’s nothing wrong with a little compromising — that is the nature of relationships — but his continuing to hear what he wants to hear means he’s not hearing what you need him to hear. Good luck with the bigger picture.

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  • avatar

    PumpkinSpice April 18, 2016, 8:53 am

    Let me add something here. As a home owner myself, I would NEVER let this happen. If one of those kids falls off the trampoline and breaks an arm/leg, guess who the parents are gonna sue. I hope you have great home owners insurance. What your husband is doing is completely walking all over you, and you need to put a stop to it.

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    • avatar

      PumpkinSpice April 18, 2016, 8:57 am

      I answered without reading the comments, so ditto on everything.

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  • avatar

    Ron April 18, 2016, 9:27 am

    I don’t know why LW says that she knows her husband didn’t mean to pass her by. That is an explanation which works once. He’s done this many times. Yes, he totally intended to pass her by and make the decisions unilaterally, because that is what he wanted to do and he knew that she wouldn’t agree with him. His learning from the marriage is that just doing what he wants to do and then asking for forgiveness always works for him, where asking agreement/permission first wouldn’t or would at least be harder.

    There also is something strange about this trampoline deal. Why is the husband so eager to curry favor with the neighborhood kids? He may just miss having kids of his own and not understand the responsibilities involved in supervising safe trampoline play, but this sounds like either arrested development or extremely impulsive behavior which he repeats. Jumping on the trampoline is really going to rev the kids up. Who wants their garden over-run by other peoples’ really revved up kids. It will be loud, it will be rambunctious, it will undoubtedly be beyond his ability to manage.

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    • avatar

      Ron April 18, 2016, 9:29 am

      The liability issue is so stark and so much a part of today’s society that I find it impossible to believe husband is unaware of it. He just doesn’t care. He wants what he wants. Why does he want this so badly?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 18, 2016, 11:05 am

        At least some of the neighborhood parents will jump to the conclusion that he is a pedophile. The question they will ask each other is why else would a man who has no kids put up a trampoline to entice all of the neighborhood kids over. It is a legitimate question. Why does he want this so badly? He has to be getting something out of it.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo April 18, 2016, 9:49 am

    The neighbour kids across the back alley have a trampoline. They and all their little friends bounce on it all day long from about 8 in the morning til 9 at night starting right about now until October or so, shrieking like idiots. (I don’t blame them – they are just being kids and using one of the few things their not-so-wealthy parents have given for their enjoyment.) But it’s a little maddening, even a yard away, without having to supervise or worry about lawsuits. They do fall and get hurt regularly. And you know, it’s not just peace and quiet. The LW WILL have to be supervising the kids every minute she’s home. It’s like a special crazy-making unpaid part-time job Marshall has landed her in. (I actually think Marshall would be way more considerate.) If it’s me, there ain’t enough NO in the English language to veto this.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom April 18, 2016, 9:59 am

      The biggest problems would occur during the day when she and her husband are at work and there would be no one to supervise. All the neighborhood kids and the friends they invite to join them unsupervised in the LWs backyard.

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  • kare

    kare April 18, 2016, 9:53 am

    I’d tell your husband no to the trampoline for all of the reasons mentioned already. If you really don’t want to disappoint the neighborhood kids (who most likely won’t hold a grudge anyways), maybe have a potluck or BBQ with the neighbors and rent a bounce house. Safer than a trampoline and definitely a temporary thing. I feel that if you had a small trampoline or something that was stored in the garage, you’d get bombarded with questions about the trampoline anyways.

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    • avatar

      Gwyneth6 April 18, 2016, 12:34 pm

      Yeah if you want to be the nice guy you can spend some money and be really nice for one day- do not commit to supervising everyday, and do not commit to relinquishing the yard square footage for someone who doesn’t even live with you or pay you anything.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom April 18, 2016, 9:56 am

    Besides the trampoline liability issue your yard would rapidly become the place all the kids find that they can hang out unsupervised during long summer days and after school. That means teens using illegal substances, it means alcohol, it means sex and kids inviting friends over who don’t live in the neighborhood. Your yard would be trashed and that would be the least of it. What do you do when the kid who is six or eight watches a thirteen-year-old perform oral sex on some other underage kid and they go home and tell their parent and their parent is at your front door outraged or with the police?

