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To think he could own up to making an actual decision?

(141 Posts)
riverriver Tue 27-Jan-15 09:54:51

A bit of background: I've been ill and told DH I wouldn't be cooking dinners, and we agreed to get take away for a couple days, which he would drive out and get. But then DH got ill too, but not as bad as me (I wasn't able to stand or even sit for more than a few minutes at time, he'd been sitting up all day). Here's an approximate transcript of our conversation the other night:

Me: "DH, are you feeling up to driving for take away tonight?"
DH: "I dunno."
Me: "If not, I could make myself some soup and help you put on some fish sticks. But I can't do much more than that, so you'd have to help cook your dinner."
DH: silence
Me (after a while): "DH? We need to talk about dinner. Are you up to getting take way or should we cook?"
[cycle through the last two lines a few times, until...]
DH: "I'm feeling pretty bad. I just can't think."
Me: "Shall I start some fish sticks for you? Or would you like something else?"
DH: "I could probably get take away."
Me (getting frustrated): "Could probably? Can you or can't you? I'm not going to tell you to get take away when you feel bad, because I can't make the decision of whether or not you can drive. You have to do that. Just say you can or can't. What's so hard about that?" [pretty sure I went overboard here blush especially with that last sentence, but I'm frustrated from this repeating pattern]
DH: "If you want me to, I could go get take away."
Me: "Just tell me if you can. I'm not going to tell you to do it because I want you to. I won't be the one to make this decision."
DH (after a long silence): "So, if I were to get take away, what I should I get?"
We then discuss what to get and he goes and gets takeaway. AIBU to expect him to be able to actually own up to making the decision himself?

This is a repeating pattern. If ever there is a decision where the options are he sacrifices versus puts his own interests first, he just refuses to make a strong statement. It feels like he is making me make the decision, so then it is me who has decided he goes without or gets what he wants.

Another example is a recent row we had over TV. We normally watch a recorded TV show after I put DD to bed and have my bath. So I come out from my bath to find him about 30 minutes from the end of a movie. Thinking he might prefer to finish watching the movie, I ask, "Shall we watch a show, or would you like to finish watching that? I can do MN something else until it's over."

DH: "Whatever you want."
Me: "I'm happy either way."
DH: "Do you want to watch a show now?"
Me: "I really have no opinion."
DH: "The movie is on record."
Me (confused): "So, do you want to stop watching it now? I'd be happy to watch something with you."
DH (angry): "Stop making me guess what you want!"
Me (angry): "I don't want anything! I really have no opinion! Do you want to watch the movie or not?"
[and an argument takes off]
I eventually just walked away hiding tears and nearly posted a very angry post on MN, but calmed down. And he watched the end of the movie.

It does seem connected with when he has a desire, but as I can't always guess what the desire is, it is confusing. Just a few nights ago we had the TV conversation that went very differently (same set-up, DH about 30 minutes from the end of the movie):

Me (trying a different question, hoping it will help): "Are you absorbed in this movie, such that you'd like to see the end?"
DH: "Not really. It wasn't as good as I'd heard."
Me: "So you'd be happy to watch something with me now?"
DH: "Yes."
We then watch a show. No further drama.

I'd like to discuss this with DH, as it is getting very frustrating for me to feel like I am always the one to 'make' him sacrifice or decide he 'can' have a treat. But before I do, I wanted to check and make sure it isn't me. Am I being overbearing? Should I have just taken "I could probably" as a "Yes" and gone from there? Was it inappropriate for me to demand he take a stance? Would my second movie question have worked the first night? Or, at least, should I try more things like that -- asking directly about if he's having fun versus is he willing to sacrifice?

Sorry this is so long. (Oh, and namechange because I'm bit embarrassed about asking this, and because DH might know my username...)

DoJo Tue 27-Jan-15 10:13:00

Honestly - it sounds as though you are both guilty of the same thing, from this snapshot.

In the first scenario, it sounds like you would prefer a takeaway as otherwise you could just have made yourself soup and left your husband to sort out what he wants.

In the second scenario, it sounds like you are suggesting that he pause the film to watch the show, but you don't want to actually ask him to. It would be a fairly unusual situation for someone to actively want to stop watching a film half an hour before the end, but he sounds like he was happy to do so if you wanted him to. You insisting that you have no opinion seems incompatible with your continued questioning about how engaged he is in the film or whether he wants to carry on watching it.

