Dear Captain Awkward,
Here is my situation: My husband and I generally get along great. But one thing that routinely proves to be a problem is the concept of time: that is, when we should depart to get to a place before the event we have tickets for/need to be there for/whatever commences.
He’s a “shave it to the last minute” person. I am a “I need a buffer of time because everything takes longer than it should and also when we get there I might want to use the bathroom/get a drink of water/want a moment to breathe/get a good seat” person. Shaving things to the last possible minute stresses me out.
This has been the supremely boring subject of multiple conversations over the years. I tend to organize things and will say “we should leave at this time” to which he’ll ask how long it takes to get there/when it starts. Then the dickering over five or three minutes commences. And he’ll expect me to explain in detail why I have to leave earlier than he believes we should. I do understand that if we have a morning event he’ll want to be able to get in as much sleep time as possible, since he battles insomnia. That said, I don’t surprise morning events on him: he knows ahead of time.
I could passively-aggressively tack on 5-10 more minutes to his question of “how long/when do we need” to get there, but that’s lying – and he’s not a dummy. He will figure this out, and stop trusting my word. Either way, the problem does not resolve.
Nor does he propose alternatives to departure. A recent trip would take us 35 minutes to get to a city tour. I wanted 45; he said “no.” Not “how about 40” but no. This led to an over hour-long discussion that again had me reiterating that by shaving it close I am totally stressed out.
I am exhausted. I have said I could just leave earlier and he could depart when he feels the time is right, but that does defeat the purpose in going together as a couple, and he didn’t like that anyway.
A previous argument like this ended with him agreeing that if I organized the trip, he would go along with my timing for departure. That fell apart instantly with our city tour argument (see above). At the end of this most recent discussion, he asked me to explain to him every time that this leaving time is important to me and it will stress me if I don’t leave at this particular time. Why should it always be on me to justify?
I have tried to use my words. I have tried to offer suggestions. Mostly, it makes me not want to organize outings at all with him, which is also not a road that’s worth going down.
If you have scripts that I can use that I obviously have not thought of before, I’d really love to hear them. And maybe I’m the problem here – so if I just need to do more flying by the seat of my pants, do feel free to tell me. (When he chooses the outing, I generally will go when he wants to go.)
Thanks in advance,
Are You Ready Yet?
Dear Are You Ready Yet,
When you say “Show starts at 8, let’s try to leave by 7:15,” you should pretty much universally get an answer of “Ok, great, thanks!”
Your husband has apparently decided that he is the One True Authority on departure times, traffic, available parking, lines at the ticket will-call, and whether you should be allowed to have time pee before the show at the venue. In the name of “saving time” he is willing to automatically discount your planning abilities and argue the abstract point of the One True Perfect Departure Time for more than an hour of YOUR time.
This is about control. By creating a lot of friction and annoyance around a very easy “problem,” your husband is using the argument about departure times to try to control the situation and control you. He is setting up a situation where your preferences about when to leave involve asking his permission and opening the door to a lengthy, exhausting negotiation. The One Objectively Correct Leaving Time is not actually a thing that exists. He is setting up a matter of preference as a faux logical contest that only he can win. He is also showing his ass mightily by “not liking” when you suggest traveling separately. Nope, only his way (together)(exactly when he wants to leave) will work, even if (especially if?) it makes you anxious and uncomfortable and give him tons of your energy and attention. It only works if he gets to arrive by the skin of his teeth AND force you to comply.
This is bullshit, Letter Writer, and I am so angry on your behalf. You are not the problem here.
First, a note on traveling separately to events: It seems like the simplest, easiest solution in a way: You get to leave when you want to, he gets to leave when he wants to, sure, it’s wasteful to take two vehicles but if it’s really that big a deal to him it’s easier than having a dumb fight every time, right?
However, I suspect that he would still find a way to sabotage the evening and cause you maximum anxiety while you sit in your seat at the venue waiting for him to show, wondering if he’ll actually make it, doing the dance of “I’m on my way!” texts, and disturbing everyone around you while he takes his seat (late). Since going separately is not his preference, he will find a way to exert control and make you decide it’s just “easier” to do it his way.
He’s already shown that he won’t respect a “S/he who makes the plan makes all the plans” agreement with your planned city tour. This tells me that he doesn’t actually want a solution. He wants the friction, the argument, the attention, the anxiety. He creates it every time even when the path of least resistance would be to say “7:15, got it!”
Are you able to say, next time the argument starts, “It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there. I would prefer to leave at 7:15 and that’s a good enough reason. I’m tired of having this argument with you. Let’s not.” and just shut it down? Leave the room? Remove your attention from him (the way parents are advised to do when dropping toddlers off at day care)?
I’m guessing…no? Because he will find a way to punish you, badger you, leave you sitting in the car waiting for him until it’s his preferred departure time or using the “Go by yourself, then!” “Fine, I will” ultimatum (which makes for a rill fun Date Night).
In your shoes, Letter Writer, I would take the next month or so and make fun outing plans with friends, family, cool coworkers – literally anyone but your husband. Buy a book you’ve been wanting to read and take it to a nice restaurant and read alone over an awesome dinner. I think you need to do some fun stuff without this burden around you and I think you need a reminder of how reasonable people behave around this.
Give yourself a break from dragging this dude kicking and screaming out the door.
See if you actually miss his company.
See if he misses yours. Is this all this about how he’d just prefer to stay at home and doesn’t want to go out as much as you do but he can’t talk about that like a grownup? (See if he acts like a butthead about this, too, by pouting at not being invited and trying to put friction around you going out with people who aren’t him.)
If he does bring it up in a “Hey, why are you doing cool stuff without me?” way, maybe, tell him? “I am so tired of the ‘how long does it really take to get there’ fight, I want to be able to do fun stuff without that discussion. I’d prefer to do fun stuff with you, but I need you to agree to knock it off and then follow through by actually knocking it off.”
See if he transfers his controlling behavior to other aspects of your life when this outlet is removed.
After that month or so, I think this might be one for a marriage counselor. Since he doesn’t listen to or believe you, maybe an outside “authority” can deliver the news that he is being a pill about this and needs to stop.
For what it’s worth, I think this is a fight/discussion well worth having/a road worth going down. Your husband turns every Date Night into “You’re Wrong About When We Need To Leave The House Night.” That’s not normal or cool or even a little bit your fault, and it’s frankly a miracle of your patience and compassion that you still try to take him anywhere.
579 thoughts on “#1086: “My husband argues with me about how long it takes to get places.””
Didn’t we have a post not too long ago that was like “My wife has no concept of how long it takes to get places”? Hmm.
….She overestimates how long it takes?
I mean, is that what was suggested in said other post? Cuz otherwise, DOUUUBBBT it’s related. ;p
Yeah, I just skimmed titles through (almost) 800 and didn’t see anything about “wife’s,” “leaving,” or “time.”
I’m thinking it’s an unrelated post.
It was “Perpetual Time Optimism”, and it was the woman in the couple who was presented as being bad at time–not wanting to leave at the last moment, but always underestimating how long a thing was going to take.
Not to be pedantic, but it was the partner of the relationship in Perpetual Time Optimism. Never said OP’s pronouns and she/her pronouns of the partner don’t automatically make one a woman.
You know, I completely and totally assumed that LW was also a woman.
Thanks for figuring out what C was trying to refer to: a post that could not possibly be the same couple just seen from different directions.
If LW has to explain their point of view, their comfort level (endlessly) why doesn’t he? LW has made it perfectly clear why buffer time is important to them, he should give his reasons why it’s not. And then they can get into my-reasons-are-more-important-than-your-reasons tennis
I feel like that’s the argument our reasonable LW is trying to avoid.
I had a “open sarcasm” and “end sarcasm ” tag on the comment but it got eaten.
True, but the deeper argument is “Why do I have to justify my preferences but you don’t?”
The answer is almost certainly the same as the rest of CA’s answer (he’s a controlling asshole).
He has found the button and he’s going to keep on pushing it because it’s a fun noisy button. It’s not about time.
Yep! And pressing that button is unlikely to stop.
“He tells her that the earth is flat;
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long,
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound,
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.
The planet goes on being round.”
– Wendy Cope
I think a really great superpower for women (three cheers for those who already have it!) would be the power of saying, “You’re wrong” and walking away. The power of NOT assuming the burden of proof is always on us. (I love this poem, but I hate that the woman falls into the dude’s trap by arguing in the first place about such stupidity.)
That’s essentially what the Captain is suggesting here. He has this extra bit of power in this situation, in that she doesn’t want to leave without him and he can hold that over her head, making her wait. So screw that–make plans without him. Say “you’re wrong” and walk away.
I also think, LW, as a way of not taking the burden of proof on yourself, I’d revisit the “leave separately” issue. I thought you were going to say “We can’t do that b/c we only have one car”–but you didn’t! Ergo logistically you can, and I REALLY think it might be worth it. My husband and I have this exact issue, except I’m the late one (and I don’t think I’m Always Right, but I never adjusted my behavior till a couple years ago), and since we mostly walk to events, it has worked so well for us to go separately. We can see each other there! But not fight about it! And if Mr. Introvert wants to bail halfway through and I want to stay to help clean up, no hard feelings! It’s *amazing*, and I don’t think it defeats the purpose of going as a couple at all. Unless the purpose is to be seen walking in together or known for your closeness or something… but I think people realize Husband & I are close without that, honestly. Or maybe it’s having each other’s moral support at the event itself, which could be more complicated, but I’ll just say this: the fact that “he doesn’t like that option”? He can exercise that preference for his own darn self: if he wants to be with you he can leave when you leave.
My brother has always, always, always argued with me about all sorts of things, including stuff that’s part of my job/degree/professional training. He will fight to the death over a bit of ambiguity in the rules of a game, for example (such as which dictionary we’re using for Scrabble), to way beyond the point where I care and want to carry on playing the game. It has always driven me mad.
A couple of years ago, he argued with me about the layout of my house, which he’d spent three nights in. He insisted that my daughter’s bedroom window looked out of the side of our house. No, the back, I said. No, the SIDE. Definitely the side. No, it’s the back garden. What are you talking about, it’s definitely the side. It’s opposite the door and the door is to the left of the top of the stairs. Yes, but our stairs have a 90 degree bend. No they don’t! They do. They don’t. BROTHER, YOU ARE LITERALLY ARGUING THAT YOU KNIW THE LAYOUTBIF MY OWN HOUSE BETTER THAN ME.
Also, my house is the middle of a terrace. It has external walls on the front and back, and the side walls are attached to other houses. There are no windows on the sides.
It was absolutely liberating! I was actually laughing by the time he conceded that maaaaaybe I was right, because it was so absurd. I realised that my brother will argue the STUPIDEST things that he can’t possibly be right about until he’s blue in the face, and I am absolved from ever taking him seriously again. And now I am really good at spotting that “I am arguing for the sake of it” in other people and side stepping it. It is indeed a superpower!
Hah! My brother used to do this to me. I started making low stakes bets (“whoever’s right gets five dollars”) with him about anything that was provable (e.g. there are only two dark blue properties on the monopoly board), and he kept losing, until he finally stopped arguing with me about stuff.
It’s sad I had to do that, but it did work. He doesn’t question me when I’m sure about something now.
My ex-husband used to argue my feelings into the ground. I was required to explain and justify all my feelings regarding our relationship and my personal values, but he would constantly insist that he didn’t “understand” me so I had to keep justifying and explaining until he did (i.e. forever). It was grueling. And one day I realized that he didn’t have to understand or even agree with my feelings and values in order to respect them. It was a revelation to realize that my feelings were worthy of respect even if they weren’t how he’d feel in a similar situation. Furthermore, I was always obligated to not only listen to and respect his feelings, but to routinely accommodate them–even if I didn’t understand them, even if I didn’t agree with them.
There is a reason he is my ex. I’m so much less mentally exhausted now. I can really relate to LW’s exhaustion, and I hope they are able to break free from this dynamic.
**There is a reason he is my ex. I’m so much less mentally exhausted now.**
I believe it. This is why my catch-all advice for someone on the fence about leaving a relationship is, “Maybe you think you can’t do better. Trust me, being alone IS DOING BETTER than being with someone awful.” Walking away from all that mental exhaustion is like – suddenly I can breathe, it’s like I live at a luxurious spa or something.
I do hope this particular LW isn’t quite to the point of leaving and they can sort it out. I definitely agree that she should stop placating him and be like, “Welp, this is what I’m gonna do. Join me or don’t.” You can only control your own behavior and it sounds like he’s gonna be mad no matter what, so just do what you can take care of yourself and let him do whatever.
The only justification I will give most people is “Because I [don’t] want to.”
If I like or respect them enough to share with them why I want to, I will, but the reason I do what I do is that I want to.
This. I had an ex who would insist I give him details and justifications for everything I ever did ever in my life and then call me a liar or say I was omitting things…on purpose.
He felt he had a right to know everything I ever did, ever. Yeah sorry I can’t temember every specific detail from some random incident 20 years ago.
He would be so relentless that I was crying, hysterical crying. I wanted those “discussions” to end so badly I just said “yeah ok I lied, you know my life better than me.”
One day I stopped and just started saying “ok.” He asked why I didn’t argue with him anymore. I told him he was always right I was always wrong so it was easier to just let him win to begin with.
Within a couple months I was gone. I left to “go to the store” and got on a train to the other side of the country.
Three blissful days of *no him.* He called my mom. She sounded worried and denied hearing from me. Then she called me (on the train) to let me know.
I hope he dues in a fire.
I swear, one of the best things I ever learned to say is, “That’s dumb.”
“The world is flat.”
“Racism isn’t real.”
“Men are superior to women.”
“That’s dumb. You’re dumb.”
It works best presented a la Amy Poehler, and it shuts that shit right the fuck down. Because everyone knows it’s dumb. Leaving *exactly* 35 minutes before the event because it takes *exactly* 35 minutes to get there? That’s dumb. That’s so fucking stupid and dumb. This dumb asshole never heard of traffic? He never heard of getting lost or getting a damned drink before the curtain goes up? His time is so fucking valuable that he parcels it out by the *literal minute*?! With his *wife*?! Yeah, he’s such a fucking treat to be around that she should be grateful for whatever he deigns to bestow on her. Fuck that. I am a dyed-in-the-wool minute shaver, and I am almost crying with frustration on the LW’s behalf. Lookit:
Rules of Being an Adult:
1. Try not to be a fucking asshole every minute of your life.
2. When in doubt, consult Rule One.
I am very tired and have had a bit of wine, but, omfg, fuck every part of this. This guy needs to get his shit together. Dollars to donuts, this is the tip of the damned iceberg.
i really like this approach but would swap a different term in for “dumb” to make this less ableist. “you’re wrong” or “that’s ridiculous” might work.
I like “that’s ridiculous” here. Ridiculing something is often an excellent way to reduce the behavior; most people really don’t like to feel ridiculous.
“wrong” or “untrue” doesn’t work the same way because it leaves the door open to arguing that, “it IS true” or “Actually, I’m right because…”
The Amy Poehler bit works because the insult makes it clear the statement is so beneath arguing about. It is insulting, but frankly so is the way the person is treating her. And the insult can shock someone into silence because it’s unexpected from a “nice, open-minded” type person like Amy Poehler.
I know some people can pull off the same thing with the word “fool.” Like, not even say “that’s foolish,” but just a Look and the word “Fool.” But, I think that’s harder since fool isn’t a word in the dialect of English I typically use, so it either comes off like I’m trying to do a funny Shakespeare thing, which is not the vibe I’m going for, or I’m imitating AAVE, which I’m *really* not going for.
Some people say, “No.” With a period, either with raised eyebrows or the thing where they look someone up and down and judge them unworthy in literally one facial gesture. I wish I had the confidence to pull that one off, but it’s very body language.
So, while I would never use the r-word, I have found that calling a statement “dumb” or “stupid” is the lesser evil in this situation, at least until I can master the Judgement Expression + “no.”
I say “That’s not cool, don’t do that.” I practiced it so it would come out reflexively whenever a relative says something shitty
This is brilliant and I’m definitely using it as a script in the future, I just wanted to say that.
The first part of your comment, about saying “You’re wrong” and walking away, reminds me of a Twitter thread lately in which someone “debated” an alt-righter by simply disagreeing with them
E.G. “Cultural Marxism is destroying Western Civilization!”
“no it isn’t”
“Yes it is just look at the new Star Wars films shoving cultural Marxism down our throats”
“no they aren’t”
“The Frankfurt School was an actual thing you stupid cuck”
“no it wasn’t”
Such fun XD
Yep, just say, “I’m going to XX o’clock.” If you want to go with me, be ready by then. If not, I will leave without you.”
“I am exhausted. I have said I could just leave earlier and he could depart when he feels the time is right, but that does defeat the purpose in going together as a couple, and he didn’t like that anyway.” Sounds like the nice version to me. I’d be like “Okay, I’m leaving, bye.” XD He doesn’t seem to like ANY options, so he can sort himself out.
This is my thought exactly. He doesn’t like going when you want to go; he doesn’t like you being stressed/upset when you go later; he doesn’t like compromising and splitting the difference; he doesn’t like going separately. Those are all of the options, and he likes exactly none of them. I get the sense that the only option he WOULD like is you going “Oh honey, you’re right, you’re so much smarter than me, we’ll do things your way!”, and that’s obviously not on the table.
OP, seriously, just tell him “I’m leaving at X time, you’re welcome to come with me if you want”. If he argues, you just say “You can go later on your own if you want. That’s the time I’m leaving, and that’s the end of the discussion.” And then make it actually the end of the discussion; don’t justify it, argue over it, attempt further compromise, try to convince him to play nice, etc. anymore, since those tactics clearly aren’t going anywhere with him. If he absolutely refuses to drop it, you can say “I’m leaving at X, my decision is final, and I’m not having this argument again” and walk away and do something else. You don’t have to let him control these arguments forever.
I remember an hours-long argument (one of many)with the first ex where he blurted out that if we were arguing it meant we were communicating, so somehow continuing to argue instead of working toward a mutual solution was a good thing.
That was an ocean of cold water on my reconciliation efforts, and after that I shut down any attempt to argue & used the time & energy to get the hell out.
Yes, this exactly! I have done this with my child since she was very little: offer choices, both of which are fine with me. “You want to wear your coat or carry it?” “My car is leaving at 7:30. Do you want to go to school dressed or in your pajamas?” It has been remarkably freeing and calming for me.
One key to this approach is being willing to let them feel whatever they feel from the consequences of their choices, and being able to see that any resulting tantrums are actually a separate issue.
It’s amazing how easy it is to steer people by offering them a choice. Most of the time, we’ll pick whichever of the given options we prefer, and feel like we’ve ‘won’ because we got what we wanted. We don’t even stop to think about the choices we weren’t offered, and if we might prefer one of them, unless the offered choices are so bad that they practically force us outside the box.
There are, of course, lots of bad ramifications of this very human tendency. But it’s also very, very useful for managing toddlers and toddler-like adults.
I use this psychology all the time at my job: I take food orders and I’ve learned, painfully, that if you give people too many choices they flip the fuck out and are convinced that no matter what they pick there’s a better option I’m keeping from them for some reason and my goal is to ruin their evening by “cheating” them.
If I just say ” these are the three chicken options” it cuts WAAAAAAY down on that shit.
Exactly! And have empathy for the feelings while still implementing the consequences. Yes, I’m sorry you missed the movie too. It would have been nice if you made it
“I’m leaving at X. You can be ready and come with me, you can find your own way, or you can stay home — it’s your call.”
And then stick to that.
I’ve had to do this with a friend (who actually IS bad at time) for years now. I, too, am a “leave early or be stressed out” person (I like to have what I call “getting lost time”), and she isn’t so much a “get there on the dot” person as she is a “oh, we needed to leave ten minutes ago?” person.
Getting lost time, finding parking time, getting stuck behind a giant piece of farm equipment on the highway time…I usually leave myself a cushion of at least as long as it takes to get to a place just for the stuff that can happen during the drive. That’s if I know the weather isn’t bad; in the winter the cushion gets bigger.
*at least half as long. I need to go to bed.
And if it’s an unfamiliar place, you have to figure out parking (one venue near me has free parking, but it’s at a parking garage two blocks from the venue). And if you get there early? Cocktail time, or check out some of the artwork scattered around, or just sit and chat.
YES. This is how I had to handle my xh, who would be full on late, not just in the nick of time. It actually worked, not because he ever started getting anywhere on time, but because I arrived when I was comfortable and enjoyed whatever it was 1000% more. It was also really satisfying when people would ask where he was and I would just shrug my shoulders.
This was how I handled my ex, as well (we broke up for non-time-related reasons). I was sick of showing up to things late, and he could not be on time, so I started driving separately and the fights stopped and it was great. It also had the side benefit of demonstrating to his mother that I was not his keeper and she should talk to him if she had problems with his behavior (like when he was late to her wedding rehearsal dinner that I was on time for).
” I get the sense that the only option he WOULD like is you going “Oh honey, you’re right, you’re so much smarter than me, we’ll do things your way!”, and that’s obviously not on the table.”
I’m getting the same sense from what the LW shared. It seems as if she has tried to come up with every possible compromise, and the fact that husband is not willing to take any of them makes it clear that this is about him being right or winning, more than anything else.
That’s exactly what’s happening here. He thinks this is an opportunity for Vulcanning and optimizing, and he’s going to “prove” that her feelings about tardiness are irrational rather than valid and fine. He’s making this about him, rather than about the event, which means his greatest form of entertainment is Winning! and stroking his own ego. So: a terrible companion for everything, but especially life.
I think he’s trying to convert her to the “right” way. Like there is only one right way. Ugh.
I mean, I have a tendency to push timing a bit, too (though not movies or the airport – being late to those stresses even me out), but nonetheless, I can say with some confidence that the LW’s husband is being ridiculous here – ridiculous and a kind of mean, really.
Nooooo. I don’t think he’d lihe it if she just agreed with him. It’d probably make him even madder. He just wants a fight. He wants to belittle her. If she took that away by agreeing he’d just find something else.
Ooh, good call, I can totally see that happening. He’d get mad about all those previous times she fought him.
the don’t argue it point is the most important part of it and it’s the hardest to get used to. by arguing something you act as though it has merit. The idea of waiting until he wants to go no longer has merit, the idea of arguing no longer has merit. Amy is exactly right.
But OP, if you do this, you need to be prepared to walk straight out of whatever argument or manufactured crisis that presents itself. If you give him advanced warning that’s enough for him to know exactly what time he should be having some kind of stress that he absolutely needs you to solve.
Set an alarm for yourself. “Oh, your pants are suddenly on fire and that clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with the candle you lit and put directly behind you? How terrible. See you at the movie!”
. . .” he doesn’t like you being stressed/upset when you go later; ”
Actually, did our OP tell us that? I’m going to go back and real to see whether that’s true.
This is exactly the solution I arrived at with an ex who did the same shaving-it-close thing, making us late to EVERYTHING.
The problem is that when we would go places separately, said ex would arrive well after movies, plays, lectures, etc. started, and after finding me would start in with the “What did I miss?” — distracting me and everyone around us, and causing scene when I wouldn’t provide a synopsis of whatever had been missed.
The relationship didn’t last much longer.
*drowns your ex in the nearest gas station toilet*
that’s a little much.
On the one hand, I understand where you’re coming from.
On the other hand, if someone came in late to a movie or play I was trying to pay attention to and starting making it harder for me to hear what was going on because they were demanding an explanation of what they’d missed, I cannot deny that my mind would quietly, privately go there.
Fair. Gas station attendants have crummy enough jobs without having to clean up people’s exes.
Yep. My husband has a few “unique” traits. First, we like to bike places together, but he’s faster than me and terrible at leading (doesn’t stop if I miss the stoplight, doesn’t always signal turns, etc.). I spent some time being annoyed at this and asking him to be better about this, and it didn’t work. I don’t like these arguments and I don’t like trying to get someone to change, so I just started planning my own route to locations we both bike to and ignoring him (and never ever ever let him carry my keys or wallet again). It had some especially amusing consequences when, for instance, he forgot the address of a friend’s house and also forgot his phone, so when he biked on past the street they lived (four blocks ahead of me) I couldn’t help him. Left my bike outside so maybe he’d see it, and he joined us 20 minutes later. He’s an adult. He can figure this out. If he looks stupid because he made it impossible for me to help him, it’s his problem. He’s mature enough not to blame me and eventually actually did start reforming his antisocial biking ways. In the meantime I stopped stressing out about it and refused to argue about it.