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  • avatar

    wobster109 April 18, 2016, 10:04 am

    1. Your husband could easily go up to the other dad, apologize, and take responsibility. Then you wouldn’t have to be the bad guy. Of course this would be uncomfortable for him. So he’s decided he cares more about his own comfort than yours.

    2. The issue with the bar is really confusing for me. Like, here’s how I imagine that would go:
    You: “I’m ready to leave. Could you walk home with me please?”
    Him: “I want to stay. I thought you felt fine walking yourself.”
    You: “That’s around the block. We’re farther from home, and I don’t feel safe from here.”
    Him: “Oh ok, that makes sense.”

    But instead, it sounds like this happened:
    You: “I’m ready to leave now.” (Unspoken: please walk me home)
    Him: “Ok, see you later.” (Oblivious, not a mind reader)
    You: “See you.” (Feels hurt)

    You a week later: “You only care when it’s convenient for you!”
    Him: “You said you were fine!” (Reacting defensively because he’s surprised)

    I think your position makes perfect sense, and I think if you’d said it out loud he’d agree too. But you have to say it out loud, or else your husband won’t know what you want. Please consider trying therapy (either couples or individual) to practice communicating your needs.

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    • othy

      othy April 18, 2016, 10:29 am

      I really agree with this – she seems to be having trouble saying one thing and meaning another. Both people in this relationship would really benefit from couples therapy to work on communicating with each other.

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  • avatar

    Essie April 18, 2016, 10:11 am

    @Ron: “His learning from the marriage is that just doing what he wants to do and then asking for forgiveness always works for him, where asking agreement/permission first wouldn’t or would at least be harder.”

    This. Oh, so much this. It’s not malicious, and it’s not just a guy thing, lest anyone think I’m man-bashing. All of us, consciously or unconsciously, try to take the easy route. And for Marshall here, the easy route is getting forgiveness rather than permission. LW, you have trained him very, very well. All he has to do is put up with a little pouting from you, and he can have anything he wants.

    I think marriage counseling would be a big help here, so you both learn a better way of communicating with each other. This is a well-worn path in your marriage, and you’ll probably need the help of an outsider to change it.

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    • avatar

      keyblade April 18, 2016, 11:47 am

      This is so true! I wonder if the husband’s “getting forgiveness rather than permission” shortcut might have relation to the letter writer’s anxiety?

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    • avatar

      Jessibel5 April 19, 2016, 11:56 am

      This! To me it sounds like immaturity and the selfishness that comes with immaturity. Not him acting maliciously. I think even though she’s pointed out the patterns, so far it hasn’t sunk in with him that the patterns are detrimental. Counseling would totally help with this.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom April 18, 2016, 10:12 am

    You need to be direct with your husband. You both seem to think that if he has told someone he will do something that the something will happen, even if that something involves you or your comfort. Just because he has promised something to someone doesn’t mean he gets to go ahead with it. In any instance where it involves both of you, like you ending up supervising kids in your backyard, or something that belongs to both of you, like your yard, he must get your input and agreement before going ahead with his idea. Tell him that anything he agrees to do or promised is provisional until he has run it by you and both of you have talked about it and agreed to it. Tell him that if he fails to talk to you it is not happening unless or until he talks to you. Say he put up a trampoline in your backyard without your prior knowledge, which is what it sounds like he was planning to do. You tell him you didn’t agree to it and go out and drag it to the curb and put a sign on it that says “free” and it will be gone. Don’t go along with his treating you as irrelevant. He will continue to treat you this way as long as you tolerate it. You are tolerating it. He doesn’t care if you are sad for a while because you are so understanding of him not intending to be thoughtless. He almost certainly counts on you being that understanding. If you want this type of unilateral decision making to end you have to end it. You can’t keep getting sad but going along with it. Each time something of this sort happens you have to tell him that he didn’t talk to you, you didn’t agree and it isn’t happening. Do what you need to do to get rid of it or not go along with it or to modify it to something you would enjoy.

