DEAR CAROLYN: I'm married to a kind, funny, cute man with an Ivy League Ph.D. We have two thriving young children and two thriving, demanding careers.
I do all the planning of our lives. Children's playdates, their afterschool and summer activities, booking child care, birthday parties, date nights, social plans with friends, vacations and travel, religious holidays.
I am tired of this. Mainly of the emotional burden of getting buy-in from him and the girls, which consists of quizzing to find out their preferences, trying to meet them, and cheerleading them along when they have understandable resistance to getting out of the house: "Won't this be fun?" "Wasn't that FUN?"
Since I make all the decisions, anything that goes wrong feels like my fault. For example, he said he didn't enjoy our recent holiday dinner that we've been hosting for the past 15 years, because it was too much work and chaos with so many children attending. I felt the same way, honestly, but it stung because I spearheaded all the planning with zero input from him besides "um, sure" when I asked him things.
Also recently, I got us tickets to a buzzy new Broadway show. He went home during the first act.
And for our forthcoming 20th anniversary, I have been advocating for a somewhat elaborate trip together without the kids, but he hasn't been very responsive. I don't want to push him, but I would feel sad not doing something special.
We had a heart-to-heart the other night and he said his focus right now is the kids and his job and he just doesn't have much energy for anything else. That apparently includes our relationship, his former hobbies, as well as all the stuff that, in my opinion, makes life worth living and not just a slog from one day to the next.
I'm thinking about dropping my end of the tug-of-war -- just make my own plans and he can come along if he wants to. I actually suggested we split the week down the middle, so I just make plans for half the days. He thought that was a good idea. But that feels more like a custody arrangement than a marriage that I want to be in. I feel really lonely. I am seriously questioning whether I want to be here for another 20 years.
DEAR READER: What say you split your plans for "parties, date nights, social plans ... vacations and travel, religious holidays" down the middle -- then toss one of the halves.
Because you're carrying too much of the mental load, yes -- but the mental load also appears to be in service of total family social overload.
"[U]nderstandable resistance"? That's a sign. As is their need to be told they're having fun. And your husband's wanting out of the work and chaos of what is supposed to be leisure.
They're begging you: Dial it back. Please.
There may also be some attitude in your husband's attitude, but you won't know for sure till you give him, and it, a rest.
This doesn't mean you quit everything -- just that you unbuzz, de-elaborate, chill. Less Broadway, more s'mores and pajamas. Your careers are demanding; kids are demanding; now your fun demands are demanding. The givable something is the something that's gotta give.
Chat online with Carolyn at 11 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com. Write to Tell Me About It in care of The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071; or email
Weekend on 05/30/2019
Print Headline: Dial back planning so many social events for the family