Second, we both have a bad habit about starting projects while we wait for the other person to be ready to go to, say, a museum. We’ve talked about it, but the conversations seemed useless. I’ve decided there’s no point in talking about it and all I can control is my own actions. Now I set my timetable and just leave the house. (Occasionally he does this to me, too!) Usually signaling the departure leads to a flurry of activity and he makes it to the bus by running after me/makes it to the car by the time I pull out of the garage/etc. Maybe once or twice I’ve just gone without him. It short-circuits the “but I didn’t think you were ready!” discussion, ends the “Honey I’m ready to go are you ready?” discussions, and means he takes me seriously when I say, “I’m leaving!”
My husband really likes being right, and was raised in a family that just likes to argue stuff for the sake of having a conversation. I can’t deal with just arguing unless I’m in the mood and I know beforehand that it’s recreational arguing, not arguing for the purpose of deciding something that matters. I’ll do the recreational arguing about whatever over a beer, but I do not want to argue about what time to leave. My husband has had a little touch of the fourth-grade “I like her so I’ll pull her hair” or “if we argue at least we’re talking” thing going when he’s really stressed, and so he does something annoying to get that attention. I hate it, I don’t want to reward it, I want to shut that down and redirect to more pleasant ways of getting my attention. Besides calling him out sometimes (“You are being annoying on purpose. Stop it. Figure out what you really want to say and say it. You can say you’re stressed and want a back rub — I’ll give you one!”) I try to just not engage with some of the habits (as described above) that drive me nuts. (My other favorite tactic is that if I know he’s wrong and it’s something we can test empirically, I goad him into testing it as soon as possible. Now whenever I say, “Honey, you must be right! Let’s try that RIGHT NOW!” he starts getting very nervous and backtracking on whatever he said!)
If I were LW I’d leave…permanently.
You know, at first I thought this was going to be like the aggravating never ending low-key “arguments” my husband and I used to have about the subjective temperature of the room. They were dumb and ridiculous and when we finally went “wait, this is stupid, let’s just agree to disagree on how our bodies differently perceive temperature for the remainder of our lives” and never spoke about it again except to laugh at ourselves. Because neither of us actually liked arguing and underneath it all we did in fact respect each other’s differences!
But this isn’t that–he likes arguing and he’s blatantly disrespecting you. Hour long explanations about how his preferences are objectively correct and yours are objectively false are NOT COOL and are exhausting and I have so, so, been there with an ex, and this exact behaviour is definitely one of many reasons why he is an ex. I’m definitely not saying your husband can’t fix this, especially if it is the only particular occasion when this behaviour comes out, but HE has to fix this, and if you can’t even get him to hear that this is A Problem That Is Making You (his partner!!) Suffer, that’s an impossible roadblock. I hope the Captain’s suggestions help you find ways to let go of this burden he keeps handing you in terms of endless justification of your needs, and better yet I hope they help him see the damage he’s doing and find a will to change it.
This is a great illustration of the difference!!
Yeah, there is ZERO plausible deniability that he actually doesn’t understand the ten-second concept of “I want to leave early in case of delays like bad traffic, also so we have time to find seats when we get there and aren’t rushed”, that it’s such a difficult and alien preference that he needs it explained to him repeatedly. He doesn’t want an explanation, he wants something he can argue with.
Seriously. There isn’t one Objectively True Logical Time to Leave for Things, but if there were, it’s objectively and logically the LW’s.
You were right about the first part, and then you ruined it with that but.
No, leaving with room to spare is the best way to arrive on time to things. Reality confirms that unexpected delays are always possible, and since a delay is a problem becomes it fucks with time, you mitigate the risk of a delay by lengthening the time you’ve budgeted to arrive.
Disagree. I’m someone who runs late, but if I were moderating a group of people with various interests, the best solution is obviously LW’s. Shaving things close to the line is a personal preference that you have the freedom to use when acting independently. Allowing extra time for things like bathroom breaks, comfortable seating, soothing anxiety, unexpected events is just logically the better course of action in a compromise situation. Since compromise is necessary for more than one person to go to an event together, then LW is actually, objectively correct here.
Being objectively correct isn’t the most important thing in an intimate relationship, and acknowledging and validating feelings and difficulties of the other person in important even if they aren’t logical. But the fact that LW’s preference is closer to the best objective compromise really magnifies the injustice they are enduring here, and so I think it’s important to point out.
If the time is Objectively Cannot Be Late, then it’s objectively wise to buffer against uncertainty. But otherwise, it’s a matter of preference just how bad being late actually is.
I know a guy who likes to get to movies when the actual movie starts, and he dislikes previews and pre-preview ad videos and pre-pre-preview ad slideshows. And also he doesn’t much care where he sits, and movies aren’t social for him, so it works out for him. Doesn’t work for me because I have more dislike of bad seats and of having to scatter a social group.
Some people are just more okay with the state of beyond late, a certain amount, to certain things. Sometimes their lateness harms other people and what they’re doing is not caring about people. But other times it’s just about their own preference.
I’m a leave-it-to-the-last-minute person, and I agree with you.
Fun fact: some people experience anxiety when forced to wait at their destination because they arrived too early. I am one of these people, though mine is not so severe that I can’t make allowances for Husband’s need to be early owing to his anxiety over the possibility of being late. But we must compromise because if we arrive at a movie and have to sit in a dark theater with zero other humans for 15-30 minutes before anything happens (his preference) I start clawing furniture.
So you are correct: there is no one Objectively True Logical Time to Leave for Things, full stop.
I am a person who gets anxious if I am too early for things, as a throwback to being invited to things as a young teen to which no-one was actually going to.
I manage this by taking something with me to occupy me if I am early as I also find it stressful being late. Usually knitting as I am a fidgety person re anxiety or a book if I’m not feeling super fidgety. I generally always have a podcast or music on if I am waiting or travelling to occupy brainspace that anxiety otherwise misuses. If I’m really having a bad anxiety time it may be all 3!
Anxiety can also make me procrastinate about leaving and I tend to default to the shortest time it ever takes me to get somewhere is The Time it Takes so I make sure to add some time to give me some leeway, in advance before leaving is an immediate thing I need to do.
I do not argue that my way is the One True Logical Way. It is the way that works best for me. Nothing more nothing less. I share what I do above in case anyone finds it helpful, not to prove that I am Right. LWs husband’s focus seems to be on proving that he is Right and Correct and Logical. He also assumes that being exactly on time is the best case scenario for everyone and that being early is a waste.
Yeah, he gave the game away by saying it /could/ be explained to him (every damn time). He admitted he understands it. He now claims he can’t remember it from one day to the next, which is highly implausible. Busted.
No, it’s a control game.
Yes to this. I love this
Yep agree that this is about exerting disrespect.
My SO and I used to argue about when to leave – my SO is barely make it, I’m someone who likes plenty of buffer space. But because he cares about me and its not about exerting control and therefore my anxiety about not leaving in time is not a win for him – we leave when its comfortable for me (he will temper some of allowance with real suggestions eg if we’re not checking luggage maybe only an hour before departure will do).
Yeah, my husband is a last minute packer which I found/find frustrating because I can toss stuff into a bag and be out the door 10-15 minutes after making the decision to head up north to my parents’ place.
Now, I tidy up and do last minutes stuff while he packs. Or we take 2 vehicles, which is happening more and more because the kids and I get out of work/school 2 hours before he gets out of work most days.
Yeah, subjective preference difference arguments are real, and often intractible as far as making both people comfortable at all times! But if LW’s husband was seeing this as one of those, he’d be suggesting stuff like “I have my strongest preference to not waste valuable sleeping time by leaving early for morning events; let’s agree to do it my way for events before noon and your way for events after noon,” or something else that would let LW do things their way some of the time and Husband do things their way other times. Ugh. What a poopyhead.
LW, the advice given here is great and spot on.
And even if this weren’t a matter of him exerting control and being a jerk, even if he WAS just genuinely bad with time and timing, you would still be within your rights to feel stressed out and annoyed by it. I am someone who likes being on time, preferably early. It matters to me. I get anxious if I have to worry about being late. I get anxious if I don’t have a little buffer of time to settle into places. I am perfectly within my rights to make that a requirement of going out and make that a price of admission for anyone who wants to be my friend or partner. You are also entitled to your preferences in this matter.
Your husband is being a jerk. I hope the Captain’s advice helps.
I don’t think the husband is bad at time (he definitely thinks he is the only one who is good at time) or that “badness at time” is the issue. Also, I think a good rule is that if you are Bad With Time, and your spouse is Good With Time, you thank your nice spouse for doing the thing they are good at and you are not. Like, if someone tells me “show’s at 8, let’s leave by 7:15” I am GRATEFUL because now I don’t have to figure out the route and travel time. I can just be ready at 7:15.
Oh agreed completely. There are of course genuinely people who are Bad With Time (and people who can’t or don’t want to deal with that, like myself, have every right to nope out), but I don’t think he’s one of them. Just pointing out that even IF that were the only issue, she’s entitled to nope out of that affecting her.
Absolutely this. I am Not Good With Time, for various reasons. I don’t like to be late, but I can live with it. To me, making the plans and telling me when we’re leaving is a relief because it means that they’re doing the work to make my ADHD butt NOT late for things without me having to put in the effort to self-motivate. (Within reason. I’m not going to the theatre two hours early.)
I am hilariously bad at math. I leave mathing to my spouse. I do not get into hours-long arguments about why he feels the need to make sure the numbers come out correctly.
I just have to say that I joke with my husband that one of the reasons I married him is because I now never have to math again, because he’s good at it and I am very much not.
Regarding the lateness thing, I am one of those who really need buffer time. My whole body was clenching at LW’s description of her husband. That is just not on. I think my husband occasionally rolls his eye at my ‘but we should leave now in case a meteor hits or something’ attitude, but he allows it because then I’m less anxious, and as a result (for me anyway) I find myself more able to believe him when he says ‘trust me, it only takes 10 minutes to get there, we’ll be fine.’
I tend to get places super early *because* I know I’m bad at time. If I’m ready when I think of as “on time”, I’ll be late. I can either show up super early with a book or in all probability miss the thing because I’m still getting dressed half an hour after it started and I decide it’s silly to leave for it at all.
When other people in my life know me well enough and are good enough at time to say, “We need to leave by 7:15, that means you need to start getting ready at 6:30,” that’s the best thing ever.
*vibrates with rage*
LW, I am an early bird like you. This? This is NOT NORMAL or OKAY. I 100% agree with the Captain that control stuff is going on.
My spouse likes to shave it to the minute. We’ve had a few fights about this early on in the relationship, but all it took was saying “look, it takes LONGER to argue about it, and leaving an extra five minutes makes ME more comfortable” and that was enough! The fact that your husband is willing to argue for HOURS in order to ‘save’ five minutes is a huge big red flag.
Good luck. This honestly sounds awful and I’m so sorry.
[Also vibrates with rage on your behalf]
When it comes to flying, I am on the other end of this argument. My spouse always wants to arrive at the airport 2 hours before takeoff, minimum, for domestic flights. Which is fine for him, his work is portable and he can work in the airport while we wait, but my work involves a drafting table. I’m not a ‘down to the minute’ person, but getting to the airport 1:15 before the flight takes off is just fine by me, or even only an hour if there’s no baggage to check.
So we talked about it like adults, agreed that we would compromise some, and I rearrange my work on days when we’re flying as best I can so that I have something to do in the airport. Funnily enough, I don’t enjoy provoking anxiety in my spouse.
As my spouse said during our first big argument while we were dating, “What can we do so that we’ll both be happy?” (Yeah, I kept him.)
LW, this is not normal or healthy, even for an issue of great import to your husband. I’m with Ana on the ‘huge big red flag’ and adding some blinking lights to it. This sounds utterly miserable.
I hope the Captain’s good advice helps you.
I am stealing your spouse’s argument strategy.
Share and enjoy!
I’m like your husband, but that’s because I’m always convinced there will be a 2-hour long security line, followed by my being detained and locked in an empty little interrogation room by the TSA. I am a white woman, so I don’t even have to worry about racism or xenophobia in my country. Of course none of this has ever happened to me. But I still am convinced of this anyway, so I do this even for red-eye flights. It takes 15 minutes for the check-in and security line every single time. Yet I am still fearful of getting in trouble anyway. Yay anxiety!
I’m a light skinned woman and once, somehow, a camping knife got lodged in an umbrella and I used either one so rarely that I didn’t notice. Until I was pulled aside at the airport while my bag went through the scanner. Eeeehhhhhh whoops! (I did make it on the flight; knife got chucked since I had no bags to check. It took probably 20+ minutes to sort out and since I was early I still made the flight)
Thank goodness you made your flight!
I’m glad you didn’t get in trouble with security! I lost my keys in my umbrella once. I replaced them, then found them the next time it rained.
Ironically, my family (we’re Middle Eastern) always got held up going through security when I was a kid, so I never realized that it *wasn’t* normal to get to the airport 2.5 hours before your flight. I genuinely thought it just took that long for everyone until I was like, 21.
I just flew this week for the first time in over a decade. Last time I flew anywhere, airports were recommending you showed up 4 hours before your flight was scheduled to leave. Now the whole process takes almost as little time as before 9-11, probably partially because everyone checks in online and has their boarding passes cued up on their phones. But it felt weird showing up so much later before our flights.
Flying makes me more anxious than anything in my life and arriving with plenty of time to spare eases it so much it’s unbelievable. (It makes me anxious enough that even if my flight doesn’t leave until 7pm I won’t want to do anything or really leave the house except for my flight because what if something happens and I am late to the airport?!) When I wait and arrive later than I want to, I am a ball of stress and frustration. So when I was flying to visit my ex I left plenty of time – and thank goodness I did because the country I was working in assigned me a digital visa since my contract was only 4 months. Well, that didn’t register so when I was trying to fly to the UK from another country in Europe (though not the one I was working in), I got pulled into the Naughty Room while they questioned me about overstaying my visa and had to call my country of residence to verify my visa. I made it to my plane with 5 minutes to spare, but would have completely missed my flight (and likely had something of an emotional meltdown in the bathroom, tbh) if I hadn’t given myself more time than anybody I know allows for at the airport.
“Funnily enough, I don’t enjoy provoking anxiety in my spouse.”
I think this is the issue. LW’s spouse does seem to enjoy provoking anxiety. This upsets me so much! I’m the anxiety filled one in my marriage and my husband’s go-to statement is to ask “what do you need? What can I do?” when we’re planning something that is out of the norm or he sees me getting upset about something.
I originally had sarcasm tags around that line. I guess the format thingee screened them out.
Yes, this is the issue. I care more about not stressing my spouse than I care about using an extra hour here and there. We don’t travel enough that one hour is worth fighting over. LW’s husband’s behavior suggests that this is not his moral calculus, which has big red flags waving all over for me (see the discussion Lundy Bancroft below).
I used to be a down-to-the-minute airport person! Sitting around waiting is torture for me, so I would try to plan my time to contain as little of that as possible. Then I missed a flight due to a combination of Perpetual Time Optimism and Not Reading the Dang Airport Shuttle Schedule Beforehand.
Now my plans include both cushion time and a good book. Solutions! They exist!
Whoops, hit enter too soon! I was adding anecdata to the pile that LW’s husband’s constant arguments against arriving early is *not* about avoiding boredom or whatever other “””logical””” reason he’s citing.
Yeah, I’m a last-minute person when it comes to air travel, and my spouse is a “get there really early and wait for ages at the gate” person. (In fact, she is a “let’s arrange everything around my myriad anxieties, even if it means a lot of extra work for you” person.) I do NOT want to spend an hour of my evening sitting uselessly at an airport gate. My whole life I’ve preferred to arrive 45 minutes-1 hour before a domestic flight, approach the gate after boarding has started, and walk straight onto the plane 15 minutes before takeoff. (Yes, I did once miss an international flight, and it sucked–so I adjusted my habits accordingly!) But my resistance to scheduling scads of time to sit around the airport has remained steadfast as I’ve aged, because 1) I am now responsible for a lot of household labor and don’t like being forced to rush my pre-travel house/pet/luggage preparations, and 2) a lot of my travel is to see family who now live far away, and I don’t want to unnecessarily give up an hour with them to be super early for my flight home. I love sitting around with a book, but airports are uncomfortable!
I always push back when my wife wants to be at the airport 2-2.5 hours early for a domestic flight. But I also don’t expect her to acclimate to the way I used to do things. We signed up for TSA pre-check, AND we usually get to the airport 1.5 hours early: enough time to keep my wife’s stress at a manageable level, but not enough to drive me bonkers with hurry-up-and-wait.
TL;DR: There are legitimate reasons someone might not simply agree, “okay, we’ll leave at the early time you propose,” no questions asked. But they should take the other person’s stress seriously and try to find a compromise that doesn’t put all of the discomfort onto one party.
Yes! My wife has anxiety and I was/am Bad At time / Perpetually Time Optimistic. Two things helped us early on: 1. She said it was okay for me to straight up ask, “are you anxious about X?” (I didn’t want to be a jerk who blamed things on anxiety but she found it a relief and can always say no, the real problem is X.) When she says yes, we solve the problem together. And 2. She patiently explained that my perpetual time optimism felt rude and stressful to her, so I’ve worked on it since, especially with giving realistic time estimates (an ongoing project).
I definitely DID NOT decide to explain her anxiety was wrong and my priorities are more important than hers because that is jerk behavior for jerks.
Same. I am always going to be someone who plans ahead and builds in extra time to get places, especially places I have never been before and might get lost going to, and I am always going to be someone who would prefer being early to things with a scheduled start time. My husband is not that type of person, and never will be, but it took us maybe like 3 conversations to work out that him being ready and willing to leave a bit earlier was worth it to reduce my anxiety. Yes, I occasionally have to remind him why we are leaving early, and yes, I occasionally compromise when it really is something we can be “late” to (like my family’s parties, where 80% of attendees are at least 15-20 minutes “late” and start times are more of a suggestion), but it is not something we argue about now, especially not for hours.
LW, you deserve to have your feelings respected, without having to “justify” them to his standards. He is not giving up anything more valuable than your peace of mind by agreeing to leave earlier, and his need to argue about this for hours is concerning. Best of luck with this situation!
I honestly don’t get what the LW’s husband thinks he’s “winning” by arriving not one nanosecond early–so the hell what if you have to sit through the movie ads for five minutes? But of course, what he’s really after is the LW’s time–her anxiousness over it, his dominance of it, controlling her with it.
How else do you know what movies you’d like to see next month if don’t see the ads?
The trailers are the best part, but I wouldn’t mind losing the product ads that run before them.
I think it’s not even that. I think it’s standard domestic abuser motivation straight out of, “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. He gets a payoff out of LW being so perpetually frazzled by his constant fuckery that LW does not clearly see something obvious he doesn’t want dealt with. I said more in a comment further down.
Yeah it made me think of the example in that book where a guy is making his wife and kids wait for him but they are missing the games at a family party. The kids try to pressure the mother into leaving without him but she can’t explain how he’ll punish her with fights for doing that.
I don’t buy LWs explanation that it ‘ruins the point of going out as a couple’ because early dates usually involve arriving separately and are perfectly romantic. I think it ruins the point for him and he’ll punish her.
I thought of “Why does he do that?” too, the part where Bancroft says (rough paraphrase) that when you ask a non-abuser to stop doing something that annoys you, he will, while an abuser will do that thing more or worse or longer. The Captain is right, it is about control. Also, my ex would slooow-walk and make me late to, or even miss completely, things that were important to me. Insidious sabotage.
Given that LW says this argumentative behavior is really only cropping up in this one area, I’m not declaring him an abuser yet. I AM declaring him unreasonable. Is that because he’s an ass? A closet control freak? Maybe. Or maybe he grew up with “let’s get there extra early!” parents and feels like he’s done a lifetime worth of bored waiting already. That wouldn’t make it okay for him to be intransigent—my point is that there’s more than one potential driver of his behavior.
Also: I never, ever want to give abusers a pass. I always want victims to be aware and informed. But this board’s commentariat has a really bad habit of going straight to “ABUSER!” as the answer for a huge number of letters. The problem with this isn’t some abstract sense of “fairness” — it’s that jumping straight to the one worst option can obscure the truth as much as any amount of unfounded optimism. It also sometimes (as here) involves infantilizing the LWs, doubting their perspectives in situations where there’s no objective reason to. (Sometimes there are reasons! Like the lady who’s being gaslighted by her non-con-poly boyfriend from this week. But I think we ought to at least begin in a place where we assume the LW understands his/her/zir own life until there’s reason to think otherwise.)
Hmm, I disagree. You don’t need to be an Abuser to act in abusive ways, and you don’t have to be at the extreme end of abusive behavior to be an Abuser. I think CA’s commentariat has been immensely helpful at validating things we gloss over as “not a big deal” actually being insidious, controlling, and manipulative. But then those things become normalized and minimized which only furthers the victim’s perception that they are the ones being the problem or being unreasonable. People in abusive or toxic relationships often can’t see what is happening to them. It’s important to have people on the outside point to things and say “that is abusive.” Because we’re trained not to use that word unless it’s physical and extreme.
It took me until my mid 20’s to realize my dad was abusive. Because he “just” was controlling, manipulative, argumentative, and threw tantrums. Society told me that stuff wasn’t abuse because it wasn’t ~that bad~. Even once I recognized his behavior was abusive, it took other people naming those behaviors “abusive” out loud for me to start using that word to describe it myself. Before that he was just an asshole. People don’t like the “a” word but it needs to be said, and I’m grateful to CA’s community for being so level-headed and blunt about it.
For what it’s worth, if I have to spend 15 minutes being bored before I’d probably rather not go at all, as opposed to having to be bored for that long waiting for it to start. We don’t KNOW that he’s not the same. Though his attitude towards other things gives us clues.
Also, that’s no excuse to be crappy to people or to be cruel to anyone, and he totally is being both to the LW. If you have that big of a problem sitting around for a while learn to carry a book, or put some games on your phone, or use that time to talk to each other, there is a giant world of solutions, and “browbeat your partner into accepting your preferences as a sad fact of life” is not one of them!
“Hey, why are you doing cool stuff without me?” “I dunno, because my bff doesn’t waste all my time arguing over stupid shit?” -_- I mean, sorry not sorry, you’ve been INCREDIBLY patient thus far.
Yep, this would be my response. “WHY ARE YOU LEAVING SO EARLY?” “Because I enjoy spending time with Person Not You, and you know how I feel about being late.” “BUT WHY ARE YOU DOING A THING WITHOUT ME??” “Because going places together is clearly not fun for either of us anymore.”
Play shitty games, win shitty prizes.
Ha, that’s a great expression that I hadn’t heard before! 🙂
Ha! “Play shitty games, win shitty prizes.”
Now I’m picturing a chain of terrible family restaurant/arcades. Where All the Games are Mind Games, and the Biggest Prize of All is Getting Out.
I would watch your horror movie.
You’ve been to Incredible Pizza with middle schoolers then?
Also, LW, I have been through this and my partner was willing to leave when I wanted to leave.
Years ago I had an ex who would get mad when we would go to lunch together and I only had an hour to eat and had to be back at my desk. It was totally a power trip on his part and we had to stop going out to lunch together. That was the only solution since he would not stop pouting and would not stop getting me back late. (At the time I rode the bus to work and he drove, and would come pick me up if we were going to a restaurant far from where I worked. If we walked from my work it was no problem; I could just leave when I was ready.)
This control issue was truly a red flag for the rest of our relationship. We divorced for other reasons, but it was a really bad sign.
Also I can see him actually enjoying the thrill of being late and being the center of attention when he is arriving at things by the skin of his teeth. Even when he’s inconveniencing others (besides you, I mean) he probably doesn’t care because it’s so great to be the center of attention — even negative attention — and being in control.
I am so sorry and I agree with the Capt that this is probably a sign of other problems. Best wishes to you.
I’m stealing this as well.
Oh I love your closer
Best answer ever, Corgi. Poor LW, as an anxious person (which manifests in me by hating tardiness) I totally get her and yes, her husband is just an ill-mannered toddler in adult form who is also a jerk
I feel like Husband is on the extreme end of the spectrum of a subset of people I’ve mentally dubbed “Peacocks”. Why Peacocks? Because I’m a goof and whenever people throw tantrums about not getting exactly their way I just hear Mark Wahlberg in “The Other Guys” throwing a tantrum about how “I’m a peacock, you gotta let me fly!!” It’s funny because peacocks don’t fly, not well at least. They throw tantrums in order to be allowed to do things that don’t even make sense.