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  • avatar

    Vathena April 18, 2016, 10:12 am

    I suspect most of the other comments will say what I immediately thought, which is that this is a liability NIGHTMARE waiting to happen. When one of those kids gets injured on your property, you will be in for a shitload of trouble. Children are injured, paralyzed, killed on trampolines all the time. It’s not much safer than announcing you’re putting in a pool for all the kids to use at any time, supervised or not. If your husband won’t listen to you, have him run this idiot idea by your insurance agent.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom April 18, 2016, 10:22 am

      That’s the reason no family in the neighborhood has a trampoline. No one wants the liability.

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    • avatar

      Vathena April 18, 2016, 11:18 am

      The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding recreational trampoline use altogether: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pediatricians-warn-against-trampoline-use-at-home-citing-injury-risks/ A quick Google search highlights a ton of statistics about home trampoline safety, including that many injuries occur even when an adult is supervising.

      In the broader question of the husband making big decisions without you – stand up for yourself! Of course he’s just going to keep right on doing what he wants to do. Yes, he DOES mean to not think of your feelings every time he does this. You make it easy for him to disregard you entirely. It must have gotten really bad if you think your choices are to either let him walk all over you, or leave him. Communicate! Counseling! Say NO to the trampoline!

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  • othy

    othy April 18, 2016, 10:36 am

    Fun story. When I was 10 or so, I fell off of my neighbor’s trampoline. I seriously injured my knee. However, I’d been trying to talk my parents into get us one for ages, and they were convinced it was ‘too dangerous’. So I didn’t tell them about my knee injury, and I never got it treated. It’s still screwed up, 20 years later, and the docs say there isn’t much they can do now. My neighbors are lucky that a) I never told my folks and b) my parents’ are the sue-happy type, because I imagine that could have been a huge cost for them if I’d bothered to seek immediate treatment (still a huge regret that I never did).

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    • othy

      othy April 18, 2016, 10:41 am

      Hell, even if my parents’ weren’t sue happy, their health insurance may have been. I broke my wrist a couple months back as a result of a fall. I had to fill out mountains of paperwork for my insurance company to verify that they couldn’t sue anyone else so they could get out of covering me (for instance, if I was on an icy, uncleared sidewalk of a neighbor’s house when I fell, my insurance company would go after those homeowners and make them pay for my medical bills).

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  • avatar

    saneinca April 18, 2016, 11:27 am

    LW, you are not wrong to feel ignored in his decision making process.
    If it were me, the moment he puts up the trampoline without my permission, I would take a knife to it. “You destroyed my trampoline ?” “But honey I really did not like it. I hope you don’t mind”

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  • avatar

    keyblade April 18, 2016, 11:32 am

    “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.”

    It is your husband who will have disappointed the kids. He might feel bad about it, but you don’t have take that on. I would request that he keeps you out of it when explaining to his friend that he has changed his mind. He acted out of impulse. That’s unfortunate for him, but remedying the situation is a natural consequence that is often the weight carried those who fail to consider consequence and forget their due diligence to their spouse. I’d give yourself permission not to care. I’d acknowledge that conflict is uncomfortable, your feelings are hurt and you are feeling insecure by how easily and randomly your husband cut you out of the discussion. I’m not sure how much it matters that he didn’t intend to hurt your feelings; they are hurt.

    It can be frustrating to have unresolved communication barriers with a defensive spouse. But while this smarts, I’d urge you to keep perspective. Feel your discomfort, make a plan of action (therapy), but then don’t dwell too long on the details of this blunder. Let it go and focus on all the good things that are within your control. Best.

