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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I’ve noticed over the years that my spouse comes up with a lot of “we need to”, “we should”, “I want” ideas. Some good, some I could go either way. She feels connected “dreaming together.”

So what normally happens is, I indulge her and eventually she gets me to “yes” and I start knocking out the planning, the problem solving and execution. She then tunes out. She’s there for the shopping and when I tell her what I’m gonna do she says “have fun” and does something else (errands, stuff with kids) while I’m alone. When I try to connect afterwards by discussing everything that happened her responses are mostly“thanks babe”, “that sucks babe” and the conversation ends.

So basically she likes me playing along with her stuff and either disappears for mine or has no interest. She also never really seems to have a plan.

Now she wants to discuss a new house which I know will be death by a million details leaving the planning, problem solving and heavy lifting to me. So far her contribution is an idea and she got a job. Basically I see a lot of her showing up to discuss without any homework done. With her new job I feel this would the same as before: good idea fairy -> pass off -> enjoy finished efforts.

My question is how do I not accept the task of making it happen but not come off as aloof, unconcerned about it or playing “I have a secret”? I connect over problem solving but at this point I feel like the nerd constantly doing the cheerleader’s science project for her and she has no interesting in discussion the science project, just that it’s done.


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Tell her when she gets the finances arranged and picks some houses for viewing to let you know and you will have a look at them with her.
Remember she can only treat you like a fool if you let her.
 

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Got to go along with Andy. You need to tell her you're tired of being the one who has to execute her unresearched plans and if she wants to get anything done going forward, she needs to spend time researching and getting specific before she even brings it to you. All you should discuss right now on a house is budget and location convenient to both of you.
 
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She sees herself as the idea person and you as the little guy down there in the trenches making her plans reality. She’s happy to have you play nerd to her cheerleader so she may not thank you for bringing the imbalance to her attention, however tactfully you try to do it. But it does need to be done.
 

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I will add that you really should have started her taking responsibility on something small, though. I mean, she'll get carried away about a house.
 
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My question is how do I not accept the task of making it happen but not come off as aloof, unconcerned about it or playing “I have a secret”? I connect over problem solving but at this point I feel like the nerd constantly doing the cheerleader’s science project for her and she has no interesting in discussion the science project, just that it’s done.
Agree to everything she suggests, but never get around to acting on her ideas.
 

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So I’ve noticed over the years that my spouse comes up with a lot of “we need to”, “we should”, “I want” ideas. Some good, some I could go either way. She feels connected “dreaming together.”

So what normally happens is, I indulge her and eventually she gets me to “yes” and I start knocking out the planning, the problem solving and execution. She then tunes out. She’s there for the shopping and when I tell her what I’m gonna do she says “have fun” and does something else (errands, stuff with kids) while I’m alone. When I try to connect afterwards by discussing everything that happened her responses are mostly“thanks babe”, “that sucks babe” and the conversation ends.

So basically she likes me playing along with her stuff and either disappears for mine or has no interest. She also never really seems to have a plan.

Now she wants to discuss a new house which I know will be death by a million details leaving the planning, problem solving and heavy lifting to me. So far her contribution is an idea and she got a job. Basically I see a lot of her showing up to discuss without any homework done. With her new job I feel this would the same as before: good idea fairy -> pass off -> enjoy finished efforts.

My question is how do I not accept the task of making it happen but not come off as aloof, unconcerned about it or playing “I have a secret”? I connect over problem solving but at this point I feel like the nerd constantly doing the cheerleader’s science project for her and she has no interesting in discussion the science project, just that it’s done.
Sounds like she does a pretty good job of winding you up to keep you out of her hair.
 

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There’s a different between being a plow horse and a leader.
It sounds like you are doing the former, and you need to be the latter.

On one hand, you’re the man so there is an expectation that you will operationalize and execute things - and that’s fine.

That said, it sounds like she comes up with ideas that she wants, and you just agree and end up assuming all further actions, and get upset that you’re being treated like a plow horse. That’s on you.

Leading doesn’t mean doing - it does but it also means establishing the objective, timetable, responsibilities/actions and owners.
That’s your job. You need to establish all that, including what help you need / expect from your wife in the process if you’re going to move forward.

And if she fails to complete her actions, you remind her, and if she sticks doesn’t do her part, you stop the project until she does or until you reevaluate a revised course of action.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I think some of the plow horse-thing is true because I was doing it as a covert contract and have gotten rid of that mindset. I would also add that she’s absent from most projects/plans I initiate/lead.

Frankly, a lot of the stuff she asks for is more QoL upgrades I am indifferent about. Another poster mentioned agreeing but not doing anything without an actionable plan from her and that sounds like a plan. I need to make sure she knows the balls in her court.