Peacocks catastrohpize the opposition to their point for no reason. I see it most in the “please let me know if your plans change” vs “why are you monitoring my every move?!?! You’re suffocating me!!” arguments between my friends and their Peacocks.
LW, he’s reacting as if you’re suggesting leaving 3 hours early to go to a movie five minutes down the road. Maybe he truly believes you’re being unreasonable. Maybe he’s just a jerkfaced loon. I vote the latter, though it doesn’t matter. What’s the saying? “Reasons are for reasonable people”? He’s being unreasonable, and you’ve seen you can’t reason with him when it comes to this.
Call his bluff, like the Captain suggests. Yeah, it will probably cause fights, but you’re fighting now anyway aren’t you? Go see a movie on time, in peace. Go get a good seat at a theater performance. He can flap around at home stretching his wings and squaking into the void.
WOW I KNOW A LOT OF PEACOCKS IT TURNS OUT, thank you for this beautiful term
Ha! My fiance is a peacock. Thank for this — from now on I’m going to mentally record over his peacockiness with the shrieks of a peacock.
I’m seeing a CBT therapist & learning how to dispassionately set boundaries around stuff like this. I’m recognising some of the techniques in some responses. It’s really helpful, if you have access.
I am loving the comments, especially “shitty games/shitty prizes” & peacocks. Very illustrative.
Good luck LW. 😊
I met too many people who acted in this way (about different things) to not give them a name. My BFF is a Peacock. A beautiful, magnificent, wonderful, supportive peacock but a peacock nonetheless. Her thing to throw Wahlberg-style tantrums about is making definite plans.. Eg: We’re planning on “going out” and I let her know I need to be home by 11pm, and it’s this whole ordeal about who can possibly know what we’ll be doing by then and what if a fun opportunity presents itself at 10:30 and that me, personally wanting to end my own night at a certain time means that I’m also asking her to go home and stare at the wall once that time has hit.
Me? I’m okay knowing my night ends at a certain time and planning activities to fit that constraint. She literally, physically writhes in discomfort at the concept of not “being able” to do something later if something else comes up. Making plans is a cage! She can’t be contained! She’s a peacock, I gotta let her fly!
I love her, but gosh are we very different people
Oooh, I know someone who is a peacock. We got into an argument once and she ended up throwing a temper tantrum because I pointed out that something she was doing was hurting my feelings. Literally I was the wronged party and she was the one throwing a fit. It was amazing.
God I hate that. So viscerally.
This is fabulous and reminds me of that “Brooklyn Performance Artist” who tried taking a full grown male peacock on a PLANE, claiming it was a mental comfort animal or something. I read that and went “there was a peacock trying to get on the plane all right but it wasn’t that poor bird.”
Yep. Their way is right and now the quarrel shifts from the problem at hand to a power struggle between two mortal enemies (in the mind of the peacock). They Stand Their Rhetorical Ground right out of a relationship that way, by making every difference of opinion an insurmountable problem that must be managed before anything else can get done. And then they’re churlish if they feel rebuffed or disrespected, which, again, is another distraction. There’s no room to live with someone if living adjacent to them and their hang-ups and one-sided feuds is this much work.
“he’s reacting as if you’re suggesting leaving 3 hours early to go to a movie five minutes down the road”
My husband once made us do this. We were two hours early for a movie at a theater literally just down the street from our home. Christmas Day a few years ago. We were seeing the first of the Start Wars movie sequels and he wanted to have first choice of the seats. We bought the tickets and because they weren’t letting anyone in the theater yet, he stood where the ticket taker booth was. I initially thought he was crazy until 20 minutes later when there were 15 people lined up behind him. LOL! I took our kids to the arcade and then got the concession stuff while he patiently stood there. He got us the best seats too. 😉
But yeah… LW’s guy is a peacock for sure.
Christmas Day is a whole different animal though. My friends and I were going to see a movie Christmas Day, and I was ready to go two hours early because I knew how bad the lines got. My roommate used those two hours to take a shower and take her time getting ready. I wasn’t used to Using My Words at the time and just kept getting more anxious until we got on the road fifteen minutes to showtime.
The theater was so packed when we got there, the only seats available were second row all the way to the left against the wall. Ever watch a whole movie resentfully? Yeah. I started speaking up after that, especially with ticket prices these days!
I’m so glad assigned seating is becoming a thing. We always buy our tickets online (worth the convenience fee to us) and pick the seats we want. If we don’t like what’s left we pick a different time.
(The theater we go to has recliners too. So comfy.)
LW – no, this is very much not normal behavior from your husband. I and my husband have the same sort of time conflict – I want to be on time or a little early, he wants to not ever wait around at all when he gets there. Yet we’ve been married for 26 years next week, and we have never once had an hour-long argument on the topic. Some days he grumbles and acquiesces, some days I’m a little anxious because he dragged his feet and we’re later than I’d like. I’ve learned to take a deep breath and live with sometimes being a little embarrassed about our arrival time. He’s learned that for some things, I will leave without him if he’s dawdling, and (usually) to pick it up a little for those sorts of events. You know – normal marriage give and take. “I’m right; you’re wrong, and never and inch shall be given” is not ever the way forward within a healthy relationship.
+1 to this. It’s 29 years next month but otherwise I could have written the above comment verbatim. Difference in time preference isn’t the problem here; it’s the unwillingness to compromise or even -discuss- which is the problem here.
Post Scriptum: congrats on your upcoming 26th anniversary Tapetum!
My spouse and I used to have this argument a lot, often for as long as OP, fixing it took the horror of being late due traffic and losing our places at a once in a lifetime event that cost hundreds of non-refundable pounds. Now we leave with time to spare because you never know what can make you 15 minutes late.
Holy shit, are you me?! You can’t be me, you seem like a much nicer person, but still.
I am more often than not the shaving it to the last second person, and Spouse is the leave 30-45 minutes early for a 15 minute drive type. If it’s super important to him that he be someplace early, or super important to me that I have my pre-going-out getting ready time, we just meet each other at our destination. If he’s not early, he stresses, if I’m rushed, I stress. To me it seems silly to take two cars from the same place to the same place, but happy spouse, happy house. We have never had even one hour long discussion about why he wants to leave earlier than I do, it’s “Hey I wanna get there by x time so do you think you can be ready by y time or should we take two cars?” or “I need until x to get ready do you mind waiting?” The end.
We’ve only been married two years, but same.
It’s weird, but this almost feels like those cartoon moments where there’s a fork in the path, and one way leads into a sunny meadow and the other into a dark creepy forest with cobwebs and thorns. And one character insists on going the creepy way…
We all took the Timing Differences Trail into the woods, but only the OP’s husband wanted to take the dark and spooky Let’s Fight About This Forever fork instead of the path through Reasonable People Meadow.
i have frequent bathroom trips and general social anxiety about plans and the idea of someone not even “letting” me include time to pee before something makes me feel PANICKY. like, not annoyed — unsafe.
Yeah, as a person with Bathroom Issues, I find it SO UPSETTING that the husband is trying to legislate the LW wanting to leave time to pee before events. This is not what even a minimally caring partner does.
I feel for you so much around this, LW. My ex would also play games with the “what time are we leaving” thing. While we didn’t have endless discussions about The One Proper Amount of Time It Takes to Get to a Place, he would exert control over the leaving time by, say, deciding he needed a shower five minutes before we were supposed to leave. Or, (my personal favorite) There is Only One Shirt He Must to Wear to This Event That He’s Known About for Weeks and it needs to be laundered. Seriously. The Captain is right; this is about control. You are not overreacting, and you’re definitely not the problem here. Jedi hugs in solidarity, if you want them.
This is classic manipulation. I’m glad he’s your ex.
seriously–it’s one of the examples Lundy Bancroft gives in “Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men”
Ironically, I just started reading that. It’s a real eye-opener.
Ugh. May I strangle your ex? Pretty please?
Be my guest. It’s more work than I’m willing to do… 🙂
Hey, @jennylinskyb, this is the second comment you’ve made where you joked about violence. Can you please refrain? I find it upsetting to be reading about emotional violence and see a response (even joking) of “well just use physical violence,” especially when it’s a specific “suggestion”. (FWIW I have a background in working with trauma, including family and partner violence, so I know I’m extra attuned, but there may be others who have the same response). Thanks.
Thank you for calling me out. I apologize for being offensive. I appreciate the correction.
Thanks for being cool! I appreciate you 🙂
I hope this nests properly.
Thank you Mo_Saurus and jennylinskyb for a calm exchange of request and answer. I know it can be hard to be polite when you are upset or feeling defensive, and I really appreciate this exchange because, in reading it, I am not feeling like I have to back away slowly from the computer.
same! thanks all around.
Such a rare thing among internet comments anymore. Must be why I keep coming back HERE.
yes, thanks for civility and graciousness and willingness to be flexible. Too bad LW’s hubs isn’t there yet.
My former husband was famous for having to go to the bathroom just as it was time to leave – – and this was a “long visit” that could take half an hour.
I’ve learned to calculate an extra 40 minutes before normal getting-ready initiation deadline, and I just tell my husband “We have to leave at X:00 – go start pooping now.”
Because he’s not a jerk, just really bad at recognizing what time it is and what his patterns are (I think he enters the bathroom to shower and his bowels are like, ‘Hey, this is the pooping place – time to poop!”), he listens to me and we wind up being on time now.
I really needed this post because my husband and I have the exact same argument… but I’m like the husband that I get annoyed at leaving super early for something when I could spend 10 more minutes at home. We have discussions about it.
Here’s the difference: I propose alternatives, and we compromise. I usually leave earlier than when I want to, while he leaves later than he wants to. We talk it out and decide based on the event. I don’t just tell him “No you have to leave when I say.” I think that’s the difference here.
It’s not the times you leave itself that is the control issue, it’s your husband not respecting your needs. OP, you are allowed to stick up for what you need.
Exactly! My former fiance is the “if you aren’t a half hour early, you’re late” type. I was fairly recently diagnosed with ADHD, and struggle with executive function. This includes estimating travel time, remembering to bring things until I am on my way out the door or already left, etc. The medication helps, and I have put a lot of thought and effort into changing my habits, setting event and appointment times early, setting alarms for a half hour before I need to leave, etc.
I get bored waiting, so I bring a book or web browse. It’s still a work in progress, but arguing that I objectively know the Right Time To Leave would be absurd.
Handy hint for remembering things you need to take with you: I have a spot on my kitchen counter which is the designated “stuff I’m taking with me” place. As soon as I realize I need to take something with me, I put it there. Stuff in a bag/backpack (like, workout clothes to change into after work) is hung on the door handle.
But the real trick is for things that can’t be piled on the counter or hung on a door handle: put your keys in/with it.
Food for the potluck? keys in the fridge. Giant box of everything? keys in the box. Clothing item I’m not going to wear out the door? keys on the hanger/in the pocket.
The LW’s husband is not being a good partner. His behavior shows serious disrespect for his wife; that’s really concerning.
My husband and I used to have this one too. Until we missed a flight. To Norway. And a whole day of our vacation. Now he actually listens to me most of the time on the ‘when to leave’ discussion. It sucks, but you may need your own serious missed event of your own! Good luck, this is a hard one.
Oh man that must have been a terrible dichotomy of feeling: on the one hand anger and frustration and embarrassment at missing a day of vacation and probably a lot of money, and on the other hand OH THE VINDICATION
My former neverending squabble with my husband about how it drove me up the wall that he never looked at his cell phone during the day, often not until 20 minutes after he got home from work ended similarly spectacularly. I was 8 months pregnant and got into a car accident and couldn’t get in contact with him.
On the one hand, it was scary and I wished he’d been able to be at the hospital with me. On the other hand, OH THE VINDICATION when he got home from work and I got to watch his face as he listened to the voicemails and read the texts he had missed.
Oh my goodness. None of my business but were you okay?
I was fine! Thank you for caring (: My car was little dinged up and “placental abruption” is a really terrifying phrase that gets thrown around when you get jostled while pregnant, but we were all okay. I was home and lounging on the couch watching TV by the time he got home from work (late) and got to have a VERY snotty response when he asked me how my day was.
I know this is somewhat off the point but …… what did he think the point of a cellphone was? I am genuinely curious.
A fun mobile Facebook machine? I’m honestly not sure. His mom is the same way–just leaves her cell in her dresser drawer. Which in general is “whatever”, people can be not-on-call if they want! But when your wife might go into labor, or you’re watching your grandchild (ahem, MIL) you should probably be able to be reached.
I suppose it may be different for a pregnant couple but I loathe it when my dad pulls the “what is a cellphone for?” line. It is actually for MY convenience, not your control. Calling me wouldn’t have prevented any accident that already occurred.
That said, I DO read my texts, and if one said “call me now” I’d get the hint.
To be perfectly honest, I’m ADHD and have trouble moderating my phone use. I find it much easier to lock my phone in my cabinet at the start of the day, and leave it there for eight or nine hours until I’m done, than to try and resist the urge to look at it during every scrap of free time I have and whoops there goes my prep period what happened to those copies I was supposed to make?
It was a hard decision for me to make, because I do like being socially connected, and with the amount I have to work outside of job hours, I am super low on social in the first place. But you can only go so many weeks behind on your grading before something needs to change, and I really don’t want the something to be my employment status.
All that being said, I have basically set my life up as to not have urgent obligations to any other person. Yes, I have partners, but they also have other partners, and I’m not the live-in with any of them. Yes I have roommates, but there’s four of us, so if there’s a weird landlord thing while I’m at work, it’s not dependent on just me to figure it out. I don’t have kids, or even pets, or ailing relatives who I’m the point-person for. I’m glad I’m able to just shut my distraction-box away, but I’d be more than willing to work something else out if I had a reasonable expectation of getting emergency calls.
(Just wanted to throw my .02 that it’s not just work preventing the phone use sometimes!)
I am curious about cellphone usage during work hours. At every job I’ve ever had, using a personal cellphone was grounds for instant termination.
There are jobs with that rule. I’ve never heard of one where you’d be fired for looking at your messages as soon as you left work, though.
Not everyone feels the need to check that way, but CMart knew her husband cared about this.
During breaks? During lunch? I’ve had those jobs too, and recall that they also usually had strictly scheduled breaks. Dude had opportunity to check.
We were expected to work through breaks/lunch if we got stuck on a call.
This is true of my current job, but having an 8-months-pregnant spouse would probably be considered an acceptable exception, along with other family and/or health stuff that might lend itself to sudden emergencies.
We were expected to give family the emergency number. Our supervisors would take those calls, then pass them on to us. No exceptions.
At every job I’ve had since college, nobody has cared even a little bit if you use your cellphone during work hours as long as you get your work done. It seems bizarrely punitive and infantilizing to me for a boss to assume that an adult can’t manage their cellphone usage responsibly. I know it’s a thing, I just side-eye the hell out of those bosses.
They didn’t want people taking photos of customer information and then selling it or doing something else illegal with it.
Ugh jennylinskyb, that sucks. It sounds like you’re doing the call center thing and I did that for many years. Very irritating. And if you’re in the US and paid hourly it’s definitely illegal for them to not let you take a break or lunch just because you happened to be on a call when the break was scheduled to happen.
I’ve done the call center thing. No more. 😀
A little late but in our particular case: he manages a tutoring center, he’s not guarding nuclear launch codes 🙂
I always understood that he can’t/shouldn’t be constantly checking his phone because it’s disruptive and rude to the students, but he wouldn’t even take a moment to check it at the end of the day. Lessons would end, he’d clean up, have a few back to back meetings with parents, drive home, and then maybe look at his phone after he’d gotten a bite to eat. Before I was pregnant, I would often send him texts asking him to run errands after work (“Hey, on your way home can you pick up TP?”) that he’d never see. Or we’d have a date planned for his usual arrival time and he’d show up 2 hours late without a peep that he’d be running late.
And then once I hit ~30 weeks pregnant, I asked him to whitelist my number so that if I called him, his phone would ring. I didn’t want to go into labor, or, idk, get into a car accident and be in an emergency situation and not be able to get a hold of him. He did not.
I work in retail and we’re not allowed to have our phones on the sales floor, to my understanding because customers perceive it as us being lazy and distracted from our jobs. The fact that the current generation of scanners are indistinguishable from smartphones makes this a little more bizarre to me, considering at least 20% of the customers assume it is my phone when I’m using one.
Smartphones are very distracting, so I can understand management’s policy in that case. Social media is not for work.
Ack! I did not mean you personally! I meant retail in general.
My job doesn’t have a policy, per se, but I work in dentistry and the idea of having my cell phone on me while attending to a patient just sounds Very Unsanitary. That being said, I can certainly check it at lunch breaks and during other downtime.
Ha, it’s so funny you mention this! There are a couple of people in my life who are “cut it as close as humanly possible” types. It usually ends with “uh oh cut it too far”.
It only takes 2 or 3 times of traffic or getting lost or waiting in line ending being late or locked out before a reasonable person admits their wrongness.
Life happens. If you are late you don’t want to have to miss out on the fun thing on top of that stress.
My mother used to lie to my stepfather about the start time of events. So they’d only be maybe 20 minutes late instead of an hour or so late.
But I agree that lying is not the best solution. I’m chronically late when left to my own devices, but so are most of my friends (some so late I just doing ever travel with them to things), so it’s all good. The few things in my life that I’m not late for (mostly carpool for work), I get incredibly anxious if people are even 5 mins late. I need a buffer of at least 30 mins, some of my coworkers like to leave as little as 5 minutes before we have to start. I make sure not to ride with those people.
I agree with the Captain’s suggestion that you go separately. With the addendum that you make sure you have *your* ticket & that you turn your phone off after one text letting him know where you’re seated/standing. He is totally doing this to assert his control over you, so you need to eliminate the routes he can take to exhibit that control. As well as be prepared for him finding alternate ways of controlling you.
And the Sheezelbub principle: How long are you willing to live this way?
My dance teacher lied about the start time for the recitals, so everyone would be there when the show started. She knew that if the show officially started at 2 people would be getting there at 2:15, so if you tell everyone it starts at 1:45 then in theory you’d have far fewer stragglers coming in late. Not gonna lie, I was okay with that deception.
Re: Start time lies: I went to a WEDDING like this once. The time on the invitation was, I don’t know, 5:00, let’s say. So, since my husband and I are normal people who respect start times of things like weddings, we showed up at 4:45 or thereabouts so we could be seated. Nope. Turns out the wedding was really secretly at 6:00 but because the bride’s whole family is a giant bunch of flakes, they put 5 on the invitation so they’d get there somewhere close to “on time.” End result: wedding started at SIX THIRTY because flakes and groom’s angry family and friends had been sitting in a church waiting for this stupid wedding to start for nearly two hours.
I forgot that this story sends me in to a blind rage.
I have never heard of anyone using the lie-about-the-time technique on a wedding invitation! What the actual fuck were they thinking?!?!? that they didn’t even have the courtesy to at least tell the groom’s family and not flakes to not bother to show until 6 is mind-boggling. They effed over every rational person they know for the benefit of a scramble of flakes, who probably were never even aware of the mess they were responsible for. My money says that the happy couple are no longer a couple?
My grandmother was terminally late her entire life. My aunt told her that if she was late to Aunt’s wedding, Aunt would never speak to her again. It was the only time in her life that she was on time.
I actually wanted to do that at my own wedding, but only by 15 minutes. But then my wedding planner just starting sending people down the aisle at 3.
“A scramble of flakes” is my favorite phrase of the day. XD Thank you for that.
Oh man, that’s the sort of thing where they should have had TWO sets of invites printed (and possibly a pre-reception with pre-wedding cake.)
Had there been pre-wedding cake (or, tbh, a pre-wedding bar), it would have ended up just as a funny story. Instead it’s, “oh, Fergus and Lucinda will be there? Are they gonna be on time or do they have their own separate fake start time?” Because this was a family wedding it invariably comes up at family events with different family members saying different versions of this.
Yeah, that’s totally one of those stories with a ~15 year half-life.
No, I mean, the solution is to have a “buffer event” ie, reception for one hr then actual serious thing X. So there’s something for folks who show up on time to do and have fun with and that chronically-late people want to go to but it doesn’t really matter what time they get there. The solution is pretty much never lying (or if it really is, then that relationship probably needs to be severed ASAP)
I’ve told this story on twitter, but I attended a wedding once that started 5 hours late. I just RTed it if anyone wants to hear about The Worst Wedding.
I honestly needed a stiff drink after reading that.
We had to stop twice for bottled water on the drive home. I was so dehydrated I couldn’t even.
Novel, that is a HORRIBLE story! But I’m fascinated. Is there ANY way to find
out if the marriage is still a
I could probably figure it out through a combination of facebook stalking and checking some listserv archives. Today is my Day Of All The Meetings so I can probably get to it in a few hours.
They appear to be separated, but they seem to have been still together as late as 2015, which I find shocking if true (it’s hard to say based on information). The wedding was probably sometime between 2003-2005.
Sweet Sally McBride. That wins the internet.
Oh, dear. I’m genuinely worried about this. I’m getting married in August and my uncle and his family on my mothers side are habitually late for christmas dinner that my mum slaves over all day, every single year. Last christmas, I just snapped and insisted we started dinner, because we were all starving and sick of waiting and hoping they’d show up for hours. It’s definitely a power play (I think it’s my uncle who’s behind it). I don’t know if they’d go as far as walking in in the middle of the ceremony, but who knows? I definitely would not wait for even a minute.
I have a vision of a door person who has strict instructions not to admit latecomers, like an usher at a really strict theatre. “If you guys don’t show up on time, you will not be attending my wedding. Hope to see you!” Because hell no. Good for you for refusing to play the game.
I wish you the most tranquil possible wedding day, entirely devoid of family (or any other) drama, plus lots of happiness.
Awww, thank you.
The thought of a big, gnarly bouncer crossed my mind, too. Nice fantasy, but unfortunately more drama than it’s worth. They are otherwise great people and I do want them at my wedding. I think I may just talk to my one reasonable cousin and ask him to be in charge of getting everyone there on time.
Aww, I’m sorry you’re worrying about this. An interruption in the ceremony like someone coming in late might not be as dreaded as it seems, though. During my ceremony an unattended dog gallivanted through the middle of it and I didn’t even notice; I got bitten by a swarm of gnats and didn’t care. Maybe it’s an adrenaline thing. Here’s hoping your uncle doesn’t bother you during your ceremony!
Here’s to hoping that a dog (goat? Pony?) does randomly show up. That would make my day! 🙂
I don’t think I’d be too fussed about people being late in general. Many guests will have to travel quite far, so I would absolutely understand if they were late. My uncle lives in the same town, so any lateness would be deliberate.
But you are right – I probably won’t notice much with everything else going on. And me not reacting will probably annoy my uncle, so that’s a bonus.
Llama. I hope for a llama.
You can scope out the venue for side entrances and have an usher keeping an eye open for them if they haven’t arrived on time, who can show them quietly to their seats. I’ve also seen people use a velvet rope or garland of flowers to block the center aisle after the wedding party has gone up. With usher who is paying attention to take is down when the ceremony ends of course!
Good luck and congratulations!
Oh geeze, *never* reward people for being late!
At work, they get to the meeting late? DO NOT recap for them what they missed. That’s just being mean to everyone else.
Family dinner, with hungry people and food getting cold? DO NOT wait for them. Eating cold food won’t hurt them.
Maybe the bride and groom figured it was the best option, since the bride’s family would rain down everlasting rage and guilt trips if they started the wedding without them. Telling the groom’s side of the family the real time would have gotten out, thus defeating the purpose of reigning in the flakes.
It sounds like the flaky family showed up on time, though? (Like, the time printed on the invitation.) So all this couple managed to do is upset and confuse everyone.
It sounds as though they showed up half an hour late even for that: the announced time was five, the intended time was six, and the wedding started at 6:30.
If they had all shown up at six, the wedding would probably have started at about 6:10, so the technically on time guests could be seated, because I doubt they’d have been quietly OK with “the wedding has already started, you’ll need to stand in back until the wedding party reach the front of the room, and then file into the back pews, please.” Most people realize that if a wedding (or any event in which your role is audience) starts at six, it’s a good idea to be there at least a few minutes early so you’ll have time to sit down. This is why a lot of performances advertise times like “doors will open at 7:40 for an 8:00 curtain.” It’s difficult to enforce the “latecomers will be seated at the discretion of the management” part for a family wedding, though.