It sounds to me like neither of you want to take responsibility for making a decision, perhaps because you are ill or perhaps because you genuinely don't mind. But if you expect him to believe that you genuinely don't mind on some occasions, then you have to allow him the same. My husband and I have a tendency to do the same, but we do recognise this and try to just make a decision without wasting 20 minutes talking about who is going to do it now!

If you reach an impasse where you are both perfectly happy to do either of the options, flip and coin and stop going back and forth on the matter as it sounds as though making the decision is the hard part rather than who actually gets their own way (or even if either of you have a dog in the fight at all!).

CeartGoLeor Tue 27-Jan-15 10:35:19

Honestly, OP, this reads as if you are 'mothering' your husband in a smothering way, as if he were a small child dithering about putting on his wellies. Stop micro-managing him!

You were ill - why on earth would he need your help to take fishfingers out of the freezer? And if you wanted a takeaway, why not just say 'please get me a channa masala, if you're going'? And if he had watched two thirds of a film, why not assume he was going to watch the rest unless he specifically said 'This is dull, let's watch something else'? It sounds like a passive-aggressive way of trying to get to watch something you want.

Why do you take it upon yourself to need to second-guess his wishes? If his indecisiveness is irritating you, acknowledge that you have partly created the problem, and step aside. Stop hovering over his most minor decisions!

Do you (as with some friends of friends who on de stayed with us when we were all in our 20s) also ask him if he needs to wee before you go on a car journey?

riverriver Tue 27-Jan-15 10:36:45

Flip a coin! What a great idea! I may use that next time this comes up. It may make things more clear that I really don't care.

The thing is, when I have a desire, I do say it. I didn't write out those conversations because they aren't the ones that drive me mad. When I express I desire, he simply does what I want. This is why I really try to avoid expressing a desire that impacts negatively on him when I in fact don't have a desire. Otherwise he just always does what I want, and it is up to me to guess when he can have something or not.

Take away case: I could make some soup, and would be happy to. But I know that he dislikes making food. I couldn't tell if his illness was so great that driving would be so difficult that he would rather cook for himself or not. And I didn't want to be the one to tell him to go out if he felt so bad driving might be dangerous.

TV case: I know you'd expect someone to want to continue watching a film! But often enough (like TV case 2) he isn't invested and has been visiting Facebook/message boards/etc throughout the movie and isn't really paying attention. So the fact that a movie is on isn't a clue as to whether or not he wants to continue watching it. And I really would be happy to MN until the movie was over, but I didn't want to make that assumption, as I know he looks forward to watching our shows in the evening.

In TV case 1, if he had said "I'd like to watch the movie" that would have been the end of it. My question in TV case 2 did require an extra question (after confirming that he was not invested in the show, I then needed to make sure he was happy to stop it, so that required a second question). So perhaps that isn't a good way? Although had he said, "Yes, I'm very into it." I would have gone on to do something else.

I suppose I could take a wishy-washy answer as a clue that he does in fact have a desire, but like in the take-away case, I'm not sure what it is. He could feel so bad that the thought of driving is worrying him, or it could be that he'd rather not cook and would rather simply go get food elsewhere. I can't tell if he won't tell me!

It is interesting that from the transcripts you thought I had a desire but just wasn't stating it, as that is what he says too. But sometimes I really don't, and I don't know how to get that across. That's where I'm thinking the coin flip is a good idea...

riverriver Tue 27-Jan-15 10:42:03

ceart - because if I didn't take them out of the freezer, he probably wouldn't eat. And then get grumpy and unpleasant because he's hungry. So I try to push him into eating.

I do feel like I'm mothering him, but when he doesn't eat he isn't a nice person, so that's one thing where I really want to make sure he gets his food.

The reason I'm trying to second-guess his wishes is that I feel like otherwise I'm just walking all over him. I really want him to be able to have an opinion and express it at times. These are times when I (1) didn't have an opinion and (2) thought he might. I could just take over and decide what to do then, too, but that really doesn't seem right. How can I always make the decisions? He must have some opinions, sometimes, right?

OFrabjousDay Tue 27-Jan-15 10:43:27

God, reading that was like sitting with my parents again. If you thought he might want to finish watching the film and were happy for him to do so, why the hell didn't you just get on with something else while he did. By asking him 'shall we watch the show', you gave him a very clear message that you thought he should stop what he was doing, while also saying, 'no, no, no, whatever you want, really. I'm fine'. Very confusing.

If you are consistently clear with what you want, and refuse to second guess what he wants, then you will give the message that he has to be clear or he won't get what he wants, until then you will be stuck in second-guessing hell.

