Dear Prudence

Help! My Absent-Minded Husband Forgets Our Plans and Then Blames Me for Being Controlling.

Often they are plans that he originally made!

A woman points angrily at a calendar while a man covers his ears.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus. 

Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Dear Prudence,

I have a low stakes conflict with my husband. We’ve been together for nearly 8 years, married 4, and overall our relationship is wonderful—he’s kind, smart, funny, sexy, and a great and involved dad. But we have this one issue that we come back to again and again: He has a terrible memory. It’s probably one-part childhood trauma (he had an emotionally abusive monster for a father, thankfully deceased now) and one part personality—he rocks the absent-minded professor vibe. But the issue is we’ll often make a decision together, and then he COMPLETELY FORGETS ABOUT IT.

Advertisement

The most recent: On a Saturday, we made plans for the next day. The city we live in was hosting a multi-phase street fair, and we decided to go to one part in the afternoon and another part in the evening. The afternoon part was mostly due to his interest, but I thought it looked fun too, so we were all looking forward to it. Come Sunday morning, he mentions that since we’re not doing anything that afternoon, how about we take our kid to the playground? I told him we’d literally just made plans for the day. He’d forgotten, fine, I just reminded him. Except he then implied that we always do what I want to do, which made me see red, since it was his plan to begin with. And in fact, he’s usually the plan instigator! This dynamic works for us, as he’s great at coming up with fun plans, and I’m terrible at decision making. It just drives me bananas that he’ll act like such a martyr about this when we’re usually going along with his ideas in the first place. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, except I feel like I’m being gaslit, even though it’s not intentional.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Any ideas for us to develop a better way of dealing with this?

— Conflicting Memories

Dear Conflicting,

First stop: His doctor’s office. This kind of forgetfulness is not normal, and it’s not a personality trait. If you do rule out a medical reason for his behavior, enlist a therapist to help him understand how this is affecting you and to give him some tools (like writing things down! Or using a calendar app! Or post-it notes, or any of the thousands of tricks people who are considerate use to keep track of plans with others) to improve.

Dear Prudence,

My best friend recently moved from our hometown to the city I live in. I was so excited to have her close by again, and I happily introduced her to my friends on a night out. It didn’t go well. She has really bad social anxiety and anxiety in general, and I think the whole thing kind of overwhelmed her. We also went to a nightclub, and she’s more of a dive bar kind of girl, so she wasn’t really into the club scene. She tried to pretend to be having a good time but it was kind of obvious that she wasn’t.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Now we have a party coming up, and my friends don’t want me to invite her because she’s “boring” and “not fun.” I think my best friend is really fun, under the right circumstances, and she’d love a party that’s smaller and less overwhelming than a nightclub. She’s also worried that my other friends don’t like her. My friends are really pushing me to not invite her, but she’s my best friend! What should I do?

— It’s My Party

Dear It’s My Party,

Advertisement

You won’t be doing your friend any favors by inviting her to a party where she’s not wanted. It sounds like your original friend group might actually be unkind to her, which would only make her anxiety worse. Speaking of your original friend group: These don’t sound like great people. It’s fine if they don’t click with her, but to exclude her from a group event simply for being “boring” is petty. It’s not as if she harmed anyone or would interfere with their ability to have a good time. Maybe they’re jealous that there’s someone else in your life? Either way, if it comes down to choosing between your best friend and the other friends, pick the person who has been in your life longer and hasn’t been a jerk.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Dear Prudence,

My husband of five years came out as gay last year. We have separated and are going to get a divorce. I am … doing as well as I can? The problem—OK, not the only problem, obviously, but the one I don’t know how to navigate—is the “how are you doing” question. I mean, I am currently dealing with a lot! I hope Sam has a good life, I am pissed off that he used me to get here, I am relieved that some of the problems in our relationship make sense now, I am glad his parents didn’t react like he feared, and I am mad that he cheated on me so he got a head start on his new life and looks like he is winning the divorce. I know that isn’t a thing, but his life is just so much more together than mine right now. So, when people ask how I am doing, what should I say? If I sound too devastated it seems to imply that I am open to some barely veiled homophobia (I am not, Sam behaved badly to me in some ways but A: he isn’t all LGBT+ people and, B: scared people do stuff). On the other hand, if I sound even slightly positive, people seem to think I was thrilled to be part of his hero’s journey. I just want to be sad my marriage ended and hope that Sam’s sexuality will eventually just be a footnote.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

—O.K.-Adjacent

Dear O.K.,

Try something as close to the truth as you can manage: “This isn’t what I expected my life to look like and I’m having lots of complicated feelings about my marriage ending. But of course I wish Sam the best, and I know I’ll be okay eventually.”

Catch up on this week’s Prudie.

More Advice From Pay Dirt

My partner grew up poor, while I grew up more middleclass. He has always controlled all our finances, and spends hours monthly on budgeting and checking bills, credit cards, etc. I’ve never known anybody who obsesses like this. All income, including gifts, goes to the joint account, and I have to keep receipts for everything I buy, down to a coffee, so he can record and check it. We have a fairly big (but manageable) mortgage, and our child has added many more costs to our lives, but otherwise we’re OK. I was very young when we got together, and I went along because I didn’t know anything else. Recently, I’ve started to hate it. I hate that he checks anything I buy. I hate that he says it has to be this way because there’s nothing extra. I understand the way his insecure upbringing shaped him, but anytime I ask about doing things differently, I end up feeling scolded, unreasonable, and frivolous. I can’t see a solution. Maybe you can?

Advertisement