No, the BRIDE’s family was flakes. The GROOM’s family all showed up on time, and ended up staring at the church walls for hours.
My mother thought that was standard. “We’ll put 11:00 AM on the invitation and the ceremony will start at 11:30.” I was a stage manager all through HS and college and all my friends knew that when I ran the house, the curtain went up at the published curtain time, not a minute later. I explained that anyone who knew me would expect an 11:00 AM ceremony to start at 11:00 AM, and it was up to her to make sure her friends and family knew it, too. Ceremony started at 11:00 with everyone in their seats.
Why did they miss the opportunity to marry without the rude people there?! I would have loved saying ‘you missed a great ceremony!’
Oh, the on-time wedding. I feel your pain.
This is a Thing in my community… but the bride and groom will discuss their family’s typical timeliness patterns, and if there is a conflict, the ‘on time’ partner will have to take the extra step of contacting their guests that the ridiculously early time is a tactic, not a start time.
My wife is an immigrant from a Caribbean Island and the “wrong time on wedding and baptism invitations” is fairly common in their culture. The invitation is often off by 2 hours and people are still late because, well, everyone’s always late for everything. We’ve been very, very happily married for 25 years but the time thing took a lot of conversations early on. Basic rule is that we don’t look at the clock when we’re staying with her side, we are on time when staying with my side. At home she pushes herself to be on time if there’s a definite start time and I do my best to suppress my anxiety about being late if it’s a cookout or some such. The only time we don’t have a smooth take off is if we’re heading out for the long drive to visit either side. In that instance, I’m pacing for hours and she’s got one more thing to do. Otherwise we’ve come to a good compromise on the time issue and pretty much everything else works wonderfully. The key is to make sure that neither one is feeling disrespected as we work out the specifics.
BTW, her sister once missed two flights on the same day. Missed a flight, rescheduled, talked my wife into squeezing in a visit to a mall, missed the next one. This was before 9/11 so security lines can’t be blamed.
I’d been thinking about cultural differences in time management. As you say, it’s a matter of being aware and adjusting accordingly.
I go to a lot of events associated with a culture that does not run on western standards of punctuality. When we get an invitation, we know to ask “is that western time or [x] time?” If it’s western time, we arrive at the stated time. If it’s [x] time, we aim for two hours later.
Missing two flights in one day must be a record.
I also went to a wedding like this! The time discrepancy was a bit better (like 5:00 on the invitations for an expected 5:30 start, and they started at 5:45), but the reasoning behind it was similar. Luckily the maid of honor let the plan slip to me, so we got there around 5:20, but there were guests who showed up early for the published start time and ended up having to wait a solid hour for the wedding to start. The additional twist is that we had our three-year-old with us (who had been quite explicitly invited), so we were apparently supposed to figure out how to amuse a small child for close to an hour on top of everything else. I was SO grateful we found out about it and could show up “late” and let the kid run around outside for a bit.
I had a Doctor’s office once that lied. I made an appointment, scheduled for 2:00 PM, I arrived at 1:45. At 2:15 I went to the desk to let them know I was 15 minutes past my scheduled app’t. They chipperly informed me that my app’t was at 2:15, they just “tell all patients the appointment is 15 minutes earlier to make sure they are on time”
Never has an office gotten such an earful from me before. Applying the Sheelzebub principle, I have a different doctor now.
What a terrible strategy! They should just charge for lateness, that’s what my doc does. Seems to work!
On the other hand, it’s much worse when you’re told your surgery appointment is at 2:00, then they call you at 1:15 and ask why you’re not there yet, and you discover that 2:00 is when you’re scheduled to be unconscious on the operating table, and they expected you to intuit the arrival time required for pesky extras like IVs and anesthesia.
I would much rather wait an extra 15 minutes in the waiting room than arrive sobbing from stress (this was to place my port for chemo so I was on the edge and this was all it took to push me firmly into Crying Loudly In Public territory).
Holy cats, that’s awful. I hope things worked out for you.
Jedi hugs if you want them. In the meantime, I’ll go punch some medical schedulers for you.
Thanks! It was three years ago, and so far so good!
I can laugh about it now but the hospital’s patient communication system was so broken – after I arrived crying, they started prepping me, but then found out I’d eaten lunch that day (they never sent me instructions not to, and this was an office procedure, so I didn’t assume it required NPO). They had to send me home with my IV in (since it was so hard to place it), and have me come back the next day.
When I came back, the front desk wanted me to pay a portion up front. I’m pretty sure gouts of hellfire boiled up in my eyes as I said, “How about we see if you all manage to set it up properly this time so we can actually DO the procedure, then I’ll pay you when it’s complete.” The lady did not argue with me!
OMG? *jedi hugs if wanted*
I’ve had a chemo port. I’m so sorry your hospital was so horrible at communicating(and also, so grateful for my medical team and support circle).
WHAT. Those are incompetent, evil people. It is SOP to tell patients “we need you here at x time for prep which will be these things, the procedure will likely start at y time”.
My dentist’s office does that. I know because I could see the note in the computer that said to tell me my appointments were ten minutes earlier than they actually are. Now, I did have a couple of appointments that I was about 5 minutes late to, but there is a railroad between where I work and the dentist office, and a train was stopped on it. I’m always on time/early since then. Yet the infuriating little note persists.
I loathe doctor’s visits for this reason, as I suspect that a number do this, because I have only ever had appointments start on time with my last therapist. Every other visit has started between 15 minutes and an hour late.
I’ve never really had this happen to me. I did have one psychiatrist who was chronically running late, and since I needed to be gone by a certain time I Scheduled my appointments earlier than I actually wanted to make sure I wasn’t late to pick DH up from work. (I still arrived on time just in case. I currently see different doctors at the same practice and usually I get in when I’m scheduled to, so I know it’s not the front desk).
Despite all the scheduling issues I had with her, I actually kinda miss her.
My dentist’s office “lies” about time of appointments. It took me a few appointments of consistently not starting until 15 minutes past the scheduled time to notice, but apparently they always book for things like 12:45 when you’ll really start at 1 pm.
I’d MUCH prefer transparency along the likes of “your appointment is at 1, please allow 15 minutes beforehand for check in” or something like that.
Fake start times are infantile and more trouble than they’re worth
I can understand saying “get there fifteen minutes early to check in,” or building in cushions between appointments because you never know when a patient is going to say oh, by the way, I’ve been turning into a werewolf lately and suddenly you need a LOT more time with them, but BE HONEST ABOUT IT. Say that there are windows between appointments to prevent runover!
Or when your 1pm, 1:30, and 2pm all come in at 2:15 XP
Cushion between appointments? Ha! A lot of doctors seem to double book. Apparently enough people flake or arrive late that they think this is necessary.
I had one that used to change appointments after they were made, and not tell you. After this happened a couple of times I felt I was being gaslighted (gaslit?) so I got the receptionist to write the appointment on a card. Next time I turned up and she pulled the “Oh, no, your appointment is 2.30” thing I showed her the card in her own writing with “2 o’clock” written on it. I then protested that they were being disrespectful of my time and I was not only seen immediately but given a discount on the fee. Thank goodness I was able to leave them – for other reasons – soon afterwards.
I recently fired a hairstylist for pulling that crap. I was on my way for the appointment (on a bus, so there’s nothing I can do about my arrival time at that point), and she calls me to ask why I’m late (quoting a time 1 hour before the actual appointment time and 30 minutes before the earliest I could get there after work.) Then she went into, “Well, I can still fit you in if you can get here in the next 10 minutes. I said, “Well, I’m on a bus, and my ETA is 20-25 minutes. There’s nothing I can do to speed that up, so I guess I’m not coming in today.” I got off at the next stop, headed home, and started looking for a new stylist online.
I had that happen once (so I think it was a fluke) at the dentist. I normally schedule my appointments at 8:30am (first slot, miss much less work time that way), and for some reason had scheduled one at 11:30am that day. Got a call at 8:35am asking where I was, I panicked but made it over in less than 10 minutes, all the while thinking “I thought this one was at 11:30…???” but didn’t make a big deal about it. Later I checked the slip and, yup, appointment was for 11:30.
My doctor’s office used to do the “your appointment is at x, please come 15 minutes early to check in” thing, but I think people didn’t remember, or didn’t bother, or something. I certainly forgot half the time. So now the check-in time is what we’re told and what’s written on the card.
I prefer it this way, personally. Not only does it help me be on time – I’m usually an early-to-appointments person, but sometimes I get distracted – but it helps other people be on time, which means my appointment won’t be delayed by their tardiness.
I tried this with my ex, who was an hour late to everything, all the time, world without end amen. I told him an event we were meeting at started at 3:15 when it was really 4:15.
He showed up at 5:30. So that didn’t work.
Personally, I think it can be fun to meet your partner somewhere—it can feel more like a date than leaving the house together. When my husband and I do it, it reminds me of the early days of our relationship (a very happy time for both of us) when I would go over to his house after work on a Friday for the weekend (he’d come to mine during the week). Sometimes we’d meet up somewhere in the middle for dinner or drinks or something. I’m just offering this as a possible way to reframe it.
In this LW’s place, I would stop justifying and arguing and simply present it as a fait accompli: “The event starts at 8, but I’m going to leave here at 7:15.” When the inevitable push-back happens, I’d simply repeat, “You don’t have to leave with me, but that’s when I’m going,” and “I like having the buffer. You don’t have to join me for it,” until he runs out of argumentative steam. This would also extend to not tolerating complaints if he leaves with me or indulging text-based drama about his arrival time. In those cases, the scripts are, “You knew I wanted a time buffer. I told you that you didn’t have to come with me. I don’t want to hear any more complaining about the choice you freely made,” and a text message of, “Great. I’m sitting in X location at the venue. See you when you get here!” and then silence afterwards (unless there’s a genuine emergency).
I like this script a lot.
I’m the LW and you all are AWESOME. It is wonderful to have people raging on my behalf. And posting awesome horror stories about weddings. As I live with him I have to disagree that he’s a controlling monster; a lot of this comes out of his “I want five more minutes to sleep” insomnia issues and hating to sit down for long periods (it’s not a physical ailment, but he sometimes gets up mid-movie to stand in the back, for example).
That said, I am incredibly heartened by all of your scripts and I’m responding directly to Tea Rocket because both Tea and the Captain have summarized things I absolutely want to remember. This is all great stuff and I’m slowly reading every word. MANY THANKS TO YOU ALL!
I’m glad he’s not generally a jerk! Insomnia is awful, pain from sitting long periods is awful, but taking all of that out on you is also awful! (The time he spends arguing you could also be sleeping time) Like, maybe he needs to dial back his social commitments for a while as he works on insomnia, if the thought of leaving 5 minutes earlier or sitting for a long period is making him feel panicky and upset. He can use his words and say so, then. “No, I’d rather stay in, but you have fun!” “Can you drive, I’ll sleep in the car on the way!” There are lots of possible solutions to this impasse. Trying to Logic(tm) you into leaving at the last second is not one of them. Good luck working it out!
Pain and tiredness do make people inconsiderate like nothing else. If he doesn’t enjoy the arguments for themselves he’ll appreciate the change. Is it an idea to eliminate morning stuff? And stationary activities with no opportunity to move?
He might not BE a jerk as a fundamental personality thing, but he is BEING a jerk to you.
What you say is exactly right, but don’t minimize the distinction! Someone who *is* a jerk needs to be dumped immediately. Someone who *is being* a jerk needs to recognize the problem and fix it, and sometimes that takes outside help, like a spouse or a book or a counselor. In this particular case, maybe a dr to help manage the insomnia?
The hard part, as always, is telling the two apart. (Before you are in too deep)
This! Even if sleeping as long as possible is extremely important to husband, even if he can’t stand to sit for very long, the way he’s treating LW is still *stunningly* selfish. First of all, it’s 10 fucking minutes, just do it. It cannot possibly be worth having an hour-long discussion about 10 minutes when you could be doing literally anything else. I’d personally rather watch paint dry than argue about the right time to leave.
Second of all, it’s 10 minutes that makes his spouse, the person he supposedly loves, happy. By making this enormous deal of it every time LW wants to leave a little early (just a little!), he’s saying that 10 minutes of his time is more important than LW not feeling stressed about getting to the event on time, having time to go to the bathroom/find their seat/etc. That’s some serious jerk behaviour and you know, if it really was just about not wanting to sit for too long at a stretch, the obvious answer would be to leave separately. When that gets shot down, I just can’t help thinking there’s something else going on here.
This is all solid advice, awesomely stated.
Your husband is being a jerk. Do not accept his behavior as something you need to change about yourself. You aren’t asking to leave an unreasonable amount of time early. You are asking for a buffer, which is a completely valid idea many people do we going to an outing. There is no reason for him to argue about a ten minute window other than he wants to be a jackass about it.
Honestly, I’m a bit vindictive when angry, but I would just uninvite him to things if he argues with you. ‘Hey, I want to leave at 7 for the movie tonight” “No, We should leave at 7:15, we don’t need to waste the time there” would end with “You know what, I’ll get Sally to go with me instead. You can stay home. I don’t want to have this fight again.”
Yeah, as a chronically late person, it’s the ten-minute window that’s blowing me away a little. I’ve had friends where I’ve had to explain to them that if game night starts at 7, they cannot arrive at my house at 4:30; their stance was “early is always good!” and mine is “the invitation wasn’t for that time, therefore you’re showing up uninvited”. The times that there have been knock-em-down-drag-em-out fights in my family over when to leave for the airport have been more like “half an hour in advance, or six hours in advance?” Ten minutes? Jesus, the argument takes longer than ten minutes. Just go.
I once did that for a church meeting due to Daylight Savings Time changing to Standard time. I ended up waking up the pastor and his wife an hour early. Oops!
I once mis-read an invitation and showed up at a party 24 hours early. One of the hosts and I had a lovely time shopping at the farmers’ market for the food I got to eat when I came back the next day!
I showed up at a wedding to take photos on Saturday instead of Sunday! (I did make it there on time on Sunday.)
There is no way these fights take less than the 5 minutes he is trying to shave off their schedule. I boggle at how many minutes of both their lives is he making stressful unnecessarily!
I am a habitually late person partnered with an anxious on-time person. And he knows when he says “we need to leave at 4:10”, I’m usually going to come downstairs AT 4:10, having tried hard and ACHIEVED that time for his sake. And then I’ll go “oh yeah I need a coat” and then he’ll say “where did you put the present?” and we’re out the door at 4:12. If he would have said 4:15 if he didn’t know I’m me, I don’t have to know, that’s fine.
What I’m saying is: being early or on time to things is objectively better than stressing out, hitting the bad traffic and despairing, and sliding in like a baseball player stealing a base. It is SO much more pleasant. I am still working on getting places earlier/on time when I’m by myself because the last thing I need in the year of our horror 2018 is extra, avoidable stress. But when I’m with my partner I know my more usual actions — my optimism, just-one-more, procrastination, et cetera — have a disproportionate impact on him, and always have. SO I GIRD MY LOINS.
As a fellow late person, I find this guy incredibly annoying. I cast him out of the Late Person Order. His staff is broken.
“His staff is broken”—as a slowly/mostly reformed late person myself, this made me LOL. 😂
Hi! I’m a fellow late person as well! In my case it comes from an inability to gauge the passage of time. This splashes over into being able to tell how long it will take to do a thing whether it’s a task, a drive time or complete a project. I also get lost in my month and generally only have a very vague notion as to whether we’re at the beginning, middle or end of any given month.I’ve been this way my whole life and I’ve tried every trick in the book to make myself more aware of and in tune with the passage of time. Some things have helped, most have not. I try very hard as my husband and children are more on the early people end of the scale. They try very hard to be understanding. Being too early makes me anxious and being right on time makes them anxious so we try to find a somewhere in the middle time. And they help me with reminders and prompts which I really appreciate. If we’re going somewhere, I generally trust their estimates and timeframe so they’re not stressed out…..I bring a book with me just in case we end up being uncomfortably early for me. The best trips that the hubs and I take together are the ones where he lets go of time and schedules and lives in my world for a few days. We stop when we’re tired and find a room, get up the next day and explore the area, eat when we’re hungry, get off the beaten path and explore some more, stop anywhere that looks interesting, head back to the room when we’re tired…..and get up the next day and go looking for the next adventure! There’s room for both types of people and making an effort to see the world from the other’s perspective is always a good thing. Unfortunately, the husband in the above letter doesn’t sound like an early person or late person….he sounds like a controlling jackass. I second the casting out of this person from the Late Person Order. Not only should his staff be broken, he should be made to wear the mark of the Jackass so that all who are him shall know him for what he is.
“Not only should his staff be broken, he should be made to wear the mark of the Jackass so that all who are him shall know him for what he is.”
Now I’m wondering what precisely the mark of the Jackass looks like. 😉
That being said, I agree. This guy is a jerk; decent human beings who are bad at time management (for whatever reason) don’t spend an hour arguing over a ten-minute change in walk-out-the-door time ONCE, never mind repeatedly.
The rearview of a donkey tattooed on his forehead?
Totally going to start using “His staff is broken.”
I’m a habitually late person COMBINED with an anxious on time person (such fun.) with all the habitually late friends & partner. getting places is.. interesting. I’ve done a similar not-quite-lie to the one your husband uses (I can’t take the guilt of an outright lie, so I say “meet at [T minus chaos margin]”, or once “the show starts at about 7” where 7:30 = “about 7”).
Mr LW is not one of us. he was never on of us.
I have gotten to the point where I can actually tell my spouse, “It starts at 8, but if I put it on the calendar for 7:30, and we *pretend* it is a 7:30 start time, we should be able to get there by 8.” We both forget it actually starts at 8 and are pleasantly surprised when we arrive on time.
Oh! I was going to say that this is a toothpaste issue (*), one where the OP can just drop the attempt at negotiating one departure and assume that they’ll always travel separately. He may or may not get there on time, OP doesn’t take responsibility for that, and gradually all their friends and associates stop treating them as one unit for which the OP can speak. In some ways it’s an appealing solution because it gives them the chance to have fun together or the OP to have fun separately, while avoiding the conflict.
But after I read the Captain’s answer, I could see that the Captain’s proposed course of action is more likely to lead to substantive change with just as much short-term low-stress enjoyment, so I like that better. Instead of making your own plans for something that he can join you at, you make your own plans without expectations for him at all (Not – “I got two tickets, yours is on the fridge”, but “I got a ticket and I’m going to the Friday show.”) Because if he’s pushing back consistently like this on the timing of plans, he’ll probably push back on everything else about them. “Why did you book the early show, I want to go to the one in the 3D auditorium, and I want to book it on points, can you call them back?” So this is more like a tomato soup issue (**) than a toothpaste issue.
I also like the idea of re-evaluating after some time with the new system, whatever you try, and considering whether it’s worth getting help to manage the ongoing/repeating conflicts on a bigger-picture level.
(*) toothpaste issue: A young couple with comfortable incomes move in together and attempt to agree on a flavour of toothpaste, before realizing that families don’t need to share toothpaste since they can afford two tubes and it doesn’t really go bad. They later discover that this also makes it easier for them to have their own preferences of how to squeeze the tube and where to put the lid, and eventually that children can also be given autonomy over their toothpaste selection, and that this set of choices doesn’t make them less intimate or give them bad habits for other group problem-solving but in fact gives them more tools.
(**) tomato soup issue: My family made it with milk. His family made it with water. Neither of us liked the taste of each other’s tomato soup – we tried! We gave up on eating tomato soup together, which led to us giving up on eating grilled cheese sandwiches together. We had to figure out new lunch menus.
Your tomato soup example made me laugh. I grew up eating tomato soup made with water, and even now, as an adventurous eater, do not enjoy creamy tomato soup (except from Panera, because of the croutons). A few years ago I was visiting my mom and she was making tomato soup. I saw her reach for the milk and asked if she could make mine with water, as I don’t like it with milk. She was horrified, because in her mind liking tomato soup made with water is a sign that you grew up too poor to afford extra milk (spoilers: I did, although I certainly don’t assume the same about anyone else with the same preference), and how could I have not made the transition to soup made with milk now that I was a comfortably-incomed person? Whereas in my mind, she was ruining one of my favorite meals from childhood.
It’s so interesting you say that! My mom grew up in a poor dairy farming family. They couldn’t afford much meat or fresh vegetables, so milk (which was readily available) was put into everything—soup, rice, oatmeal, everything—to try to stretch some extra calories out of that 10 cent tin of condensed Campbell’s. I grew up, then, with a “weird” taste around several foods (like rice) that seem bland and watery to me if they aren’t made with milk. Adding milk to everything showed my family’s poverty rather than the other way round.
I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s experiences around this kind of thing. I also think (to bring it back to the letter) that it’s a good illustration of how people aren’t “right” or “wrong” about these things. It often boils down to personal preference and past experience, not an objective Correct Way To Think. That’s why marriage relies so heavily on compromise and generosity.
But I’m getting too OT and apologise!
You just made me homesick for the past. Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches- I do not know anyone in my current country who has this combination for lunch. Or any other meal. And it is so good! (And the milk tomato soup thing- yes, I prefer water, but mother grew up poor, so *she* thought making it with milk-or egg! was a treat)
Make half the can with water and half the can with milk? (If you’re using cans.)
I wanted to scream in frustration just reading this post—I can’t imagine living it. OP, your husband is a jackass.
You are being reasonable here, but even if you weren’t—you don’t have to be! It’s reasonable just because it’s what makes you comfortable! You don’t need to “prove” it to anyone. The fact that your husband is turning this into a constant Man Logic Debate tells me this isn’t actually about being on time at all.
Look, I’m an anxious traveller. I missed a flight once and it was the most hellish experience ever; I’m afraid of it ever happening again, and I take steps to alleviate my anxieties around this. That means leaving for the airport about an hour before most other people would. My husband always asks what time we should leave and suggests a “normal” time, and I bump it up by 45-60 minutes. All I have to say to him is, “I know I’m probably overshooting it, but I would be much more comfortable if we left at 5 AM instead of 5.45.” He cheerfully agrees, gets up at 4.15 to get all the last minute stuff done, and when we are through check in and security and still have two and a half hours before they even display our gate, he serenely finds a table, asks if I want to join him in a beer, opens a book, and kicks back for the wait.
Because to him, he would rather wait 2.5 hours somewhere than have me stressed out over time.
That’s how it SHOULD be. That’s how your husband SHOULD be reacting, because that’s the normal and human way to react! Like Captain said, this is about so much more than what time to leave home.
I’m like that with checking in luggage ever since my ex-husband and I lost our luggage on a vacation to Mexico. Poor guy had to spend the first three days at the airport getting it back!
Ever since, I refuse to check luggage. If left to my own devices, I would simply pack a week’s worth of clothes and some toiletries in my overnight bag and only carry it, plus my backpack. My wife has actually told me to pack more things!
I once went on a short Caribbean cruise with a friend; including travel to and home from the port city, we would be away five days. I arrived with a backpack and a large purse; he brought a backpack, a messenger bag and a duffel. I looked at this last object in particular taking up what felt like three quarters of the floor space of our tiny cabin, and he said, “I know it’s a lot, but I like to be prepared.”
Prepared for what, an impromptu hockey game?!
My ex-husband would pack one change of clothes in a backpack for a trip that lasted a week. I pack a bit more than that, but still on the light end for a cisgendered woman.
I’m confused why your cis-ness is relevant here? Do you think trans women would pack less, or…?
I don’t understand why gender comes into play at all.
It’s the stereotype of women packing ten million suitcases, with 99% of said suitcases for makeup and shoes.
Trans women are women; a stereotype like that about women is a stereotype about trans women as much as cis women, so your cis-ness is really not relevant here at all, and marks out trans women as different from you in a way that is confusing and not cool.
I am aware that women are women no matter their status. I apologize for mentioning my cis-ness and being offensive. Thank you for calling me out. I appreciate the correction.
LW, you say that you and husband “generally get along great.” I’m trying to see how arguing with you for an hour about what time to leave for each and every event you attend falls under the category of “getting along great” because it doesn’t appear that way to me. Maybe you should apply the Sheelzebub rule: if he’s still arguing with you like this after a year, would you still want to be in the relationship? Is everything else in your relationship so great that it’s worth having this argument all the time? This is not a normal way to conduct a relationship. I agree with others that it seems like your husband just enjoys arguing, or else why wouldn’t he have stopped doing this after the first time you asked him to please stop because it stresses you out?