OfaFrenchMind Tue 27-Jan-15 10:46:47

Oh my. Either you are his mum, or you are both 85. I cannot see another setup.

queenofwesteros Tue 27-Jan-15 10:50:26

I'm aghast at the notion that if you can't cook, then it's either takeway or starvation. What's wrong with your manbaby husband getting off his backside to cook? And yes, I know he was ill but not incapable of rustling up beans on toast, surely??
You sound like you're parenting a 3-year-old. 3-year-olds sometimes need "pushed into eating". It's not something I'd put up with in a fully-grown adult, I'm afraid.
I think you both have some adjusting to do in your relationship.

CeartGoLeor Tue 27-Jan-15 10:51:01

Jesus, OP. Step back! This makes unbelievably claustrophobic reading. You need to take responsibility for having in part created this situation, and stop hovering over his every decision. So what if he 'doesn't like making food' - he's an able-bodied adult and a parent. It's not your vocation to keep his blood sugar at an acceptable level, or save him the stress of making a slice of toast!

Second-guessing him or 'walking all over him' aren't the only two options in a relationship between two adults! You don't need to make his decisions for him - make your own decisions (heat your soup, go off and read for the last half hour of the film etc) and let him make his, or deal with the consequences of not making one.

riverriver Tue 27-Jan-15 10:51:49

But what do I say? More often than not, he actually doesn't want to watch to the end of the film.

I am taking it on board that both you and he think I do have a desire, when I don't. I don't know how to indicate that I don't have a desire.

How do I refuse to second guess? Do I just make statements, and see if he objects:

"You're ill too, so I assume you don't want to get takeaway. I'll go make myself some soup and put some fishsticks on for you. You'll have to get them out when they're done."

"I see you're watching a movie. I'll go do something else."

The thing is, for the take away one, I know his response: it would be: "I could probably get take away if you want me to." How do I respond to that? Do I say I want him to? Say I don't? It would now sound to me like he does want take away. And he's now pushed the decision onto me.

confusedandemployed Tue 27-Jan-15 10:51:50

I kind of know where you're coming from. DP is incapable of making a decision. I remember once we went to visit DSS (lives at the other end of the country). He was about 14 at the time. We traipsed around this bloody town, I asked both of them what they fancied doing COUNTLESS times, only to be told by both of them, "Dunno really". So it was left to me to get a list of attractions, pick one and get us all there. I was ready to throttle the pair of them.
But I have learnt - if he starts up with his "I don't mind"s I take him at his word and do what I want.

ThereIsIron Tue 27-Jan-15 10:53:13

If it were me it would have went like ...

Me: "DH, are you feeling up to driving for take away tonight?"
DH: "I dunno."
Me: ... <goes and makes myself soup>

So I come out from my bath to find him about 30 minutes from the end of a movie. Thinking he might prefer to finish watching the movie, <so I go and do something else>

Only1scoop Tue 27-Jan-15 10:57:08

Sounds so intense....hideously routine....

We normally watch a recorded programme after my bath then '30 mins after my bath' etc etc.

Warm your soup if your hungry....leave him to his 'fish sticks' if he's hungry....

Take it the take away doesn't deliver.

OFrabjousDay Tue 27-Jan-15 10:57:46

"I see you're watching a movie. I'll go do something else."

That's perfectly fine. It's then up to him to say, well actually, it's not great, let's watch xxxx.

For the takeaway, you have to decide yourself exactly how much you want a takeaway. If you really want it, you say, do you mind going to get a takeaway? And leave it at that. It's then up to him to say, you know, I don't think I can drive. (Ideally at this point he would offer to cook something for the both of you, but this seems a step too far at this point!)

ahbollocks Tue 27-Jan-15 11:01:18

Dh is like this so I basically do whatever I want. Thing is he is happy to be told whats going on because he's usuallyknackered from a demanding job so he just wants to eat whats put in front of him and watch what ive told him is on!
If your dh is like mine then just crack with whatever you want. If hes a sulky fucker then again jusy do what you want until he tells you otherwise

CeartGoLeor Tue 27-Jan-15 11:03:31

OP, I can't decide if you genuinely don't see what everyone is saying, or if you're taking the mickey! Stop making those passive-aggressive-sounding statements that are all about what you think he wants but actually sound as if you're saying you want a takeaway and to watch something else!

'Could you heat me some soup if you're having some yourself?' Please tell me that you do not need to tell the dimmest adult that he needs to take his own fishfingers off the grill.

In the TV situation, no conversation is needed at all! In fact, most of these conversations aren't necessary - if he doesn't mind, just do what you want.

riverriver Tue 27-Jan-15 11:05:19

But I suffer if he doesn't eat. He gets snippy and angry and randomly accuses me of being unhappy with him. I don't like that, so I want him to eat.