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy April 18, 2016, 11:44 am

    I would use the homeowners insurance as an excuse to kill the playground. We live in Florida, and our homeowners insurance will skyrocket if we add a trampoline for our kids. And they will find out, our adjusters come out annually and inspect for changes they can rack up more money from. The first time a kid falls and gets hurt, you may be sued- BOTH of you! Then his unilateral decisions will really have a nasty impact on your life!
    *
    Aside from this issue, start standing up for yourself. The more you let him get by with, the more it will continue happening.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy April 18, 2016, 11:54 am

    From the LW:

    Thank you SO MUCH for your reply. I have to let it sink in for a bit. It’s quite scary, actually, to be writing to you 🙂

    I saw I was not clear on the walking home issue. I did feel perfectly safe. I was fine with him staying in the bar and having fun. But the next day I was wondering: what changed? Why was I suddenly “allowed” to walk home alone? He said it was because I had said in the previous weeks that I felt safe. So, that sounded like an explanation at first. And then I started thinking about it, and it didn’t make much sense. I told him that I felt like his attitude towards my safety changed a bit because it was more convenient for him, that way. He admitted it probably was (though fuelled by a couple of beers) and apologized. It did hurt me, though, that he didn’t take my word for it at first. It felt like… I don’t know, maybe as if he’s not taking my word for it, then changing his attitude 180 degrees when it’s convenient. I thought, hell, why didn’t you believe me the last couple of weeks?!
    And God the leaving part, I get it. It sounds so dramatic. But this has become such a depressing pattern in our relationship, that for the last couple of months, I have wondered whether we both wouldn’t be better off without each other. Writing you (and your readers, who have this cut-the-crap-attitude as well) felt like the right thing to do. Also because of these dramatic thoughts.

    I wanted to explain this to you, because it confuses even me when I read it 🙂 Sorry for that confusion.

    Best regards and I will most certainly send you an update.

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    • avatar

      Another Jen April 18, 2016, 1:17 pm

      Hi!
      Your letter reminded me in a lot of ways of marriage to my ex (minus the trampoline thing, which is pretty specific). I’d often have the feeling of, “he’s a nice guy, he’s generous, why do I never feel heard, listened to, valued?” Please consider reading a book called “The Gaslight Effect.” It defines the kind of nice-guy behavior that leaves you continually questioning yourself and doubting your judgement. It also offers insights into leaving vs. staying and how to work on the dynamic when you’re stuck in it.

      Ultimately, my marriage didn’t make it…there were a lot of other factors in play (abuse, addiction, etc). But always feeling in the wrong and wondering if I was making a big deal out of things was incredibly demoralizing. If that’s really all there is, and if your husband is willing to work on the problem, there’s no reason why a couples counselor can’t help you get on a better path. But, I recognize the feeling of wondering if you’re unreasonable, a drama queen, the mean one, etc, and I understand how hard it can be.

      AJ

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  • avatar

    Nico April 18, 2016, 12:50 pm

    Counseling, counseling, more counseling, still no trampoline,
    and then:
    When you leave him, make sure to get your name off the mortgage so when he gets sued, you are not a named party.

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  • avatar

    for_cutie April 18, 2016, 1:20 pm

    Yay for an update from the LW, so soon!

    I am wondering here about the husband’s state of mind. There has to be some unmet need that would motivate him to turn his yard into a community playground. LW, have you asked him why? Does he feel like he always needs to be the ‘good guy’ or the hero? Does he want children around him, if so why? He may be denying your feelings because he feels his have been denied. Couples counseling, per Wendy, will help with communication, but may also bring to the surface some of the reasons behind his selfish decision-making.

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  • avatar

    T April 18, 2016, 1:33 pm

    Sure, the leaving option sounds dramatic, but I get it. This is a case of selfishness. I was in a relationship with someone who was selfish and made unilateral decisions (e.g., volunteering us to walk our neighbor’s dog during a time I was really busy, without telling me, and then something came up for him so I had to do it) — those seem like little things but they really add up and that’s what ended the relationship. You start to feel like you’re just not cared about. I also understood the walking home at night thing. My selfish ex would make a show about being supportive and doing things for me when it was convenient for him, but would drop me like a hot potato when he had something better to do. Here, the guy thought (or at least acted like – maybe to win credit) that she was in danger being alone… and then as soon as it was more convenient to him to let her walk alone he did, regardless of the danger he thought she was in.
    .
    But I agree with everyone. Try the middle ground first. The pattern of letting him apologize and then feeling sympathetic to him, and then he does it all over, is happening because you accept the “apology” (in quotes because he doesn’t truly mean it, or else he would do something to fix this) too easily. And if he makes a unilateral decision, don’t feel bad about unilaterally reversing it. Taking the trampoline away while breezily saying “oops, well it’s done now” may work wonders with a guy who is trained to ignore what you say during the fight/apologize routine.