And the fact that he doesn’t seem to care that a) having the One True Perfect Departure Time Argument stresses you out AND b) not having a buffer time when getting to events stresses you out – well, I’d objectively call him a jerk.
Also, as a perpetual single person who has done a number of fun vacation trips on my own, I would suggest that in addition to doing what Captain said and planning your own events for a month without husband, you attempt a trip on your own if you are able. Even just a weekend or a night away for you to do something you want to do on your own time and without worrying about what anyone else wants to do is such an enjoyable experience I would recommend it for anyone. And maybe even don’t tell husband about the trip until the day you are leaving, if you can, to avoid having any kind of argument about it. Just, “Oh, hey, husband, I won’t be home tonight. See you Sunday” or whatever.
Best of luck, LW!
This was my thought too, although I didn’t want to suggest she leave him. In a healthy relationship a person doesn’t want to keep harming their partner, especially after they have said that whatever they’re doing is stressing them out. Ignoring that is being selfish and just wanting what they want, just to have what they want.
But there is so much about their relationship that we don’t know/was left unsaid, so I would suggest taking it to a counselor.
My first thought about Captain’s suggestion of a marriage counselor is that that would be yet one more event that husband would need to fight about getting to on time so how would that help? But LW could go to a counselor on her own no matter what.
And you’re right, so much is left unsaid about their relationship and it could be that he’s a truly wonderful person aside from this not-very-nice character flaw, but evidence points to the contrary, sadly.
“What time do we need to leave to get to the marriage counsellor” can be the subject for the first meeting! Give a live demonstration of the problem…
Wow, that’s a great point about “making it on time to the marriage counselor” suddenly being a fight too. LW: I suggest scheduling all counseling appointments so that you have to meet up at the office instead of traveling together. Husband does not need to know that you are intentionally choosing said appointment times and he definitely doesn’t need to know WHY. Frankly, you don’t need to answer any questions about why you scheduled something when you did beyond saying “It was just the best option at the time; I don’t remember why.”
So, “he asked me to explain to him every time that this leaving time is important to me and it will stress me if I don’t leave at this particular time.” made my skin crawl. He KNOWS that it’s important to you, and that it stresses you not to leave with a little extra time. What he is asking here is for you to perform a dance of self-justification, thus acknowledging his authority as the Keeper of the One True Departure Time.
I’m going to somewhat annoyingly copy+paste part of a comment I left on a different thread the other day, because it’s where my mind jumped, and I want to underline the Captain’s point that the argument itself is the goal here. It’s not just about controlling when you leave, it’s about controlling how you feel-when you’re arguing, when you’re making plans, and when you’ve finally made it to your destination. Possibly I’m projecting. Let’s find out!
I’ve been in a situation where one pattern was:
(1) X does something X knows will upset me ->
(2) I get upset ->
(3) X berates me for my inappropriate emotional reactions ->
(4) X magnanimously forgives me for my inappropriate emotional reactions (reserving my inappropriate emotional reaction for re-use in later beratements.)
This Worked So Well. After a while, X could skip step 3 if they felt like it, because it was implied by then-I would do step 3 all by myself! So, when X skipped ahead to forgiving me for something I was already berating myself about, boy oh boy did they look like the greatest, most forgiving partner ever.
The important step there was Step 1. Everything else in that pattern could have been chalked up to me being overly emotional and overreacting to nothing, and X being at the end of their rope with such an overemotional emotionbag, and us being a bad match due to my emotionbag of overflowing wrongness, or whatever the what. But once I realized Step 1 was happening on purpose, the rest of it took on a very different light.
I think your husband is doing this on purpose.
“I think your husband is doing this on purpose.”
I agree. Not cool.
I love this answer. This requires thinking of one’s relationships in the form of a math equation, and not everyone can wrap their head around that/are too close to the problem to do it, but still its very helpful. Once you identify the steps in the equation, all you have to do is find the motivation behind only one of the steps to stop the entire process..
Unfortunately it’s hard to break it down when you’re still in it (I didn’t until much later).
But yeah, I feel like when you can lay out the facts of What Just Happened, sometimes there’s one thing that just doesn’t make sense unless one of your basic assumptions is wrong, like that your partner is arguing in good faith, or that you’re not accidentally married to an alien whose language uses all the same words and grammar as English, except the nouns, verbs and adjectives mean different things and also on their planet yelling is an expression of love.
The possibilities, they are endless. Also cognitive behavioral therapy is the best, and probably how I learned to do that (along with my lifelong obsession with mystery novels).
This is a wonderfully eloquent way of describing this type of (abusive!) behaviour, thank you.
I…that pattern. You just clearly laid out something I went through, but couldn’t conceptually verbalize. I’m glad I have therapy today, my therapist is in for a doozy now.
I also agree! I’m a Bad With Time person, and I’m friends with many Very On Time or Early persons. When they suggest showing up early for this or that, there’s a part of me that rolls my eyes because why do we need to get somewhere quite so early? But then I remember that leaving exactly when I want means only one real positive (I get an extra 15 minutes to sleep/get ready/watch my stories) and lots of negatives (hitting traffic/forgetting something/being late).
But most importantly, I know it means a lot more to them that we’re on time or early than it means to me that we do what I want. LW, you two are arguing about time but, it’s like the Captain said, that’s not what this is really about. I think you’re going to have to get your husband to acknowledge that before you move forward.
(1) X does something X knows will upset me ->
(2) I get upset ->
(3) X berates me for my inappropriate emotional reactions ->
(4) X magnanimously forgives me for my inappropriate emotional reactions (reserving my inappropriate emotional reaction for re-use in later beratements.)
This Worked So Well. After a while, X could skip step 3 if they felt like it, because it was implied by then-I would do step 3 all by myself!
OMG you just described every argument I have ever had with my mother, in a nutshell.
I dated a guy who did a variant of that pattern. Instead of attacking me for my reaction then forgiving me, he would attack himself for messing up, work himself up into a shame spiral, and then I would end up consoling him because he had intentionally done something he knew would upset me. I finally realized that no matter what I did, staying in that relationship meant that I would spend most of my time exhausted and unhappy.
The steps. Fucking hell.
I sent this to a friend who also left a similarly abusive husband to mine. And we spent a while over messenger having our heads explode. Thank you for reposting this comment, I didn’t see it last time.
Like my friend said, it’s hard to suddenly realise how much of their work we did for them. Abusers, they are lazy.
“Abusers, they are lazy.”
I mean, if you give someone a fish, they eat for a day.
If you teach them how to feel ashamed of not knowing how to fish, and to self-flagellate with the fishing pole over their shameful ignorance, and occasionally you stop by and give them a fish and a condescending lecture about the importance of fishing, you’re a fucking piece of shit.
…that analogy got away from me…
I think it’s spot on myself! 🙂
But it made ME laugh my ass off. Thanks for that!
This analogy is everything.
I’m the one in my marriage that is bad with estimating how long it will take me to get out of the house and also doesn’t care as much as getting places on time. And even so, I think this behavior of “you must justify yourself to me as though this is a math proof” is not okay!
There are clearly personal preferences in play and treating it as though his preference is the only one that matters is not cool. He’s holding the LW hostage with his presence and mood.
I try to care about getting places on time a bit more than I otherwise would, and my husband and I have even reached an understanding that it’s perfectly acceptable for him to straight lie to me about when he thinks we need to leave the house by having him build in a buffer for my lateness. There are plenty of acceptable solutions and compromises…if both parties want it.
Am I bad person if I jump straight to “DUMP HIMMMM, HE SOUNDS EXHAUSTING”
I’m…. skeptical about the ability of counseling to change this kind of behavior, which just seems mean-spirited more than anything else. I don’t see anything here that indicates he has any genuine desire to come to an understanding or meet in the middle.
I’m a punctual person myself, and I get frustrated sometimes with my boyfriend who tends to run late for things. But I know he has some real issues with time management (due to ADHD, etc.), and I try to be understanding because it’s just how his brain is, he’s working with a doctor, and he’s *really* trying his best. There is absolutely no way I could tolerate it if he also picked a fight every time or used the situation to try to get a rise out of me.
“Am I bad person if I jump straight to “DUMP HIMMMM, HE SOUNDS EXHAUSTING”” Nope, I went straight there too. I’m also skeptical that he can change, mostly because it just appears that he doesn’t want to change.
Me too, and it’s not even really because of the outward behavior, it’s because of the motivation behind it. Being married to a habitually late person isn’t (necessarily) a reason to end your marriage, but being married to someone who purposely does things that they know upset you and make you anxious…kinda is. It points to an underlying sadistic streak that could come out in all sorts of other ways, either now or later.
NOPESAUCE. The red flag raised in me by OP’s letter – this man likes it when you are fearful and anxious and dependent on him and does not care what you want or need or what makes you happy. This is scary behavior to me and I am confident that the Captain’s assessment is correct in that he will make his need for control and acting out this little playlet manifest elsewhere in the relationship when/if this outlet is removed. There is also a chance that he will escalate his behavior if this very comfy (for him) paradigm is shifted and he feels destabilized or threatened by OP’s move toward autonomy. I hope OP stays safe and plans a safety focused exit strategy if indeed they also plan to try working on this. I would take this as a very clear sign that my needs and comfort are fundamentally not important to this person and GTFO.
yeah, the big thing to me is that he argues back, vehemently.
It would be bad enough if he was like the crappy boyfriend w/ the ex-girlfriend who kept saying, “I understand, I’ll do better,” and he never, ever does.
And it would be so human if he said, “I’ll do better,” and he does sometimes, and then sometimes his natural rhythms assert themselves, and he doesn’t start getting ready soon enough.
but he ARGUES!
I confess, my first thought was, “move out.”
Like, just go stay with someone else, immediately the next argument happens. Don’t call, don’t answer texts. Just go.
See how it is.
Though, “deliberately plan several enjoyable activities out of the house, and leave when YOU like,” is another good way to see how it would be without him.
I feel so bad for LW and as always, Captain has the most spot on advice.
This actually reminds me of the plot of the Roald Dahl short story “The Way Up to Heaven” which is also about a mean husband that enjoys making his stressed out wife perpetually late for things. The ending is quite macabre but VERY satisfying and is worth a read!
I was waiting for that story to be mentioned z it’s where my mind immediately went! 🙂
Came here to see if it was mentioned, was not disappointed.
Yup, me too. It’s actually my favorite Dahl short story.
Of course, in that story there was eventual proof that the husband was doing it on purpose for no other reason than to torture the wife. Thankfully that is less likely to be the case here (especially given the LW’s follow-up)… so perhaps less drastic measures are called for. 😛
(But LW might still find the story a satisfying/cathartic read…)
That’s what I thought of too!
“Once a week, on Tuesdays, she wrote a letter to her husband: a nice, chatty letter, full of news and gossip, which always ended with the words ‘Now be sure to take your meals regularly, dear, although this is something I’m afraid you may not be doing when I’m not with you.’” (shiver)
And she was right!
Ahahaha you beat me to it! I didn’t check the thread before I commented this below. XD
Wow. That was really good – in that the entire thing was anxiety-inducing and even knowing there’s a macabre ending I didn’t quite forsee that!
I LOVE that story!
So, looked up the story.
Did Dahl have a Thing for ‘women are nice and sweet and do NOT cross that line’?
This is not the only ‘sweet wife + dead jerk hubby’ locked-room murder that he wrote.
The best of his in this genre, hands down, has got to be the one where the jerkass husband dies and leaves a long, tedious missive to his wife about how to act as a widow so as not to make him look bad – no smoking, no dating, no television, no alcohol, blah de blah de blah.
And then she gets a phone call saying that he’d had his brain preserved and kept alive in some experiment, and luckily! they’d preserved one of his eyeballs too so he could see the world. And she went down there, got possession of his still-alive brain in a jar, brought it home, plopped it on top of her new TV, lit a cigarette, and blew that smoke right in his eye.
I have a chronic, painful illness that can slow me down physically, anxiety about running late, and a tiny bladder, and I *must* build in extra time for me to run to the bathroom when I get ANYWHERE.
Considerate people are willing to accommodate this. Inconsiderate people don’t get to enjoy my company at events (or at all), if they screw me over on this.
I agree wholeheartedly with the Captain, this is a bullshit control issue, and the LW’s husband is getting something out of all the attention and anxiety and stress and discussion that he’s creating.
He asked LW to remind him every time that this stresses her out? Nope. This man is saying, “I don’t just refuse to respect your wants and needs, I choose to not remember that you have wants and needs.”
I’d bet money that travel time is not the only way he either ignores LW’s wants and needs or argues about their validity. Food preferences? Sex? Housekeeping?
LW, do not have children with this man. Ask me how I know.
“LW, do not have children with this man. Ask me how I know.” Can I ask how you know?
Also, I can just picture husband if she were in labor:
LW: “Husband, we need to leave for the hospital now. I’m having contractions.”
H: “Can we wait another hour please?”
LW: “No, my water just broke.”
H: “Still, we should have a few more minutes before we really need to leave.”
LW: “Baby is crowning, can we go now, please?”
Ugh, I hope no one ever goes through that.
Ha, nooooo! “Before we leave for the hospital, I need you to explain to me why it’s stressing you out that we’re not leaving yet.”
When my water broke, I told my then-husband that my water broke, and he argued that surely it was copious discharge!
He also once made me late for opening night of a play I was in.
Holy mother of …. yikes.
I am utterly horrified on your behalf.
OMG, I’m so sorry and outraged on your behalf!
I’m so sorry that happened to you, but I have to admit that the phrase “copious discharge” is somewhat hilarious to me.
Also very glad to see that he’s a wasband.
The baby in question will be 34 in July then-husband and I were really young)! I’ve been divorced from the “wasband” for 22 years. With his subsequent ex-wife, he had two children; I do not know if he argued with her about water or labor. (I never had any more kids, and remarried when I was in my 40s, we’re married ten years now.) I don’t know if he made her late for performances she was part of, either.
Oh, lord, y’all, he made the word copious even worse than it is. “But love, the book says if it’s CO-pee-usss. . .”
Yes, he has a subsequent ex-wife. Our child recently said to me, “When Dad and [ex-stepmom] broke up, I learned that his relationship failures are his fault.” Our child is knows they take after Dad, and wants to stay with their girlfriend, so is mindful of patterns and what not to do.
Love the term “wasband”! I usually refer to “my future ex-husband” when talking about my ex in the past when we were still married, but I might just steal this.
Oh my god, this was actually a post on Reddit relationships a week or so ago! The husband mansplained labour to his wife, told her she was being overdramatic and it takes a long time to have a baby, told her he knows all about labor and they didn’t need to go. She was begging and crying for them to leave. He finally relented after HOURS and she ended up giving birth in the car. Now he’s running around telling the story like a big joke—saying that the OP was too dumb to realise she was in labor and that she didn’t have the bags ready.
It was an absolute horror show and the poor OP just kept trying to defend his behaviour when it became increasingly apparent to the commenters that this is just one more way her husband loves to treat her like dirt and humiliate her in public for kicks.
Wow, if she didn’t divorce him after that, I fear she’s doomed. Mansplaining labour is grounds for divorce, much less refusing to take her to hospital.
Mansplaining labor is grounds for being found hacked to pieces in the desert with coyote tooth marks on your rotting skull.
@goddessoftransitory: what I wanted to say was “set on fire and thrown off a cliff” but I thought I’d pretend to be civilized.
Oh, my goodness. My dad loved to tell the funny story of how I was almost born in a Jack-in-the-Box drive through. Years later, my mom filled in the details: he insisted first labors ALWAYS go long, and he didn’t want to starve in the waiting room, so they HAD to get some food! In a blizzard, where they got stuck in the snow. Ha ha.
can you share that link? I tried searching “labour”, “labor” & “birth” out of morbid curiosity, but couldn’t find it.
I couldn’t find it either but I must view this trainwreck!
@Slow Gin Lizz: “Can I ask how you know?” Sure! I’ll leave out the TMI.
“Something’s off about this fish.” “It’s fine.” “I can’t eat it. It’s slimy.” “You just need to get over that.”
“God, I’m sooo hungry for canned chili! I think this is an actual craving!” (I open can and start eating it cold, then have to pee because pregnant.) “Hey, where’s that can of chili?” “I hid it for your own good.” “WHAT? WHY?” “You were being irrational.” “I was craving chili. Pregnant people get cravings.” “You just need to get over it.”
“Could you see a dentist please? I’d like to be able to kiss you on the mouth again.” “You just need to get over that.”
“When you’re done with that (newspaper article / blog post / chapter), can we talk?” “Go ahead. I can multitask.” “But I’d like your full attention, please. It’s basic courtesy, and it’s important to me.” “You just need to get over that.”
“What happened with picking up Kid after school? He waited for 45 minutes.” “Oh, he was safe. No big deal.” “It’s a huge deal for him. He was scared and felt abandoned.” “He just needs to get over that.”
“Hey, Kid just cleaned up the kitchen without my even asking! How sweet is that?” “Huh. That’s great.” (Puts messy bowl and spoon in sink and walks away.) “Could you load those dishes in the dishwasher?” “I’ll do it before bed. What’s the rush?” “Kid made an effort. If we immediately mess it up, don’t you think he’ll feel like we don’t appreciate him?” “If he does, then he needs to get over it.”
In case you’re wondering why on earth I stayed with him so long, I didn’t want Kid to be neglected every other weekend and on vacations.
LW, don’t have children with this man. Once you have kids, your options are fewer and harder.
Yikes! Was your ex trying to poison you by making you eat bad fish? If he had just taken out a life insurance policy on you, I would say yes. No, I am not kidding. There was Dear Prudence letter where the MIL was poisoning the OP every time the OP went to MIL’s house for a meal.
OMG, I remember that one. Didn’t it turn out that her husband knew about it? (I think at one meal she secretly switched out the only think that could have been tampered with for the one at her husband’s plate, and he got sick – and became livid when she said she had switched the dishes.) Something like that – I remember it went from “stay away from MIL” to “run for your life!” in the course of a few paragraphs.
Oh dear God, I’m so sorry. I hope he’s actually out of your life for good and that you really can literally get over him. And I hope the kid is okay too.
I guess you just needed to get over… HIM.
Sadly my mom did. She almost delivered me before we got to the hospital because my dad (who was working downstairs) had “one more thing” to do before they could leave the house
I have a child with a man who shows less severe versions of the above (and I give the LW the trust that she knows her husband better than we do). When my water broke I got up and did some stuff around the house without him, like submitting placeholder grades for my students so they could graduate in case I didn’t get around to submitting final grades later that week. It was 2 am; I wanted him to sleep until it was time to drive. At 3-something I woke him up and told him it was time to go. He tried to interview me about my symptoms (medical background kicking in). I told him firmly to stop and get ready to drive. He shut up and we went. Baby less than 5 hours later.
That’s why we’re still together: he knows when to stop 🙂
Oh wow. This reminds me of a Reddit Relationship post I read not long ago. This poor woman had just given birth to (I think) twins, and her husband pulled something like this on her. She had told him REPEATEDLY that she needed to go to the hospital, NOW. But he kept going ‘no, I don’t think you’re in labor’ ‘No, you’re just imagining things’ except, turns out, SHE WASN’T IMAGINING GIVING BIRTH and she gave birth in the parking lot (I think??) and her husband spun it into this ‘hilarious’ story that he told her to go to the hospital but lol, his silly wife just wouldn’t listen.
Men devaluing women’s thoughts isn’t anything new. Just THINKING about a potential BF or husband telling me that what I’m thinking is Wrong and his thoughts are Right makes me want to punch something.
Yeesh, that’s not just devaluing women’s thoughts, that’s actually withholding necessary medical treatment from someone. How dire that could have been if she’d had a complication? Women still die in childbirth, and I wonder how many of them have partners like this?
I can’t imagine being in the situation where my partner dicks around while I’m undergoing a painful medical emergency. It sounds absolutely traumatic.
I hope there is a special level of Hell for these dudes, where the roles are reversed.
Right? What kind of dick thinks labour is a prank? That’s some off the charts misogyny, malice, ignorance, immaturity, and every other negative attribute.
Notice that the dingleberries who do this kind of thing are never, like, doctors or something where at least they’re arguing from a position of expertise. They’re always just some dude who’s decided that his opinion is as important – nay, more! – than that of the person whose uterus it actually is.
THAT is called the Dunning-Krueger Effect! It’s a fascinating psychological observation that people who are really, REALLY knowledgeable about something will undervalue their own expertise, because they know how complicated their field can be. While the less knowledgeable (or downright stupid!) people will loudly proclaim their total mastery and how awesome they are.
lol a man with insomnia that wants to sleep a lot should realize that doesn’t happen if you have infants.
LW, you are absolutely not the problem here.
If anyone — friend, partner, whatever — told me we were leaving at a time that I thought was super-early, I would say something. Once. Upon hearing something like “I need a buffer of time, otherwise it stresses me out,” my answer would be “great! more time to chat with you.” At worst I bring a book. And then I would never bring it up again. If leaving early didn’t work for me for some actual reason, I would be like “hey, I have a dentist appointment that’s not over until X time, so I’ll make my own way there, thanks.”
Easy. Done. Simple.
LW, it ain’t about timing. Please listen to the Captain. Jedi hugs if you want them, and very, very best of luck with everything.
LW your husband’s behavior has me muttering bad words at my monitor. He’s being COMPLETELY unreasonable and a jerk to boot. This is about more than being early vs being ‘just in time’. It’s about him disregarding your feelings and actively creating situations that make you feel anxious. That’s a shitty thing for a partner to do. Especially when it also seems that he’s placed you in the role of planner/timekeeper as well as justifier of the departure time. I picture him sitting there, waiting for you to plan his social calendar, plan his schedule and then prove to him why you have planned it that way. What BS! I think the Captain is right that you probably need a third party to tell him this in counseling – because he’s so happy in his role of judge and jury and so convinced that he’s right that he’s never going to see it from your POV, which is the reasonable POV, make no mistake.
“I could passively-aggressively tack on 5-10 more minutes to his question of “how long/when do we need” to get there, but that’s lying – and he’s not a dummy. He will figure this out, and stop trusting my word.
I don’t think this is actually passive-aggressive at all. If you plan the thing and the plan contains 10 min beyond driving and parking time to get to a good seat in the movie theater or pee or whatever, that’s just part of the plan. And if he ‘figures it out’ and says something about it, can you just tell him that all plans you make contain this extra time and then refuse to argue about it? I mean, is there a way to make his desire to argue about this ridiculous? Like OF COURSE you build 10 min in so you are not sitting in the front row two feet from the screen…
Well LW mentions that they already once agreed to the rule of “Whoever planned the outing gets to plan the departure time” but that fell apart the first time they tried it. He’s basically going to be an unreasonable butt about any plan short of her just agreeing that he’s right and doing it his way every single time.
Thank you for putting it so well. The whole “plan everything, do all the work, and then justify it to my satisfaction” attitude this guy has is enfuriating.
LW, your husband doesn’t want a partner. He wants a Mommy he can over rule at his whim, because he is a toddler in a man’s body.
My ex had the “plan everything, do all the work, and then justify it to my satisfaction” attitude too. Except, when I started pushing back on some of his demands (like, that he be allowed to do things with and to the children that were unsafe), he tacked on a “and you are too controlling!” to the end of that. Now, he can effortlessly switch back and forth between “do everything!” and “let me do something, you controlling wench!” sometimes even regarding the same activity. It’s…..not fun.
I’ll admit, I tend to be on your husband’s side of things since…well. I’m a homebody and a pretty extreme introvert, so having to leave super early is something that annoys me – and can be the difference between me ending up crashing on the floor (yes, literally a few times) or managing to make it to bed.
That said, it’s something I’m aware of and I work with the people I have plans with the figure out a time/schedule that will work for both of us, not just demand that we do it my way.
With what your husband is doing? Personally, I’d say “I’m leaving at X time, if you’re not ready then I’m leaving without you.” …and do just that. If he tries to argue point out that since you were the one who planned this outing, it’s your call when you leave – and that he agreed with that. And see what happens.
It doesn’t sound like this is an extreme difference of opinion on “how early is too early”, though. This isn’t “she wants to be there an hour before the trailers, he considers it good if they’re there before the credits”. He’s fighting her on ten minutes one way or another.