I wish there was a middle ground between second-guessing and walking over him. But if I just do what I want, he never, ever expresses a desire. That can't possibly be healthy, can it?

Should I talk with him, or should I just change my behaviour? Do you think if I really just randomly picked something as soon as he gave a wishy-washy answer, it would encourage him to stand up for himself?

I was actually thinking of making it clear I didn't care by saying, "Okay then, I'll flip a coin. Heads you get take away, tails we cook."

SaucyJack Tue 27-Jan-15 11:06:11

Why ask him five different questions over whether he wants to watch the end of a film if you're quite happy to do something else? He's a grown man in his own home- just leave him to it. If he actively wanted to turn the film off then he would've.

I'm exhausted just reading it.

Have said that- there's no excuse for him to get shitty if he can't be arsed to feed himself. He isn't 3. You need to stop treating him as tho he is- but he also needs to stop acting it.

corkybolleaux Tue 27-Jan-15 11:07:57

Fish sticks??

OFrabjousDay Tue 27-Jan-15 11:08:07

The thing is, for the take away one, I know his response: it would be: "I could probably get take away if you want me to."

So you say, that's great, thanks, I'll have...

Until you trust him to tell you how he really feels about things, he is not going to trust you to tell him how you really feel, and will send any decisions back your way. It's that simple.

kaykayred Tue 27-Jan-15 11:08:09

Not trying to be brutal here, but you come across as very overbearing and passive aggressive. There's no reason why your husband should have to make an immediate decision about something just because you demand to have an answer straight away.

Why couldn't you have just said "I'm not up to cooking for the two of us, so I'm just going to shove some soup on. Can you sort out your own food when your ready?" Response "Sure". End of discussion.

If he starts getting moody through lack of food then you say "you're getting grumpy - I think you need to eat something". That's it.

Likewise all this bullshit over tv programmes - you come out the shower and then basically demand an immediate response about what you want. Why couldn't you have just said "Can we watch a programme together when your movie has finished?" End of discussion. If he isn't bothered about finishing it then he says "yeah, we can put something on now if you like, the film is shit anyway".

Even your "good" outcome comes across as incredibly manipulative

"Is this show adequately engrossing such that you want to see the end" is basically saying "Can we watch something else". Why bother with all the passive sub text? It's so completely unnecessary.

Why not just say "Are you watching this?" if he says "yes" then you say "okay, can you let me know when it's finished so we can watch something together afterwards?" if he says "no" then say "can we watch something together then?"

Stop faffing around demanding that the world turns according to your own convenience! He's an adult! He doesn't need you to ask pointed questions in order to tell you if he is thinking something. By raising issues like this it is hugely obvious to everyone else (except you apparently!) that you DO have an opinion. Otherwise you wouldn't have raised it!!!

OFrabjousDay Tue 27-Jan-15 11:09:55

But I suffer if he doesn't eat. He gets snippy and angry and randomly accuses me of being unhappy with him. I don't like that, so I want him to eat.

a) tell him to sod off and get something to eat because he's always grumpy when he's hungry

b) I don't blame him for thinking you're unhappy with him!

ImperialBlether Tue 27-Jan-15 11:14:36

What are fishsticks?

LurkingHusband Tue 27-Jan-15 11:16:34

Bit of deja vu reading this ... in my situation, we (MrsLH and I) went through a phase, in the beginning, where her suggesting a "choice" was no such thing (I wasn't massively experienced in relationships). It was a "subtly" coded instruction that I should actually choose what MrsLH wanted.

Being male of course, the subtlety escaped me grin. Even the "Oh" followed by a pause and then "are you sure ?".

Took me a while to fathom what was going on. Finally it dawned on me, and we had to have a bit of a "one thing that REALLY PISSES ME OFF" conversation. I called it the "no choice choice".

Touch wood, we're both much better. Turns out I sometimes did the same smile. Although casual conversation with various couples we know suggests it's something that women do to men more than vice versa.

YoullLikeItNotaLot Tue 27-Jan-15 11:16:38

I have no patience & this kind of thing bugs me no end.

My DH will faff about for ages before making a decision. I have said to him "if you are finding it so hard to decide then there is obviously very little difference or the choice would be obvious so just pick"

I can't be doing with umming and arring particularly over things that don't matter such as whether to go to one restaurant or another, one tv programme or another.

Stop playing along with it, but also, if you have a clear preference, say you do or you're just as bad!

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