Earlier today she told me what she wanted yet couldn’t quantify a time frame, budget, or project scope. It’s like she wants a feeling more than something tangible.


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Frankly, a lot of the stuff she asks for is more QoL upgrades I am indifferent about. Another poster mentioned agreeing but not doing anything without an actionable plan from her and that sounds like a plan. I need to make sure she knows the balls in her court.
You mustn't ever state 'doing nothing' is your plan as that will cause confrontation.
Avoid all confrontation, agree to everything, never 'progress' anything you don't want to do.

It took me a year to learn to say 'yes', when I mean 'no'.
It took me even longer to 'not act' on the 'yes'.
And eventually when all your excuses for 'no action' have failed, let it be someone else taking the fall for saying 'no' to her.
 

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I think some of the plow horse-thing is true because I was doing it as a covert contract and have gotten rid of that mindset. I would also add that she’s absent from most projects/plans I initiate/lead.

Frankly, a lot of the stuff she asks for is more QoL upgrades I am indifferent about. Another poster mentioned agreeing but not doing anything without an actionable plan from her and that sounds like a plan. I need to make sure she knows the balls in her court.

Earlier today she told me what she wanted yet couldn’t quantify a time frame, budget, or project scope. It’s like she wants a feeling more than something tangible.


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I'm a little confused.

These ideas she has... how do you know exactly what she wants if she peaces out immediately? Something like purchasing a home, she literally does not attend showings with you, is not involved in any of the choices or moving and just shows up on move in day?

Why do you jump at her ideas if you don't share similar enthusiasm over them? It is OK to fantasize about things but never actually do them. We fantasize about leaving our jobs and traveling the world for an unspecified amount of time but that doesn't mean either of us goes into work and quits our job.

Does she actually say to you that she expects you to do these things for her and that she does not want to be involved? Some people are not leaders and expect or need to be told very specifically what to do in every step. Is she like that? If you delegate half of the work to her for a project of hers, would she do it?


It’s like she wants a feeling more than something tangible.


This could be true. I am one of those people who likes to think out loud but it doesn't mean I expect action over everything that I brainstorm about. Is she the type to never be satisfied?

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You mustn't ever state 'doing nothing' is your plan as that will cause confrontation.
Avoid all confrontation, agree to everything, never 'progress' anything you don't want to do.

It took me a year to learn to say 'yes', when I mean 'no'.
It took me even longer to 'not act' on the 'yes'.
And eventually when all your excuses for 'no action' have failed, let it be someone else taking the fall for saying 'no' to her.
I agree!
@aaarghdub unfortunately some people need to be treated like children, and use children tactics on them, your wife is one of them!
 

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So I’ve noticed over the years that my spouse comes up with a lot of “we need to”, “we should”, “I want” ideas. Some good, some I could go either way. She feels connected “dreaming together.”

So what normally happens is, I indulge her and eventually she gets me to “yes” and I start knocking out the planning, the problem solving and execution. She then tunes out. She’s there for the shopping and when I tell her what I’m gonna do she says “have fun” and does something else (errands, stuff with kids) while I’m alone. When I try to connect afterwards by discussing everything that happened her responses are mostly“thanks babe”, “that sucks babe” and the conversation ends.

So basically she likes me playing along with her stuff and either disappears for mine or has no interest. She also never really seems to have a plan.

Now she wants to discuss a new house which I know will be death by a million details leaving the planning, problem solving and heavy lifting to me. So far her contribution is an idea and she got a job. Basically I see a lot of her showing up to discuss without any homework done. With her new job I feel this would the same as before: good idea fairy -> pass off -> enjoy finished efforts.

My question is how do I not accept the task of making it happen but not come off as aloof, unconcerned about it or playing “I have a secret”? I connect over problem solving but at this point I feel like the nerd constantly doing the cheerleader’s science project for her and she has no interesting in discussion the science project, just that it’s done.


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My wife often comes up with project ideas and It is on me to plan it all out, but she is right there when we go out to get any needed material and she is right there when the work is going on. Sometimes it is beyond her ability to do much, but she will be there to do whatever she can. If she is truly just standing around she will go do something more productive.

I think you need to be straight up with your wife that you are willing to work on a project, but you need her help. Have you ever tried something as simple as asking her questions while planning? Or asked to to help with the project. I get the impression you are hoping she would just jump in. Maybe she doesn't work that way. Communication is an absolute must in a marriage.

Couple other questions. How old are you guys? Married how long? How many kids and ages? Is everything else okay in your marriage?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Have you ever tried something as simple as asking her questions while planning? Or asked to to help with the project. I get the impression you are hoping she would just jump in. Maybe she doesn't work that way.
I usually ask a lot of questions or “what about” or “how do you plan to…” kind of questions regardless of the subjects. To me it shows engagement. She usually takes offense in that it appears I’m attacking her idea.