Wow, this sounds so stressful to live with. I totally agree with the captain. Find other people to do fun stuff with and leave when it works for you. You shouldn’t have to explain again and again and again that you need a few extra minutes. I am often the one that wants to leave later – especially when going to the airport. I hate it there and it stresses me out. My partner likes to get there early because they get really stressed otehrwise. Our compromise is that I go to the airport early, and they play a game with me or help me with something else to distract me if we have to be there for a period that feels stressful to me (or I listen to a podcast etc). Arguing endlessly about it is *not* a reasonable solution!
My husband has always been great about leaving when I think we ought to leave, but then he would routinely throw a wrench in the schedule by wanting to stop for takeout coffee on the way, so I’d end up gritting my teeth while he stood in line at Starbucks, hoping we made it on time. Or, we’d get to the airport two hours early and he’d head to the bar for a drink while I sat at the gate, and then they’d start the boarding process and he wouldn’t be there and I’d have his boarding pass in my hand and would be full of anxiety wondering if he’d make it on time.
So here’s how we solved this little dilemma: we take separate cars. I leave his ticket with his keys, neither of us are stressed or anxious or mad, he gets his coffee, I get where I need to be on time, and we’re glad to see each other when we get there. At the airport, after security I kiss him on the cheek and ask if he has his boarding pass and wish him fun at the bar, and if God forbid he ever misses the plane then I guess he’d be a grown-up and figure out how to get himself on the next flight.
But LW, here’s the deal: my husband respects my need to get places a little early. He respects my desire to wait at the airline gate and not sprint down the gangway at the last second. He is a willing participant in the separate-car solution, and gives me no grief over it. And this is what you need from your own husband: Respect. He doesn’t have to agree with you on the need for Pee Time, he just has to respect your desire for it and work with you to find a compromise. Good luck to you, and if this can’t be worked out according to the good Captain’s suggestions then I second the motion for a marriage counselor.
Wow, I would hate this! It’s very telling to me that you have two different opinions about the schedule, but it’s always your opinion that’s on the defensive. You are the one that has to painstakingly explain to him, again and again, why your timetable is valid, yet mysteriously he never has to do this about his timetable. Why is that?
I don’t know, really, but there’s something iffy about that. And I also absolutely think this is some kind of a power play.
Not gonna lie, reading this pissed me off. I don’t have good advice – besides Captains is great anyway – but what I do know is that you can’t change is behavior by using your words (you tried) and there is no way you can make him be respectful and kind to you if he does not want to be respectful and kind (and I think he is being an jerk on purpose. Something about this conflict and how it affects you gets him off).
The only thing you can do is change your own behaviors, and by that I mean: don’t explain it to him any longer. Like, never. Never ever explain this again. He knows why you want to leave early – he doesn’t care. Just leave. If it happens again and you start to explain, try to catch yourself and stop, it’s not fair on you and it’s part of the weird power game. It sucks the energy from you and gives it to him. Just leave.
He doesn’t like the idea of traveling separately? Wow, what great reason to do it.
This reminds me of an ex that used to argue with me about whether I should be cold or hot – again – whether I SHOULD be cold or hot. Because he wasn’t cold or hot (he was fine) so I should be fine too. Came to a head on a road trip from Southern California to Big Sur. Throughout the drive, I seemed to go back and forth between overly warm to chilly. I actually started to think I was running a fever and maybe we should head back?
No. Ex was turning the A/C and the heat up and down. When he finally admitted to it, several hours into the trip, he stated that he was fine the whole time, which was proof I was too sensitive to temperature, and – AND – he also enjoyed shaming me for not realizing he was changing the car’s temperature.
I don’t know how to describe that kind of behavior (other than, you know, dickish) but man. Who DOES that to the person they presumably LOVE?
LW, don’t let your husband control and manipulate you this way. He can pick it apart all ways to Sunday but it doesn’t matter. It’s just crappy of him to put you through arguments over this, time and time again. Good luck LW.
Wow. He was nearly literally gaslighting you. That’s exactly what the husband did in the movie, but with the a/c instead of the overhead lights. I’m so glad to hear he is your Ex. *Hugs*
Dear policychick, that is downright horrible. Do tell us you dumped this guy as soon as you got to Big Sur?
We broke up once we got back to Laguna Nigel. I spent WAY too long with that tool. He was a waste of time and space. 🙂
That thing with the heat and the a/c is one of the most malevolently bonkers things I’ve ever heard. I hope he never partners up again. No one deserves that.
Preferably IN Big Sur? During high tide?
W.O.W. I am …. just… gobsmacked. SO glad that person is an EX.
What a gaslighting creep! Congratulations on getting rid of him.
WHO DOES THAT!?!? I’m glad he’s an Ex, what an asshole.
What a fucking wanker. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that.
What a douche! My ex (mentioned elsewhere in this thread) was (maybe still is) very big on SHOULD, and also, if he was OK, why wasn’t I?
Glad he’s your ex.
Holy fucking shit, that car temperature gaslighting is awful. I am SO glad you’re no longer with that asshole. WHO DOES THAT WTF RAAARRGGH
Jesus Christ. He’d be walking home from Big Sur if that was me.
Hi LW! I totally agree that you should just tell him you’re leaving at x time and if he doesn’t make it he doesn’t make it! Let him get mad! Also, practice these lines! “I told you I’m leaving at 7:15, Fergus.” “I’m not discussing this again, Fergus.” “We’ve had this discussion many times before. I’m leaving at 7:15 for the movie and I’m not going to argue with you.” “Why are you arguing so hard about 10 extra minutes? I’m not discussing this again.” And then ignore and do not engage!
I agree with those calling this a control issue on the part of the husband. Having this discussion once or twice–maybe. Demanding a justification for 5 minutes everytime–um, no! I would like to share my mother’s magic phrase for just such situation…”I’m in the car.” No discussion, no waiting, no nothing–the car is leaving so get in or get left. This guy sounds exhausting–I doubt therapy would change anything, but maybe LW will find out why she puts up with this crap
At the end of this most recent discussion, he asked me to explain to him every time that this leaving time is important to me and it will stress me if I don’t leave at this particular time.
LW I really can’t read this as anything other than “I need you to feel really bad before I consider your position” which…is not great even if you assume he’s saying he ~just can’t remember~ why you’re upset, so you need to ~remind~ him. EVERY. TIME. Like, this really just seems like he need you be to miserable before he benevolently hurries up. How much care for you is he showing here? Because he’s asking for a lot of care, emotional labor, and investment from you.
Why should it always be on me to justify?
Good question, but I think you know the answer. Look, there’s this thing ~Logical(tm)~ people do when they want to win (I am one of them, I know and try to resist this). They pretend that human relationships are just an algorithm of Most Reasonable Thing to Happen, and they conveniently always have Most Reasonable Thing in mind and if you disagree you must Prove the Negative to My Satisfaction. Please do what Captain Awkward suggests and plan things without your husband. And I definitely suggest both single and couples therapy. But if you ever find yourself getting into another argument like this where he “whhhhyyyyyy”s at you like a child who is deliberately being irritating, then I suggest you be extremely honest about the consequences to your relationship and make him justify his actions when you tell him where they are leading. Always respond like he is making a choice regarding the state of your relationship (because he is), and you want to know why he’s making it. i.e.
H: I don’t understand why we have to get there 15 min early.
W: Because I need the time.
H: I don’t think that’s reasonable.
W: I do.
W: Because it makes me feel better. And, since we’re on a date, feeling good makes me feel good about us, and you rather than starting off thinking badly about us and you. Do you want me to feel badly about us and you?
H: I just don’t see why 15 mins exactly means you feel good.
W: Why do you need to understand to want to make me feel good?
(repeat as necessary)
H: Blah Blah Reason! Objectivity! Feelings don’t matter with Logic! Blah Blah
W: Maybe, but leaving 15 mins will makes be feel good and not leaving in 15 min will make me feel bad. Would you rather I feel bad?/If it comes to leaving in 5 mins and me feeling bad, and leaving in 15 min and me feeling good, why do you want the option that makes me feel bad?
You will probably get an answer that confirms that this is about control (and hopefully clarification that this might be about some mental perception of your relationship he’s not managing rather than like maliciousness). And you’ll have to decide how much time you’re willing to put into the relationship for him to let that go.
A turn of phrase on this one that I’ve found helpful is, “it’s a quality of life issue for me.” That’s just window dressing around “not feel bad” but sometimes a phrasing that gets past defenses.
Ugh, that’s the Logical Vulcan edition of how Anne Lamott describes certain religious people: “You can be pretty sure you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do.”
It amazes me how with these types, whatever THEY think/feel/want is the Logical And Perfect Thing,Duh, and never, ever anybody else’s point of view.
The really interesting thing about these people is that, if you out-Vulcan them, they melt down like a toddler who hasn’t had a nap in days. They do not nod thoughtfully and say “hm, that is a point I had not considered”. Being Logical ™ is how they armor up their feels and their ego, and they don’t have healthy coping mechanisms in the absence of that faux-logic.
Certain people like to think that they are quite logical, and therefore their positions are obviously logical ones, and yours, since you are *not* the logical one, are obviously based on feelings.
I was married to a “logical” person, and, somewhere in the marriage I discovered a pattern in our arguments.
1. If he won, the argument was settled forever.
2. If it looked like I was winning, the decision would be tabled for later.
Eventually, he’d get me to agree to something by bringing the discussion back when I was too tired to really care; I would agree to whatever he wanted, and then THAT decision was considered permanent and irreversible.
I’m pretty sure I’m never going to marry again. I think that marriage pretty much burned the desire to be married out of me.
My father will do that, particularly about political issues. He is a good arguer and debater, and takes winning the argument to mean that he is objectively correct. I am not particularly good at verbal argument unless it’s a topic I know dead to rights. This resulted in him winning all the political arguments for years, and holding that I was obviously sentimental and irrational because I continued to disagree with him.
This lasted until I actually won an argument with him about abortion and reproductive rights, because it’s an area I know well to my bones, and he knows talking points (seriously, he wasn’t even aware that there is only one abortion clinic in Mississippi, and he works for one of the hospitals that refused them admitting privileges).
Which immediately resulted in him declaring that abortion and reproductive rights were a stupid thing to base your political opinions on, and dismissing their importance. Which is when I realized that the whole thing is just an exercise in feeling superior for him. I avoid politics with him wherever possible now, because I am never going to be the one to persuade him – he’s too invested in his views being automatically superior to mine.
Roald Dahl wrote a short story about this exact situation called “The Way Up To Heaven”. I wouldn’t advise taking the route that Mrs Foster does in the story, but OP might like to read it for catharsis:
Ah, I see I’m not the first to point this out!
Hahaha me too, I did the same further down before I saw the first comment on this further up XD
To steal from Chris Rock, “I’m not saying she shoulda done it – i’m saying I understand.”
I had never read that story before and it is my new favorite thing.
LW, are you certain you are not fighting a proxy-war? One thing I’ve noticed with my wonderful husband is that when we are feeling background stressed about a BIG marriage thing it can be easy to be….difficult…about a SMALL thing.
Example: you are playing a lot of video games here lately. That makes me low-key antsy because of previous baggage. I now find it Very Disappointing that you forgot to switch over the laundry. We have a laundry fight. I feel a little better because we made up and you said nice and reassuring things to me. And if you ask me, I will say I’m only mad about chores. But in reality I’m mad about something deeper that I don’t fully know how to express, and may not have even consciously admitted to myself.
I think this is a phenomenon that happens in marriages that are both kinda new and also pretty good. It is hard to know yourself. You are complicated and unique! And it is harder still to know someone else. But when things are mostly really good with someone else, it can be hard to reach for that nagging, underlying unease and bring it up to your partner constructively.
One thing that helped us, is when we had the same fight more than twice, I asked him “what is it we are ACTUALLY fighting about? Me overdrafting the checking account is a $5 problem, that we are devoting $50 worth of energy to. Where is our $50 problem coming from?”
And I can guarantee he won’t know in the middle of the fight. But if you both just…sit with it for awhile….maybe it will come to you both.
I recommend you try this approach once or twice before the good Captain’s advice. Her approach will add more fuel to a fire that might be stamped out with a little more critical thinking from the two of you.
No. It’s obvious that the husband is being deliberately difficult and does not care about the suffering he puts his wife through! This is a control issue and I went through some of the same things when I was married to my abusive now-ex.
Maybe so! But I’m not sure that’s obvious here. It depends on if this relationship is actually really good except for this one thing, or if this is a pattern that extends to every area in their lives. Sometimes a hang up is just a hang up. I’m hesitant to encourage the LW to throw a nuke into what she catagorizes as a good relationship without more evidence than “obnoxiously stubborn in one specific area”
Oh, I think it is obvious – he knows he causes his wife tremendous anxiety and yet he still pulls this crap. Anyway, I didn’t say to nuke the relationship – I think she should tell him that they’re going to therapy for this (if he won’t go, then she needs to go by herself).
Derp – I meant marriage counseling, not therapy.
El, I know you didn’t! I was talking about the Captain’s advice. She recommended escalating the amount of time and energy and emotional bandwidth this fight is taking up in her life. I disagree with that strategy as a first-step solution to this problem. In addition, I think it’s totally wrong to compare this ONE weird stubborn area in a relationship and throw up our hands and say “WELP. ABUSE!” The comment section today seems rill comfortable diagnosing this marriage as unworkable and this dude as dumpable. And I think that is assuming facts not in evidence. Unless the LW jumps in to give more details on jerky husband behavior, I’m inclined to believe her when she says this is a good relationship with a guy she cares about.
He LITERALLY forces her to spend an HOUR arguing over leaving 5 MINUTES early. And HE refuses any compromise.
He’s the problem, Period.
Oh yeah! Totally. I’m not suggesting he is secretly the good guy or anything. I’m suggesting that if he is USUALLY a quality husband and this ONE quirk is causing the same fight over and over, it is worth both of them quietly doing some thinking about if they are using this small-potatoes problem to avoid talking about a bigger, harder, scarier problem. And I am suggesting that because I, personally, have experienced the same thing.
I must say, this is one of the few “everything is fine except this one thing” letters we’ve had lately that *wasn’t* teeming with several other red flags.
I agree that he’s the problem, but I think that Dopameanie is saying that if he’s only the problem this one time it’s worth asking why.
Like, if he cheerfully and without nagging does his share of the housework and keeps track of things-at-home that she’s interested in and occasionally runs unnecessary but kind and helpful surprise errands and is actually supportive about work and is fine with going out to dinner when there’s no reservation and generally listens and doesn’t give this grief when she goes somewhere alone and is *only* doing this massive BUT MY SCHEDULEZ freak-out when they are going out (1) together to (2) a scheduled event: he’s still totally the problem!
But in that situation–because LW did say they’re great except for that–it’s a problem that seems like it might be worth poking to see if it’s a symptom of one particular issue (like, blue-skying, maybe he freaks out about leaving the house for longer than necessary) that will maybe go away if he addresses that one issue. Which is still on him to address, no lie.
This is excellent advice for a very different situation.
Husband makes LW justify her feelings over and over again, even though he knows what they are. Husband has set himself up as the arbiter is What Is Right. This isn’t a simple “I like to leave early, he likes to leave later and we fight”.
I kinda got the vibe from the letter that this is a PATTERN that they have fallen into and don’t know how to escape. She gets antsy about the time > he gets stubborn > she tries to logic him back into reasonableness > he gets mad and/or controlling > the fight spirals out of control > everyone’s day is ruined > rinse > repeat.
Dude is being a jerk, no question. But maybe if they both try to drill down to WHY this pattern keeps happening then they can change it? If this was an issue on a third date or something it would be easy to tell the LW to bail. But this is the guy she promised to stand with forever, so I think there is more of an obligation to find a way to fix it. Note: I’m not saying SHE fix it. I’m saying THEY fix it. If my suggestion doesn’t work or he doesn’t want to fix it at all, then move on to the more drastic advice the Captain gave.
Except “she tries to logic himself back into reasonableness” is really “his demanding she provide logically sound reasons to his satisfaction”. Again, I get that trying to break unhealthy patterns is a Good Thing. But mediation and reasonableness do not work with control freaks and jerks.
True! If he is just a jerk or a bad husband then what you say is totally logical. But, again, he might just be kinda weird about this one thing? And this thing makes him act in otherwise uncharacteristic ways? Look, my advice only works if the LW is correct in her own opinion of her marriage, and I get that lots of ladies are self-deceiving about how jerky their partners are. But if we trust what she says in the letter, and he is a good non-jerk man, then the Captain’s advice is gonna be DRAMA and FIGHTS and just misery to live through. My advice is to try to work together as a team first to find the root cause of this pattern. And if that doesn’t work, then move on to the Captain’s advice.
Hey. I think you’re right that if it’s just this one thing then it’s worth getting to the bottom of it, and esp. since the Letter Writer came back and said “Yep, it’s just this one thing,” I believe them!
But I’m not advocating DRAMA and FIGHTS and I don’t appreciate your characterization. The husband is already picking fights. The Letter Writer has already tried reasonably talking it out and it’s not working. I’m advocating that the Letter Writer take a small break from organizing outings with the husband and prioritize other social connections for like, a month, to recalibrate things and see if these dumb fights are just about this one thing or do they spread over to other things.
Here are options the husband, an adult man, has that are not picking exhausting fights with the Letter Writer every time there is a date night:
“7:15 is a bit too early for me, can we leave at 7:30 instead?” – Per the letter, he won’t suggest an alternative leaving time that works for him, he’ll just tell the Letter Writer that the leaving time they propose is wrong and try to make them justify it for up to an hour. (They are already having fights and drama).
“I know you like to get there early, but I really need a bit more time to get ready. Perhaps we can just meet there?” – But he doesn’t like going separately.
“I know I was excited to go to this movie/concert/whatever, but now that it’s come up I’m not feeling it and I’d rather stay in and catch up on sleep. Mind going without me?” (This is about 75% what I suspect is going on – he is feeling exhausted or anxious about going and instead of articulating that he’s putting friction around the whole idea of going instead of using his words).
“I hate these fights we have every time we try to go somewhere, I’m sorry, can we try to come up with a better solution?” But when they agree that when the Letter Writer makes the plans they get to decide the travel time, the husband renegs.
He is not doing any of these reasonable things, and it is actually okay to get angry when someone is acting like a jerk and when all your attempts to resolve it are not working. Getting angry is a reasonable response and not “DRAMA.” “Look, if you are going to behave like this every time we go out, it makes me not want to go places with you. Is that your intent?” is pretty reasonable.
Well, wait now. If he’s a good guy, why would there be DRAMA and FIGHTS?
Out of nesting! This is to reply to the Captain:
Because you are advocating seeing him as a BURDEN instead of a PARTNER. And that is a corrosive thing to do in a marriage. When she changes that lens she is viewing him through, he is gonna notice. It is gonna be A Thing. This tiny, small-potatoes issue will become a hill to die on. And if my suggestion doesn’t work, then sure! Go for it. But it sounds like the LW has done a LOOOOT of work in the “how can I appease your jerk-behavior and make this work for us” and not a lot in the “honey, we have to find out what’s behind this argument because it is hurting me. Why does this argument keep happening? What is the issue BEHIND the leaving-time that neither one of us is addressing?”
My suggestion has a best-case scenario of waking this dude up to his jerk-behavior and a worst case of being right back where you started.
Your suggestion has a best case scenario of waking this dude up to his jerk behavior and a worst case of tears and couch sleeping and reassessing if you even LIKE this guy and passive aggressive retaliation on his part, because going out with others and not him with him because of his behavior *without telling him why* is passive aggressive.
When you talked about alternatives you preemptively discussed how he would act in bad faith if she tried them. And maybe he will! But to hear someone say I love this guy, he is great, we are great, there is just this one thing….and jump to “he is controlling, no sense in talking to him about it in a new way!” ….it just sits wrong with me. You may need to escalate this to the Captain’s advice, sure. But you can’t UNescalate a fight once you start it. If the LW can’t get anywhere with my advice then this is certainly a fight worth having. But not having the fight in the first place AND still getting the behavior change you want is, in my opinion, worth a shot!
Ok, I understand your perspective a little bit more. It never hurts to ask “hey what’s this really about” or “in a perfect world how do you want this to work?” Here’s where it still falls apart: “But not having the fight in the first place AND still getting the behavior change you want is, in my opinion, worth a shot!” – The LW already tried all the compromises. THEY ARE ALREADY FIGHTING. Like, it’s okay to get pissed off and show it a little bit when someone is behaving in a rude and controlling way. It’s also okay to temporarily disengage from trying to fix something for the sake of your own sanity – That’s what I meant when I recommended “hey, give your plan-making gifts to people in your life who respect you” for a little while. Not a punishment for the husband, but a way to literally stop the constant fighting by removing the situation that’s causing it. And then watch – Do things get better? Or does the fight escalate or shift to something else? Also, marriage counseling isn’t a punishment, it’s actually a way to get done what you want to get done – “We’re having a dumb fight about something, what’s that really about?” and open up the discussion with an actual facilitator.
Anyway, thanks for clarifying.
So I was right up with you for the first couple of paragraphs. My partner likes to leave things to the last minute too – he can’t bear to be early because to him that’s wasted time, and he gets cranky and restless if we are in our seats early for stuff. And I’m a literally-anything-is-better-than-a-stressful-rush person who cannot bear to risk being late or having to run.
The part where you lost me was the “I’ve suggested leaving separately and he doesn’t like it” bit. After five years together my partner and I have worked out that neither of our natures are going to change and we’ve found workarounds. For mundane stuff like going to a café at the weekend, we leave separately and meet each other there. And for fancy stuff where that’d be tricky, like shows and things, I get to dictate the leaving time as long as I don’t mind if he brings a book to read while we’re waiting in our seats for the show to start so he doesn’t get anxious about wasting time. (Now we have set up this arrangement I don’t mind because I can make sure I bring something to do too).
These workarounds are possible. It took a bit of fiddling to get there but it was doable and it should be doable for your husband. If he’s not co-operating, as the Captain says, it’s on him – and it means he doesn’t /want/ to fix this. He is choosing to keep it how it is, i.e. with you feeling as stressed as you do.
I used to be a bit like this: he can’t bear to be early because to him that’s wasted time, and he gets cranky and restless if we are in our seats early for stuff.
And I have started to consider that time to be a precious little jewel of “no rushing, nobody needs me.” I might even consider it a “romantic but no smooching” time. Something to make it be a reward for being early.
I have firmly come to agree that you cannot change someone else’s behaviour, only your own. And therein you may change a situation for the better. We had one car challenges with switching the car over for shifts and getting picked up from shifts. my husband would not punish me or get angry or physical, still it was hard to decide I’d had enough. So one day I drove to his office and when he didn’t appear at the agreed time I left and went to my job. He managed to get a drive and came to get the keys all flustered and explanations. At the end of my shift if he didn’t appear I got on the next bus and proceeded home. Let him wonder where I was and when I was coming out. All before mobile phones of course. But it was amazing to make a decision, exert some control and he improved stat. So I suggest you do all the examples, go ahead of him to the show, go out with other company, male no plans for a weekend and tell him you’re tired and discouraged by all the arguments and are taking a break. Show him the consequences, calmly and firmly and cheerfully if you can. Good Luck!
This whole thread reminds me of this article: https://mustbethistalltoride.com/2016/01/14/she-divorced-me-because-i-left-dishes-by-the-sink/
It’s not the substance of the request, it’s the fact that you’ve told him how you feel and he’s not just disregarding that but actively sabotaging it.
This was a very interesting article! And definitely appropriate to the LW’s problem imo. Thanks for sharing!
I guess what I took from it is that there really is very little one can do in this situation except leaving. The guy is not going to budge – you can never convince him to budge, it’s time wasted. It’s a sad realization but it would explain a lot of experiences I had with men.
I hope the LW also reads it.
I was raised to build “cushion time” into every trip, in case a there’s an overturned tractor trailer on the highway. My grandfather’s advice, passed to me by my mom. My dad was super type A about time, he’d angrily lecture us in the car if we dilly-dallied and made him late, he was very clear that when he says we’re leaving at 6, that doesn’t mean wait until 6 to start putting your shoes on, that means that we have our coats and shoes on and are actively walking out the door at exactly 6. As a result, I’m often embarrassingly, annoyingly early to everything, and my boyfriend said early on in our relationship he wants someone chill who can go with the flow, so I try not to be ridiculous with the cushion time, but god bless him, he doesn’t argue when I propose giving ourselves an hour for what’s usually only a half-hour drive, and getting to the theater 45 minutes before the movie.