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  • avatar

    LW April 18, 2016, 5:05 pm

    You (Wendy and all commenters) are all incredible and you have no idea how much your advice is making a difference and really helping me. Or maybe you do have an idea, but it’s waaay more than you think. Thank you so much.

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    • avatar

      mertlej April 19, 2016, 9:40 am

      Please come back and update us once the trampoline thing has been resolved!

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        LW April 19, 2016, 9:54 am

        I absolutely will!

        Link
  • avatar

    dinoceros April 18, 2016, 11:10 pm

    My thoughts about the walking home thing is that if you are trying to do something nice and the person doesn’t appreciate it that much, it makes sense that you’d only do the nice thing when it’s not super inconvenient. My mindset if I were him would be “Why leave my friends early to do a thing she told me she doesn’t need and doesn’t want me to do?” To be honest, I think a lot of guys don’t understand how or when women feel unsafe. So him walking you places may have been a nice gesture but not necessarily because he felt that you were in danger.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom April 19, 2016, 7:09 am

    I think the way to talk to your husband is to tell him that marriage is a partnership. The two of you are supposed to be partners who make joint decisions about all the things that effect both of you. When he makes a unilateral decision he isn’t being a partner. He effectively cuts you out of the partnership. Tell him that from now on you expect to be treated as an equal partner. When he makes unilateral decisions he must realize that they are only ideas or suggestions until the two of you have discussed the issue/item and come to an agreement. His ideas are only tentative, with no commitment to go through with them, until the two of you agree. If he promises something without your knowledge and says he is sorry he only truly means he is sorry if he figures out how to undo what he has said he will do or what he has gone ahead and done. I’m sorry isn’t a blanket statement that allows you to go ahead with your plan. If you are truly sorry you try to repair the harm done. In this case it would be to tell the neighborhood that he is sorry he promised to put up a trampoline but he has realized it wasn’t a good idea. There would be no mention of you in that statement. If he is sorry he tries to make things right. If he goes ahead with his plans he isn’t at all sorry. Actions show the actual motivation, intent and emotion. => Be sure to tell him this. If he is sorry he will behave differently than if he is just saying sorry. You must tell him that if he is sorry he will show you that he is sorry through his actions. Be emphatic. Repeat as often as necessary, “If you are sorry you won’t go through with this.” “If you are sorry you will do everything you can to repair the rift this has caused between us.” If you are sorry you will undo what you have done.” Don’t let his being sorry be his excuse to continue with what he unilaterally decided.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom April 19, 2016, 7:10 am

    I think the way to talk to your husband is to tell him that marriage is a partnership. The two of you are supposed to be partners who make joint decisions about all the things that effect both of you. When he makes a unilateral decision he isn’t being a partner. He effectively cuts you out of the partnership. Tell him that from now on you expect to be treated as an equal partner. When he makes unilateral decisions he must realize that they are only ideas or suggestions until the two of you have discussed the issue/item and come to an agreement. His ideas are only tentative, with no commitment to go through with them, until the two of you agree. If he promises something without your knowledge and says he is sorry he only truly means he is sorry if he figures out how to undo what he has said he will do or what he has gone ahead and done. I’m sorry isn’t a blanket statement that allows you to go ahead with your plan. If you are truly sorry you try to repair the harm done. In this case it would be to tell the neighborhood that he is sorry he promised to put up a trampoline but he has realized it wasn’t a good idea. There would be no mention of you in that statement. If he is sorry he tries to make things right. If he goes ahead with his plans he isn’t at all sorry. Actions show the actual motivation, intent and emotion. => Be sure to tell him this. If he is sorry he will behave differently than if he is just saying sorry. You must tell him that if he is sorry he will show you that he is sorry through his actions. Be emphatic. Repeat as often as necessary, “If you are sorry you won’t go through with this.” “If you are sorry you will do everything you can to repair the rift this has caused between us.” If you are sorry you will undo what you have done.” Don’t let his being sorry be his excuse to continue with what he unilaterally decided.

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