I can only guess she feels extremely insecure when she wants to be in charge but then actually has to figure it out and realizes she has no idea what she’s doing so she cuts and runs.

WRT her “big ask” is that she wants a big place where our kids and grandkids and friends all want to come back to visit and hangout. Like a family estate but just a big house. Cool idea.

I asked…
when… dunno
how big a place… dunno
where… dunno
how much do you think we need to save.. dunno
How much leveraging are you comfortable with… dunno
How much do think our bills will go up… dunno
Do you think our monthly cash flow can support it now or if I lose my job… dunno

At this point I quit asking questions.

I think I’d be down with this if she would have said something like “I was looking at the spreadsheets of our finances you send me every month and I think this is how we can get there. pulls up laptop.

Again not looking to bash her just gently put the ball in her court.


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Of course she doesn’t know. Her pattern is that she wants something and you make it happen. Why would a big house be any different.
 

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I think I’d be down with this if she would have said something like “I was looking at the spreadsheets of our finances you send me every month and I think this is how we can get there. pulls up laptop.
I always feel it's a mistake to show your wife/partner details of your finances.
It's not something they need to know, if your finances are a disaster they'll look to upgrade you, if your finances are amazing they'll start spending more money.
 
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I always feel it's a mistake to show your wife/partner details of your finances.
It's not something they need to know, if your finances are a disaster they'll look to upgrade you, if your finances are amazing they'll start spending more money.
Many marriages, like mine and as I think it should be, have fully combined finances. We have no separate accounts. I make nearly 10x what my wife makes and it hasn't made her go on a spending spree. Actually I sometimes have to convince her to buy certain things. So, I don't think you point is universally true.

I usually ask a lot of questions or “what about” or “how do you plan to…” kind of questions regardless of the subjects. To me it shows engagement. She usually takes offense in that it appears I’m attacking her idea.

I can only guess she feels extremely insecure when she wants to be in charge but then actually has to figure it out and realizes she has no idea what she’s doing so she cuts and runs.

WRT her “big ask” is that she wants a big place where our kids and grandkids and friends all want to come back to visit and hangout. Like a family estate but just a big house. Cool idea.

I asked…
when… dunno
how big a place… dunno
where… dunno
how much do you think we need to save.. dunno
How much leveraging are you comfortable with… dunno
How much do think our bills will go up… dunno
Do you think our monthly cash flow can support it now or if I lose my job… dunno

At this point I quit asking questions.

I think I’d be down with this if she would have said something like “I was looking at the spreadsheets of our finances you send me every month and I think this is how we can get there. pulls up laptop.

Again not looking to bash her just gently put the ball in her court.


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First off, I think you need to look at the positive side of this. You have a wife that has her mind on a long future with you and her in it, including grandkids. That is a great thing!

This seems like a communication issue to me. Have you tried telling her this is a great idea, but you need help making it happen? That you think it will be better if you both work on it together? After all those dunnos it is okay to say this is too big for me to decide alone, we need to do this together. If you don't tell her you want her help she may never assume you need it. She seems to have complete confidence in your abilities.

I can tell you my wife would never pull up a spreadsheet like you mention. She doesn't have that skill set. She would come to me just as your wife did, with an idea. Does your wife even have the knowledge and ability to do what you suggest? Are you expecting your wife to do something she just isn't capable of. There are lots of ideas my wife comes up with knowing full well she can't do it herself. Bringing her idea to me is basically her asking for my opinion and my help. Your wife may be doing the same thing, but you should make it clear that you will be working on the project together and you want and need her help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
After all those dunnos it is okay to say this is too big for me to decide alone, we need to do this together. If you don't tell her you want her help she may never assume you need it. She seems to have complete confidence in your abilities.

I can tell you my wife would never pull up a spreadsheet like you mention. She doesn't have that skill set. She would come to me just as your wife did, with an idea. Does your wife even have the knowledge and ability to do what you suggest? Are you expecting your wife to do something she just isn't capable of. There are lots of ideas my wife comes up with knowing full well she can't do it herself. Bringing her idea to me is basically her asking for my opinion and my help. Your wife may be doing the same thing, but you should make it clear that you will be working on the project together and you want and need her help.
The “dunno’s” were her responses to my questions.

She has told how great a business woman she is but never really handled the business part of her private practice. If you can go on Redfin and find a house and see the price and you have access to the current financials what kind of skills are you talking about that are required?

This is how much it would cost, this how
much we have and bring in, this is what it would cost to sell the current house and go from there. The info is there she just doesn’t look at it, I don’t think that’s a skill issue.


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