For time shavers, I think part of it is how they value their time, versus how much they value other people’s time. They want to keep as much of their time for themselves as they can, and can’t stand spending more time than they need on something that might benefit others more than it benefits them. They don’t wanna get there early and wait, they want to get there with minutes to spare, or if they’re meeting someone, they want that person waiting for them, not the other way around. Now, I don’t mind sacrificing an extra half hour of “my time” if it means not stressing about being late or making someone wait for me, but I can’t stand it when someone doesn’t respect my time.
“something that might benefit others more than it benefits them”
SOME of those time shavers think that no one is benefitting from that “wasted time.”
But our OP has made it clear already that SHE is benefitting, and that should have been enough.
I was going to ask LW if you are married to my father, because he did jerky controlling things like this all of his life to prove that he was better and smarter. Not only was he doing it to prove to himself that he was smarter, he was doing it to prove it to you as well. Demoralization was his prime method of control.
So, as someone who grew up with control issues, please read my advice with that filter: I would be asking husband to justify himself: Why is arguing over this important? What joy is he getting out of demeaning, disrespecting, and hurting someone he loves? Why is he seeking this level of control? Why is it important to turn something into a Wicked Problem that should be No Problem?
Then I would be implementing all of CA’s advice and seeking a therapist as well. (And maybe a divorce attorney too.)
So… turns out, Dad used to be very much the same in terms of having trouble leaving on time. However, Mom used to tell him that an event they wanted to or had to go to started 30 minutes prior to when it actually did, and they ended up getting to said event with an at least 10-minute buffer.
I asked Mom about this once because I was concerned about the minor dishonesty there, and she said “oh he knows I do it. Talk to him about it. It was his idea.” So that’s exactly what I did.
Dad knew he had a problem getting to places on time. He was very often late to things. Back when my parents were dating, this frustrated Mom (who wanted to be as early as possible) quite a bit to the point where it was probably their biggest argument. So Dad was the one who told her to tell him an event was starting 30 minutes earlier than it was and, somehow, it worked! I asked Dad how, and he told me that it took him a bit of time to adjust to believing that, but when he did adjust to it, it really helped him get to events not just on time, but early. He would still sometimes move a bit slowly, meaning they would leave “late”, but still get to said event early because they had built in that buffer from the beginning.
Later, when my brother and I were kids, my parents made things even easier by adjusting all their clocks to be about 5-10 minutes fast, which only helped him even more.
On the other hand, Mom’s desire to get to things as early as possible can occasionally be excessive, but this is mostly when we travel because she has travel anxiety. Turns out I also have that same travel anxiety (in fact, neither Mom nor I can sleep the night before Travel Day, so we’re both often, on top of being overly anxious, quite tired on Travel Day), and Dad and my brother (neither of whom have said travel anxiety) have never had a problem accommodating it for both of us. In return for their willingness to be understanding, Mom and I make an effort to control our anxiety and be more reasonable about when we head out for said travel. So we all come to a compromise that allows Mom and I to keep our anxiety in check without leaving way earlier than we actually need to.
Now, of course, all of this has led to Dad being better about getting himself ready to get to an event on time or, more often, early. Mom no longer has to tell him that an event starts 30 minutes earlier than it does because he just automatically operates on the assumption that it does, even when we all know the actual time it starts.
Point is, my parents found a solution that works because Dad is not a controlling asshole.
Your husband, LW, is a controlling asshole. He knows what he’s doing and that he has this problem, but for him it’s all about control. He wants things to be only on his terms, and that’s it. He won’t go early because he doesn’t want to, and he doesn’t care that you do. If he did care, he would be open to solutions (like my dad was/is). You are not the one in the wrong, here; he is. Captain’s advice is spot on.
OMG it literally never occurred to me (despite being a highly anxious traveler) that my inability to sleep the night before was also connected to this.
Dang. Thank you for helping me realize that!
I was told years ago that someone who is late shows that they don’t respect the other person as much as themselves, as they feel that their time is more valuable.
Ten minutes late for a meeting because you were distracted by something else? You care more about your problem than the person you were meeting.
15 minutes late for supper because you forgot how long it takes to drive there? You care more about yourself than your friends.
I try to arrange my life so that small delays don’t affect things badly (I meet for drinks in places that are easily accessed so I don’t have to worry about traffic, and I set up meetings so that one person ‘collects’ the other and that way we all arrive at the same time). I’m not one who arrives early all the time, as I try to be on time and am late as often as I am early, but I know when it matters and adjust accordingly. I also dislike the ‘we need to leave 30 minutes early for everything, just in case a meteor lands in our path’ mentality, as I don’t like wasting time when it’s something like meeting friends for coffee. (I take public transit and *love* texting as it allows me to give updates on my timing – I will often text them when I get on the bus so that they know when to expect me)
It sounds like the LW’s partner believes that their time is the only one worth respecting, because they want to spend that 5 minutes on doing *their* thing whereas they do not respect the LW’s need for 5 minutes to go to the washroom or arrive a bit early to reduce stress. It’s less about justifications and rationales, and more an authoritarian decision to value themselves more than anyone else. While this may not occur elsewhere, I feel that a partner who acts this way about time is more likely to not respect their friends and partner on other topics, which makes me hope that LW’s partner is supportive in every other way.
I also have a partner who is often late, and it’s usually related to insomnia. I just meet them at the final destination because it’s the least stressful solution for both of us – we both know it’s a problem and are open to solutions.
I was told years ago that someone who is late shows that they don’t respect the other person as much as themselves, as they feel that their time is more valuable.
This is bullshit for two reasons. First, it’s commonly used to shame certain neuroatypical folk. (Not saying that the husband in this case is or isn’t; just noting that this is a dogwhistle.) Second, as an obsessively early person, this does not even come close to crossing my mind. I am early for things out of completely selfish reasons. For instance, I often feel that I need the time to mentally prepare myself for something, and that I can’t do so while still in transit.
I completely agree with the Captain about the LW’s situation, but let’s stop pretending we can read people’s minds.
It’s really NOT bullshit. If you can get to work on time, pay bills on time, do all other “important” things on time, but not meet your friends and family, you ARE being selfish.
Untrue! Sometimes it takes extraordinary effort and concentration to pay bills and get to work on time and the person runs out of steam for social commitments. And I’m not hosting the “trouble with time indicates a failing of character” discussion again, so please keep it focused on the Letter Writer’s specific situation or come back some other day, some other thread.
Thank you so much for this.
Thank you. I almost commented but remembered your note on the other post so didn’t.
Not all meetings provoke the same sort of anxiety either—which is my primary reason for running late. Getting to work on time? Super easy when I know I will have 15 minutes to compose myself before trying to talk to anyone. Seeing a movie? It’s dark! No one will notice if I look less than perfect. Attending a party with a bunch of friends-of-friends? Where I immediately have to interact and feel compelled to look like I have my shit together? I will definitely run a minimum of 10 minutes late because I keep finding one last quick thing that “needs” doing.
Gotta say, this judgey attitude also doesn’t help people who run late because they keep getting derailed by social anxiety.
What I’m saying is that the flip side is not an indicator of virtue. I get places early *for my own benefit*, not out of some morally-commendable sense of altruistic consideration for other people’s time.
Sometimes things are not about what we think they are about. You absolutely need to go to counseling, because I garauntee that this is not about what time you leave. No one can possibly care about inconveniencing another person this much. Maybe the captain is right and it’s about control? Maybe it’s about your husband wanting the intellectual stimulation of arguing? Maybe he’s tired of being early for things all the time because of work? Maybe he wants the thrill and attention of being late? Maybe he feels like you are controlling him by trying to set a time and wants to rebel?
Maybe he thinks you don’t argue enough and he needs to keep making arguments happen so you can have make up sex?
I have no idea, and neither do you, but this is what counselors are for. They can help him recognize the behavior, and they can also hopefully figure out WHY he feels the need to argue about something so stupid and inconsequential.
I notice LW wrote we could go separately but it defeats the purpose of going as a couple. I wonder if he’s difficult about going to things as well. And sadly there are enough twits out there that will hassle her endlessly of why her partner isn’t with her if he doesn’t come.
Captains advice is spot on and be prepared to leave when you want loving him behind. For now arrange outings that don’t require advance payment so that you aren’t stressed about him missing something he hasn’t paid for
I know you’ve already wasted an unreasonable amount of time on this, but if he’s going to make this a constant point of contention, I think you’re entitled to demand an explanation. Obviously this must matter a great deal to him. So he should be able to tell you why.
When you tell him what time you’re leaving, and he starts in asking how long it takes to get there/when it starts, as if your statement of fact is actually the opening bid of a negotiation, then answer his question with a question of your own – “Why?” Repeat it like you’re 3 years old. Why does he need to know anything other that what time he needs to be ready to leave if he plans to go with you? Any other information is irrelevant. You can say so, and refuse to participate in this game.
Why does he think having this argument (yet again) matters enough that your feelings can be completely disregarded? Why is it that, in everything else, he cares about you and your comfort level, and in this one thing he does not? What is about leaving the house at the stated time that bothers him so badly it completely negates his caring if you suffer? Why is arguing you into changing the leaving time you gave so important to him that he is willing to put you through hell to get it? Why is this the hill worth dying on? Why? What is it about leaving 5 damn minutes earlier that is going to hurt him? What would this very small thing you need going to cost him? And if it isn’t going to hurt him, and it isn’t going to cost him, then why does he think it’s ok to hurt YOU, and make YOU pay such a high price for not having it? He’s wasting an hour over saving 5 minutes! That is ridiculous behavior and you damn-well deserve an explanation for it!
He needs to figure out what is driving this compulsion, or he needs to come out and say whatever it is that he is using this as cover for. Then he needs to resolve to cut it out, even if that means getting therapy so he can figure out how to stop hurting his partner. Because that’s what you are – a life partner, not a sparring partner, not an adversary, not someone to rebel against for no reason, not someone to subjugate, not someone he gets to make miserable and anxious every time you two leave the house together. No reason whatsoever excuses this reflexive fuckery on his behalf. It accomplishes nothing but to make you miserable. And yet he’s fighting for it. Why? Drag that out into the light and name it for what it is. He’s accountable for getting to the root of the problem and fixing it.
And he doesn’t deserve to leave the house with you until then. You get to choose to spend your time with people who don’t make you fight for basic respect.
This probably isn’t the best solution, but I’d be so tempted to turn the I Am The Most Logical routine around on him. “What’s wrong with being early? What are you doing that’s so important that we can’t leave ten minutes sooner? Why is spending those ten minutes at home playing with your phone or in the shower or whatever ‘objectively’ better than being at the place we’re paying money to be?”
The thing I keep coming back to with this is that if someone I loved felt that sitting with me in the the theatre or wherever for an extra 15 minutes was wasted time, it would really hurt my feelings.
I understand your perspective, and I, too, would feel hurt if someone I loved truly thought “sitting with me” under any circumstances is wasted time. But I can also see the perspective of “sitting in the theater or wherever” is a waste of time or unenjoyable experience for someone, and the presence of a loved one does not make that experience better for that person.
Actually, I have found the presence of some people I love to make annoying situations (to me) even more irritating, because they believe that simply because they there and we are together, that it somehow makes the annoying situation not annoying or even enjoyable for me. Then they get pouty or upset with me for not being happy about being with them, when I can’t really enjoy being with them because the situation is not enjoyable for me for reasons that have nothing to do with them. Needless to stay, I don’t do as much with these people I love as I would want, because of their expectations of how I should feel and act when I am with them… it becomes an obligation of social performance that I just don’t have the energy for.
Sorry, bit of a rant, there. I didn’t mean to imply that was where you were coming from. It’s just that some people in my life, most significantly my parents, have negatively judged my actions (or lack thereof) in some cases as being about them and a reflection of how I don’t love/respect/appreciate them, when whatever action I did or choice I made didn’t have anything to do with them at all. Thus, I’ve heard many variations of “You don’t want to sit with me for x amount of time? You don’t love me!” In ways that were meant to shame me into acting the way they wanted me to. I’m sure many, many, maaaaaaany others have experienced the same thing with one or more of their parental units.
I know that is NOT what you were writing about — the hurt feelings of rejection are real. I think it’s where a conversation needs to be had to clarify actions, feelings, and expectations and how to reach a place where feelings are less likely to get hurt. And when the other person won’t discuss things with you and try to resolve the situation… that’s when you write in to Captain Awkward!
Sometimes the problem isn’t “sitting with me in the theatre” but “sitting [with or without me] in the theatre,” perhaps because the seats are uncomfortable for them. The solution there, I think, is to travel separately, or for the person who dislikes sitting in the theatre to wait in the lobby until close to curtain time: but sometimes a friend or loved one’s presence isn’t enough to make an activity pleasurable.
I don’t think that specifically is what’s going on here, since LW’s husband is objecting to getting anywhere before the last minute, but it seems possible either that what’s going on isn’t something where “but we’re together” is going to help, or that it helps but only in the sense that he’d be even more unhappy if he was sitting alone for twenty minutes before she got there.
Cosigning this, as a fat-plus-fairly-tall person who finds the seats at MANY entertainment venues uncomfortable, tries to plan seating accordingly, but still is often uncomfortable from being able to only just barely wedge into the seats. And as a person with a once-broken-it-never-healed-right leg, which sometimes makes that worse.
Moderator Note: DO NOT attempt to diagnose the husband with a mental health condition or disorder. It is against the site policies for many reasons one of them being that even if you are somehow correct, it does little or nothing to help the person who is dealing with the behavior.
This is also a reminder that one possible option the husband has is “I feel weird and anxious when we need to leave the house and it’s very upsetting to me. Maybe I’ll research that or talk to a professional and get to the bottom of why so I can stop feeling so terrible and tormenting my spouse.”
(I am always late for in-my-case-brain reasons and my partner is always early for basically the SAME brain reasons. She announces “I am getting antsy, can we go now?” and I STOP CROCHETING OR WHATEVER and go, or explain what’s keeping me from going. Options! Options include not being rude!)
I once dated a guy like this. It took me a couple of months to figure him out. The last straw was when he was in the process of making me late for a concert in which I was to perform. I left him behind at the house and stopped worrying about him. That evening, after the concert, I dumped him. Too bad you didn’t see this coming, LW. Earlier ultimatums may have worked. I fear his need to control you are too deep learning ensconced to be rooted out.
I dated a guy like that a few times in college. The first couple of times he was fifteen minutes late, I overlooked it. The third time or so, I said something about it and asked him to make more of an effort. The last time was when we arranged to meet at a movie theatre, and I told him to meet me there at 4:00 since it started at 4:17. I showed up at 4:00, waited impatiently, and bought a ticket and went inside by myself at 4:15. Sure enough, at about 4:25, I saw him walking down the aisle toward me. I hoped he wouldn’t see me in the dark, but sadly, he did and joined me. I hissed “What are you doing here?!” at him. He nonchalantly replied “We had a date!” I said “Yeah, we did. Twenty minutes ago. Not anymore.”
In retrospect, I should have changed seats or left rather than sitting through the rest of the movie next to him in awkward silence, but screw it.
I agree that it’s not about time management but rather that he enjoys pissing her off and the attention he gets from arguing. It reminds me a lot of my ex–not time management specifically, though his tendency to drag his feet leaving did indeed provoke me to travel separately often. What I thought about in reading this post, though, was my ex’s attention seeking via argument about other issues, like him making excuses for not helping with housework or inventing things he thought I was mad about while ignoring things I WAS upset about, etc. I eventually realized that he was looking for arguments as a way to make me wrong because he didn’t want to make room for me in his life and ended it.
If this guy cares about his wife or the marriage at all, he’ll at least make it to counseling sessions on time. If not, well, there’s the answer.
Imo LW, you don’t need to wait a month to try marriage counseling. And while it’s always a good idea to schedule fun things alone or with your friends, I don’t think there’s much benefit in doing that and hoping your husband notices why you’re not hanging out with him. That would be passive aggressive.
Sometimes a generally good partner will have a weird hangup about a specific issue, and they’ll be uncharacteristically unhelpful and disrespectful around it. If that’s what’s going on with your husband, than counseling could really help. A good counselor should be able to teach you to listen to each other’s preferences and communicate your needs in way that works for both of you.
Of course, sometimes a partner is just an abusive jerk, and they cover their butt well enough that the jerkiness is only really noticeable in one or two minor areas because those are the only areas in which their partner doesn’t automatically acquiesce to them. If that’s really what’s going on here, then your husband will probably blow up at you for suggesting counseling, or agree in principle but find a problem with every counselor you pick and not be willing to pick one himself, or attend the sessions and make the right noises but not actually change his behavior.
Either way, you’ll know, and that’s good information to have.
My partner and I are not same time scale people I am early one and he is a just in time one or even a little late is fine. Usually we solve this by if it is my plan/event we leave at my time if it is his we leave at his time. But even then If i tell my partner honey i really need to get that early other wise i’ll stress about it there is no argument he would rather i not be stressed than save 15 -20 minutes of his time not having to wait. Sometimes we get there early and some times only just on time.
It shouldn’t be an argument if it is something that does not harm or inconvenience you, then you should be willing to do the thing asked of you if it significantly improves things for your partner.
I’m so sorry, LW. My husband and I have similar dissimilarities regarding Beliefs About When It’s Time To Leave (only I am the not the early bird). We have not, in 10 years, entirely resolved the problem. I suppose I have nothing substantial to add to the conversation but wanted to lend my support to the Captain’s position that this is probably about control and to share my own experience in a similar dynamic regarding time. It took awhile to understand one another’s positions (the wait, you’re not just like me? part of the relationship) and getting to acknowledgment that the other person isn’t wrong. This was not easy; there was a lot of early learning, family dynamics, preferences about socialization, etc. I hear how stressed you are and am not suggesting that you even consider this in your circumstance; just saying that it took some doing. AND saying that in my hetero normative relationship it was she who led that work, and that it still bubbles up, even after 10 years, usually related to stress or heightened emotions.
Next, it was about figuring out some strategies, thoroughly discussed elsewhere. For things that are for or about us, we usually do it his way: he is REALLY unhappy about not being 15 minutes early, so I accommodate it (and have actually found that many things are much more pleasant when I’m not “running late”). Sometimes, when I feel as though he’s wanting to control a situation or to make me responsible for meeting his wants, there is renegotiation. Just last week we left 15 minutes early for something that is 5 minutes away, which I was willing to go along with until afterwards, when Sulky Man wanted to know why I kept him waiting at the end of the evening because Why Did I Have to Hang Around Talking to People When It Was Over, Anyway? (cue extended argument) I expect this will come up again,but not for awhile. Honestly, after all this time I’m not even sure that he actually *believes* that this is not about being right. But who cares, because his behavior is (mostly) respectful. And after all, I changed my behavior because I love him, not because I’m wrong.
Dear LW, I wonder has he always been like this or has his behaviour changed? When you had just met each other did he bicker about scheduling back then? I completely agree with the other commenters that this kind of behaviour is so not cool and he has to stop it. Still, Dopameanie might have a point: if this is a relatively new behavioural pattern then there might be an underlying issue behind it; in my opinion control issues and proxy-wars do not rule each other out.
The Captain gave excellent ideas, like always – and I love her suggestion of a period of one month of observation. Of course, there is no good reason to cause one’s spouse stress and anxiety if it can be avoided and clearly these stupid arguments could be avoided. I am just left wondering why this matter? Does he even know himself? Men are often not brought up to understand and deal with their feelings which is a shame. Something about this just makes me think about raising toddlers and the ways they fight their parents. Is there something in these events he does not like or he fears? Is he jealous? Does he behave like this before all the events or only before some of them?
I do not think that you should do all this emotional work for him – but if you want to save and possibly improve your relationship to him observations of these things might help.
Best of luck, dear LW! May you have many fun events in the future!
I understand the appeal of hanging out sans husband for a month or so. I still vote for two other things as well:
– End all discussion. Leave the room if he keeps talking.
– For any stuff already reserved, leave his ticket for him or at the box office or whatever. Just go.
Yes, I think this is a control thing.
Oh, LW, I feel your pain. I take after my mother – both of us have punctuality-related anxieties and we are surrounded by people for whom -ish is a time (as in “I’ll arrive at five-ish,”) or people whose travel “takes longer than anticipated” and it drives me batty. I have made it utterly clear that if I’m going somewhere I would rather be an hour early than just on time or five minutes late. The difference between my situation and yours is that when I told my Dad/Uncle/Other Uncle/Whoever is giving me a lift they didn’t tell me that my preferences are Objectively Wrong, and they apologised when they slipped up and we were late to things/my anxiety spiked.
Once we were going to the Andrea Bocelli concert in the Point and I suggested leaving at 5pm or no later than 5.30. My Uncle decided that because the concert didn’t start until 8pm that 6.30 was The One True Right Time To Leave. I didn’t argue. I did point out when we were stuck in traffic for two hours that the concert had started, that next time he could listen to me or not go to the concert and then sarcastically thanked him for the opportunity to have an anxiety attack right before/during what was supposed to be a lovely experience.
He. Never. Questioned. My. Travel. Arrangements. Again. He recognised that he had erred pretty badly and learned that the effect on me was not something he wanted to repeat.
I don’t know if this would help you, but I found pointing out that anxiety/panic attacks make you feel like you are legit going to die even if objectively you know that’s not the case helped me to make people around me understand my thing about showing up ridiculously early to things. Honestly, I sincerely doubt it, because your hubby’s actions sound like gaslighting rather than not being good at time. I hope the Captain’s advice helps.
LW, I am both chronically late and anxious if late, and I was almost hyperventilating before I got to the end of your letter, because your issue is respect and courtesy, not time.
Best of luck!
Have you pointed out to your husband that he’s treating you like dirt over this issue? Does he harangue you about other things, or is it just about departure time?
I’m wondering if he even cares that he’s basically ruining every fun thing that you plan with him by acting like a total tool/King Baby over this issue. It’s ridiculous to waste an hour arguing about 10 minutes, and it’s sucking the life out of your dates.
I think the Captain is spot-on. I am somewhat bad at Time, so I like to leave extra margin when I can. My husband is even worse at Time, plus he’s overly optimistic about his ability to fold space.
However, when I advise him I’d like to leave at X, he’s happy to go along with that. He may or may not quite manage it, but he doesn’t make it into a point of contention.
It’s particularly odd that your husband can’t seem to “remember” that you like to go to the bathroom and/or get water or otherwise get settled when you arrive.
These are basic human needs, and generally people recall and account for their loved one’s basic needs from day to day. I mean, I may not remember whether my kids like bananas today or if this is an Ugh, Bananas! day, because that changes a lot.
But I know that my dad needs to blow his nose when he eats, that my husband needs longer in the bathroom than I do, my daughter needs to get up & move between courses in a meal, etc.
Does he think he keeps waking up next to a stranger?
Husband’s behavior is soooooooo disrespectful.
I think this disrespect is a deeper problem underlying the manifestation of “we argue about how long it takes to get places.”
As an example, I’m a real nervous nellie about being on time for things. I’ve legit had panic attacks in airports because I believed (unreasonably, in retrospect) that I would miss a connection. If I can’t arrive to my destination with at least 5 minutes to spare, I feel late, I get very uneasy, and my crankiness makes me snap at people when I’m not careful. So my husband … sucks it up, and we leave for things earlier than he thinks we need to. And we almost always arrive early, and it’s not actually a problem. (If we’re early to someone’s house, as opposed to a public venue or a restaurant, then we’ll wait in the car or stroll around the block.) And my husband will laugh at me or tease me — IN A GOOD-NATURED WAY — but he respects me and understands that this is a huge, huge thing for me.
I mean, we can agree to disagree about how long it will take to get places, but since the fear of being late is so distressing to one of us, the other one not just lets it go, but affirmatively accommodates it. This is care and respect in the relationship.
I feel you. I once showed up early to the flight *before* the one I was taking departed, just so I wouldn’t have that awful feeling that I was going to be late. It was kinda cool watching the plane pull away from the gate and then a couple of hours later, pull back in. (SO glad I had my laptop in my hand luggage and the airport had free wifi though!)
I think the Captain is right about this being a dominance display and the need to set firm boundaries. Start asking other people to do things with you that have hard arrival times whenever possible. With your husband, maybe start choosing plans without hard arrival times. It doesn’t matter exactly when we show up at this restaurant that doesn’t require reservations, museum, hiking trail, bar where the band will be playing all night, etc.
For things with hard arrival times that you really need him for (eg. family wedding), when possible plan a disposable pre-event explore in the area (cool bar, bookstore, gallery, etc.). Shaver can shave that arrival time and you know that if anything goes wrong you can jettison the disposable event. Bonus – I’ve found so many cool places this way while waiting to meet people who I know are bound to be a little late.
You’re stressed by leaving at the last minute. You’ve told him you’re stressed by this. He wants you to tell him that you’re stressed Every Single Time, and then he wants to leave whenever he wants to leave.
If you’re not leaving at his chosen time, he’ll argue and drag his feet and sabotage you until you’re doing what he wants anyway. (Which of you is the passive-agressive one again?) And then he’ll punish you with an hour’s argument.
That you think this may be your fault is a giant red flag. When one person says ‘this hurts me’ and the other says ‘logic says that you cannot be hurt’ there is something really badly wrong. The fact that he’s calculating how much pressure he is putting on your foot by taking into account his body weight, the size of his feet, the physical characteristics of the material of the soles of his sneakers, how squishy _your_ socks and shoe soles are and citing evidence of at which ratio pain becomes measurable … none of this negates the fact that he’s STANDING ON YOUR FUCKING FOOT AND IGNORING THAT YOU’VE TOLD HIM SO.
I don’t think there’s a good outcome to be had once he crossed the line of ‘you have told me that you’re hurting but I don’t care’.
This is gold.
I like to be early and often get anxious about being on time, and my husband tends to be a little more relaxed about it. He defers to me about leaving times, since I usually keep the social calendar. Sometimes he forgets, and will jump in the shower 5 minutes before we leave…and I get stressed, but then he notices my stress, apologizes, and we get out the door. And he doesn’t hassle me or force me to list all the reasons for my preference and stress. So I can more easily forgive him for forgetting every now and then for that, because he’s not trying to exert control – he just forgets. Just as I sometimes forget to clean up my laundry pile…and he gently reminds me, I apologize, clean it up, and we go on our way. I don’t force him into a dissertation defense about why my laundry pile stresses him out.
LW, I really hope that you can take some breaks from your husband and do some nice things for you, like Captain suggested. If you were the problem, then he’d be doing a lot more compromising and emotional labor, instead of just “NOPE!” to all your suggestions and extended arguments about why you’re wrong. HE is the problem.
The Captain is right – this is a Control issue. I would definitely look at other areas in your life and see if he does the same. I know the time is one area you care passionately about but are there other areas he may be controlling that you just don’t see – such as where you go to eat, who pays what bill, etc? Just because it’s not a conflict doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. His absolute insistence on arguing about the leaving time every single time is a huge red flag, making him sound bossy and domineering. I find it hard to believe that you generally get along great, unless it’s because you go along with what he wants and therefore he is appeased.
I am ashamed to say that I have been the controlling jerk this husband is. For most of my life. Like, until very recently and I swear I am trying to change but something is broken in me and that stuff takes a long time to fix.
I never knew any way to relate to people except to be a passive aggressive jerk because displaying my true feelings or asking reasonably for what I wanted or needed was just not something I was ever shown growing up. Also I grew up in an environment where arguing was more “normal” than being happy so to this day I find myself picking arguments because I don’t know any other way to talk to my family.
All that said, your husband won’t change, not without years of his own motivation and effort and a realisation that you will not be around for it. My spouse made it clear he wouldn’t stand for my BS. That, coupled with a genuine effort on my part to improve are the only reasons we are still married.
Ugh, anon… I think we may have grown up in the same house. Too often, I find myself acting out the same toxic patterns of communication and relationship I learned in childhood. I am fortunate to have a patient, self-confident partner who has no problem letting me know (kindly) when I’m behaving like an ass, but doesn’t shame or judge me for it. He just presents me the opportunity to choose to do something else. And, because I feel safe with him, I can drop the emotional cloaking device of control and just be vulnerable.
So, I can say, “sorry I was arguing with you about what time to leave for The Official Tardiness And Latecomings Banishment Soiree. See, I’ve always been the one with all the answers. So, when you had a different idea, I felt threatened- like, maybe I don’t really have value if I can’t even figure out what time to leave for the T.O.T.A.L.B.S. shindig today. Of course, that’s TOTAL BS & I’m sorry for behaving like a total tool for a minute. Forgive me?”
Maybe LW’s husband could be in this kind of a place but not realize or be willing to deal with it?
It’s nice to hear your and Ugh, Anon’s POV! I think CA’s advice not to reframe the argument but to completely change the behavior is good because if LW’s husband is motivated to work on his BS, it’s probably a very complex and lengthy process that LW’s husband needs to work through on his own. Arguing differently and managing time differently, except to explain why LW is behaving differently per CA’s advice, doesn’t really give him the reasons and the space to do this. I totally understand following the patterns I learned from my family of origin, by the way, and while mine play out differently they are SO DIFFICULT to catch, to understand, and to change. It’s never really about other people or getting joy out of making them miserable, but at the same time it isn’t something other people have to stick around and suffer through, either.
Reading this made me deeply uncomfortable. LW it sounds like this guy enjoys your distress and purposely causes it. I’m deeply concerned that he’s doing it in more areas than just this time thing, and suggest you really pay attention to how he is at other moments in your relationship where you are distressed but he is not.
LW, the way I see it, your husband wants you to suffer, either through the stress of arriving at the last moment for events, or through the cross-examination you have to go through EVERY FREEKING TIME you request leaving with a reasonable time buffer. Why does he want this? Where is this hostility coming from? Something to explore in counseling (if he’ll even go). Otherwise, Captain gives good advice and I’m sorry for your situation, it sounds miserable.
Addendum: The problem, to me, with “just leave without him” is two-fold.
One, as Captain says in the post, if he’s doing this to be an aggressive jerk, he’ll just find a new way to hurt you. Two, I am guessing that at least SOME of these outings are things he doesn’t want to go to (and would rather be playing video games at home) or where it would be legitimately embarrassing to show up without him (“Janey, where’s your husband? Oh, he’s coming in separate vehicles but our marriage is FINE, really.”)
I don’t have a happy answer here except counseling. But this is not normal and it’s NOT your fault.
I think that second half of your second thing is a return awkward to sender issue, though. “Janey, where’s your husband?” “Why do you ask?”
Well, I’m not sure people are being awkward, necessarily. Yes, obviously spouses are separate people and don’t normally travel to all the things together all the times. But in general, if both spouses are invited to something, people assume both spouses will be there, and if one isn’t, they will ask about it just out of genuine concern, cause maybe the missing spouse is sick or something. But when the truth is, “Well, he’s being a butt to me AGAIN and couldn’t be bothered to leave 10 minutes early even though he knows it’s important to me”…..that can feel humiliating. I have been in a similar situation before. It can almost be easier to just not show up and have to have that conversation than to show up alone and not have a good answer for the sincere questions. Cause sometimes you know that the real answer is that there’s something hurtful and not normal going on in your relationship, and you’re not ready to reveal that to other people yet.
This is where so-rehearsed-they-don’t-sound-like-scripts scripts come in: “Oh, it just worked out better driving separately. Spouse will be here soon.”
It’s not necessary to spill one’s guts to tell the truth. Sometimes we’re so aware of how BIG the Truth, All the Truth, and Nothing But the Truth is, that we can’t see that it can be reframed to a simple sentence, because most people are not entitled to All and Nothing But.
I agree with your point and was more thinking about making the husband answer for his own lateness rather than the LW taking on that emotional labor.
If someone said that to me after I asked where their partner was, when I expected to see their partner, I would give that person a weird look and say “because we invited Partner to this event and I was expecting to see them?”
And I would find that person to be strange and hostile.
Yeah, that would be a glaring moment of “woah, ok, something weird’s going on between them.” It’d be better to just say “oh, we had some separate things we had to do so we’re arriving separately.” You don’t have to mention that his “separate thing” isn’t working late or an errand, but just his shitty time management.
My vote goes to We decided to come separately. I’m sure he’ll get here soon.
Yes, this is kind of a Grice’s Maxims small talk situation. Communicating that the whereabouts of a spouse are none of the asker’s business can actually be too MUCH information/letting someone too far into the conflicts of your life. “Oh, we had to take separate cars” is plenty. Even laughingly going “we’re trying a separate cars thing since I like to be early and he likes to work until the last minute” communicates less information about the fact that there’s an open conflict, if the tone is nonchalant-enough. The asker is actually not that interested in the question – unless they’re a huge busybody, in which case presenting them with the tantalizing hint of real drama afoot will backfire.
At least in my local context, 96% of rote social questions are not asked to exchange much real information. They’re the equivalent of dog-park butt-sniffing, and that’s _fine_. So long as you can exchange a counter-sniff and not snap or bristle everyone will just keep moving and will forget whatever specifics were exchanged in about five minutes. (Everyone else might already know this, but I’m neuroatypical and it took me forever to figure out).
NETA: Counseling yes definitely though.
It sounds like you’re operating on the assumption that people will hear “separate vehicles” and assume “marital problems”, but that hasn’t been my experience at all! I know lots of married couples that have arrived at or left events separately, for all kinds of reasons – social stamina, illness, busy-ness, don’t really like some of the people there, chronic fatigue, morning meeting, work schedules, and on and on. My husband and I routinely leave parties at different times because I have way more party in me than he does. If you’re nonchalant about it, most people will be, too.
Well, and one of the ways to get comfortable having a boundary (or so they tell me in therapy 😛 ) is to try to rearrange the situation so that as little of your happiness as possible is hinging on the other person’s decision. This is where sinking your energy into you-only events and you-and-other-friends events comes into play: trying to decrease your emotional investment and the amount of your happiness that rests on your husband going to the thing on time, going to the thing with you, or going at all.
It’s TOUGH and I hate having to do it, myself, but unfortunately, like, when two people get very locked into a high-energy storm system like this, one of the only things that can help is one person just… removing energy from that system. A side effect: whatever he’s got going on with going to [these events] [in timeframe], he’s currently successfully avoiding anything that’s going on with HIM SPECIFICALLY by making this a you-and-him problem. If there genuinely IS something occurring on his side and he’s not just trying to control your emotions, then these fights might be a really good way to avoid dealing with or thinking about whatever that is. If you remove your energy from this system as much as possible, then you stop helping him procrastinate on owning whatever the heck is going on here. (That said, I believe you, LW, when you say otherwise that he genuinely is otherwise great – but if he then transfers fighting fighting fighting to something else, that is information. I don’t want to make you feel like you’re responsible for ignoring/not responding to genuinely bad behavior).
I totally agree with the other commenters that this could be a control issue.
But I also think it could be a genuine timing / happiness-with-waiting issue. (& I’m someone who does timing maths as a matter of course & is happy to discuss it out loud – it strikes me as natural& normal to do so). If this is the issue then there might be a two part solution:
* when saying how long it will take to get somewhere give a range – a range is after all true . So instead of “35 mins” a longer answer is “probably 35-45 depending on traffic & parking (or whatever)”
*call the pre-event time at the venue something other than “buffer” time – that sounds dull & unnecessary. How about something like “ambience” time- time to chill out & enjoy just being there – watching other people, getting into the zone for whatever is happening next. Relabelling it in this way indicates that to you it’s effectively part of the experience of the event itself. Then add it into the calculation “I’d like a bit of ambience time as well – minimum 5 mins but 15 would be nicer”
Then you can add them together “so in total we need to leave at t-50”
I’m only suggesting this if it’s a genuine timing issue – if it’s about control then I’m totally with the captain. One way of telling if it’s control might be to ask him to back calculate his timings in a similar way & see if he’s willing to do so (if he is it’s about timing). Or if he refuses to discuss (it’s about control)
I suggest this partly because I once had a flat mate who (it eventually turned out) thought I was challenging/belittling her when I (reasonably often) asked her “how sure are you about that?” – I wasn’t intending to belittle – I just wanted to know – having a range of certainties myself between wild-speculation & sun-comes-up-tomorrow. And knowing her sureness was useful information to be – especially when what she said conflicted with my middle range beliefs. When I told my flat mate I was totally open to being asked about my certainty (& tried to reduce asking her a bit) then things were fine. So a similar approach might work with time calculations.
He’s set this up so there is no win scenario. This seems like a perfect opportunity to take the attitude my aunt always had, which was that if the other person is going to make trouble no matter which option you take, you might as well suit yourself. He’s going to be awful no matter what you do, so you might as well leave when it suits you. My family is difficult (aren’t they all) and would always make things an issue, and it helped a lot to just do what suited me best. The flow on effect was that once they saw that their angsting wasn’t actually changing my course of action, they massively reduced it. He doesn’t like leaving separately, or leaving earlier? You don’t like the endless harangue, and he’ll harangue you either way so you might as well suit yourself.
I don’t have a whole lot to add to all these insightful comments, but I will put in a supporting anecdote to the “reasonable accommodations include not going places together, and that isn’t a comment on your relationship” group:
My mom and dad rarely drive to anything together, including dinner at the restaurant in the village that is about 5 minutes away, but also including drives up to 6 hours away. They have very different travel styles: my mom wants to leave promptly, drive straight through to something, arrive early, settle in, and get things managed, and leave promptly. My dad wants to finish up one of ten things he’s doing, then remember the thing he forgot, check the doors are locked (twice), and stop along the way at that cafe where he’s friends with the owner just to say hello, and then linger with friends and not leave til he has to.
I asked Mom about it once, and she said that they realized early on in their marriage that trying to go places together was just a recipe for disaster, because they both ended up really stressed and unhappy. Instead, they chose to see the differences as strengths, accept that driving to places together was a generally poor plan, and only travel together when it is really needful. Their lives are better for it, they’ve found a system that works really well for them, and they’ve been happily married for almost 40 years now.
My husband and I have this problem. I’m a Just In Time person, he’s super punctual and builds in lots of buffer time. It used to be really frustrating because I hate him rushing me to get ready when I know we still have plenty of time until the event starts, I hate arriving before the start time and having to wait in the car/waiting room/wherever, and I hate turning up at a social event before everyone else is there. All these things are seriously anxiety-inducing for me. Meanwhile, he hates leaving at the last minute, rushing to get somewhere, worrying that we’ll miss the start or won’t get a parking space, actually missing the start, etc.
The difference is we:
a) understand neither of us “right”. I have no concept of the passage of time + illogical anxiety. His punctuality and excess buffer time often results in us arriving at an event before our hosts are expecting anyone, or sitting at the airport gate for hours because it’s so early none of the shops are even open yet.
b) try to compromise and find solutions that work for both of us: sometimes by meeting in the middle (he wants to leave at 7.30 but I don’t think we need to leave until 8 = we leave at 7.45), sometimes by doing it his way because it makes sense to allow extra time, sometimes by doing it my way because there’s really no need to allow extra time, sometimes (quite often, actually) by traveling separately so we can each leave at our preferred time without either person being upset or anxious.
A just in time or even chronically late person isn’t necessarily being a dick (a lot of people will disagree with me, but there’s been a lot of research and writing on this lately – there are a few different potential explanations for chronic lateness, and dickishness isn’t one of them). But someone who doesn’t recognise that your desire to leave early is also valid and doesn’t want to find a solution that works for both of you…is kind of being a dick.
Yes I hear you 100% here!
My best friend/roommate is a “always be super early” person and I’m a “just in time” person. Mostly for anxiety reasons, just like you – I don’t like waiting alone at a table, or being the only one at a party, or awkwardly looking around a building for the right venue. There’s also that I work a lot of hours and am currently saddled with a long commute, so all the time I have Not At Work and Not In The Subway is very precious. If I have 20 minutes to spare, I want them at home in my PJs, not freezing my feet in the front of a museum that isn’t even open yet.
We had some falling outs, but ultimately we both managed to understand each other. She gets my anxiety, I get hers. She tries not to rush me, and I agree to leave a little earlier than I normally would. We negotiate because like Cap said there is no One True Perfect Departure Time!
The real issue here is the husband’s refusal to compromise I believe. “When you make plans you make all the plans” is actually a pretty damn good solution – whoever takes on the mental load of planning gets to pick the departure time. If the husband can’t roll with it, does start looking more like a control issue than just a preference issue.
I do hear you on not wanting to be too early for practical reasons. I tend to err on the side of being early but in the past few years I’ve learned to temper that when necessary. Sometimes I have a dance class in a venue that’s not even unlocked until the instructors get there 10 minutes before class, so being super early there means being outside in the cold. Sometimes I know the bar I’m meeting someone in is not a bar I want to be alone in. I also know that going to someone’s house before they’re expecting people isn’t just awkward, it’s rude! So I force myself to only aim to be a few minutes early, and accept that I might be a little late but that’s not the worst thing.
In all fairness, dickishness very much can be a reason for chronic lateness. I think because research might show some other reasons, and how those reasons are correctable for many people, it might make it seem this way, but well, selfish people exist.
Yes. I am someone who prefers to be early. One of my dearest friends is bad with time and often late (I know of at least one time that she and her husband missed flights, and another where they probably broke some kind of land speed record for sprinting-with-suitcases to not miss a flight…)
When she and I do stuff together (and we’ve taken holidays together more than once) we compromise.
So for holidays, we get to the airport early (and I have her permission to tell her the flight is earlier than it actually is, to achieve this). and for less time sensitive things,we often end up later than we planned because I try not to get stressed or to try to hurry her when there isn’t really a hard deadline, just on we agreed on.
When we are meeting up to go to the there, we agree to met for drinks at (or next door to) the theatre for drinks, that way, if she’s late for the drinks, we can still be on time for the show.
If we are just arranging to meet up (say when out shopping), she makes a real effort to be wherever we agreed to meet, on time, I make sure that I have something to read and will make the effort not to call or text to start asking where she is until at least 15 minutes past the time we planned to meet,
And we *also* talk, because we each care about the other, so I know that I can ask her to make the extra effort to be on time/early for something to help reduce my stress, and she knows she can ask me for the opposite if she needs it.
It does sound as though LW’s husband is unwilling to compromise or to consider her at all, and that is what makes me think this is about control.
Hi LW, this sounds outright abusive. You may not be comfortable using that word, but don’t ignore your feelings or other things that are going on.
My experience with similar behaviour by my ex-husband in relation to time management is that control issues like this usually aren’t just confined to one area, but manifest elsewhere in the relationship, like The One True Way To Store Bread (= in the freezer, which I discussed in a comment on post #963, it’s about 2/3 of the way down the page) or Having Friends Over For Dinner Without Him Is Mean.
The sulking about my having people over without him occurred despite him having a job as an airline pilot which meant he was away from home about 50% of the time. He also arranged his roster around a sport he played, so even when he was home there were virtually no time slots available that suited other people to get together, and he had no problem with the idea of HIM socialising with other people when he was away (“oh but that’s different, it’s not something planned, and it’s not the same thing as inviting people to our house, and you can’t expect me to just sit in my hotel room”). His solo socialising included him having unprotected sex on at least one occasion while overseas plus a longer term affair.
It’s worth trying the Captain’s suggestion on doing things by yourself and seeing how he reacts, but I suspect it will be badly. Same with couples counselling – worth a try, but don’t be surprised if you get nowhere. When your partner starts arguing with the counsellor about The One True Way then you know it’s doomed.
The thing is that NONE of these behaviours felt abusive at the time. I always excused it by telling myself that he was anxious, socially awkward etc. Even now, despite the psychological damage it caused (serious mental health problems, I’ve been in long term therapy since a suicide attempt, I haven’t had a relationship in the 13 years since we divorced), I STILL find it difficult to call it abuse and think it must be at least partly my fault.
Your needs have value, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, no matter how long you’ve been married.
Since LW wants to have date nights with her husband… maybe pick stuff where it makes sense to arrive separately? Like, a movie after work where you don’t go home and go out again together, but travel from your respective places of employment. Or stuff like “I’m going to the market tomorrow morning, why don’t you come along around 11-ish and we’ll have lunch?”
That way it’s less, “screw you, I’ll travel by myself!” and more “it makes sense to travel separately, but the important thing is the time we will share together”. I also think it will be interesting to see how your partner reacts to you having control over your own travel to your dates with him. Like, does he hate the idea of you two travelling separately because it’s a REJECTION of HIM and therefore have no real complaints when there are other reasons?
My ex was CERTAIN that his judgement was best when it came to timing (actually, when it came to everything). So certain that once when we left on-time-almost-late to get to the airport, he insisted on going to a sit-down dinner on the way and bristling when I said we didn’t have time. Guess who missed my flight? This girl. And afterwards, whenever I insisted that we stick to my timing, he threw a fit because “I didn’t trust him anymore over one incident.” You bet I didn’t.
It was a bigger issue than leaving at the right time. It sounds like this is too.
“No shit, Sherlock.”
I could be wrong but I think the “No Shit, Sherlock” was intended to support you, as in “No Shit ex, that I don’t trust you over one [pretty big deal actually] incident, what amazing powers of deduction you have”. I actually love the expression as the old school “thank you, Captain Obvious”.
What Phir Bi Dil said! I’m so sorry. I should have made it clearer that that was intended as a response to your ex.
Wow, “you don’t trust my time management skills just because that ONE time I made you miss a flight” takes a special kind of special.
So, if I were to give your husband the benefit of doubt here and assume that this issue isn’t about controlling you, it might just be about his need to prove that it’s okay to do things his way. And it is, but it’s also okay to do things your way.
Would it help to have a meta conversation with your husband where you tell him that you need to be early, because it’s what *you* need.It doesn’t matter if you can scrape in at the last moment. *You* have a need to be early. It doesn’t even have to be logical. (It is logical, but it really doesn’t have to be.) I’m sure there are areas in which you make accommodations for him. That’s what you do in a relationship. As for the potential argument of, why are your needs more important than his, well, they’re not. But his needs aren’t more important than yours either. If his need to wait to the last second is that strong, what’s the big deal about leaving separately? I mean, you still get to experience the event together. And neither has to resent the other.
Exactly. Because it makes me happy is not a bad reason.
Absolutely. What was in my mind, but I couldn’t exactly articulate in my above post, is that LW’s husband is not just arguing with LW. He may be arguing with everybody in his life since childhood who told him to hurry up and be on time. So he feels the need to push back and prove that he’s right.
So it’s handy to just take the “rightness” out of the equation. She doesn’t have to prove that she’s right. It’s enough that it makes her happy.
My spouse has significant PTSD and therefore, anything with a timedate gives him significant anxiety and so he always feels the need to be out the door well in advance. I have ADHD and have a hard time gauging time passage at all. Being rushed feels overwhelming to me and my first instinct is to dig in my heels. But we don’t have hour long arguments over it. We get irritated with each other, but there is a fundamental respect and I think it is okay to dialogue and compromise a bit -extend patience both ways. But your person seems TOTALLY unwilling to compromise. That is not okay. It shows an unwillingness to hear the person who you have a combined life with, and that doesn’t work. The nature of living with another necessitates blending and finding enough reaching ability to work with one another. So long as each person can and is happy with the result. In other words, dude is putting all the work on you and being really selfish.
This sounds like Roald Dahl’s “The Way Up to Heaven”:
(Though obviously I don’t advocate for the way that story ended)
I had this problem of not being ready with my kids. They weren’t control freak negotiators but one would at times but be ready at time z. After yes of bagging a therapist said of course she doesn’t listen you always wait for her. Try leaving at time z. She may miss an event or two but she will learn a valuable lesson. It worked. I’d suggest that you guys go in 2 cars lihe you said. Refuse to engage. Thus is him picking a stupid fight. Say this is when I’m leaving I hope to see you there. Then do it: first time is hardest. And walk away when he starts in with the ass grinding minutiae bullsh$$$. Lordy what a weiner. I gave a sneaky feeling he does other controlling things also. Therapist… Will tell him this too.
J, I just have to tell you I’m singing this catchy line from your post to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”:
“Lordy, lordy, what a weiner…
Lordy, lordy, what a weiner…”
I will now be singing that in my head whenever I am dealing with someone who behaves like…well…a weiner! 🙂
And as always CA nailed it. Find other folks to hang with… Perspective…
What is Husband like on timing that does not involve Letter Writer? Knowing that would give information that could influence what to do next after the month of seeing how it goes. Does he slide into his seat at movie theaters after the lights are down when he goes alone or goes with others? Does his boss at work notice how down to the wire he is on appointments that don’t concern LW?
Sort of. It informs perhaps as to his motives but I would hate to see LW try to diagnose this. She’s being really disrespected. Dies it matter why in the end?
I think it does matter. It helps decide if this is a matter of can’t or won’t. If he can’t get places on time and is explaining how his wife has unreasonable expectations for him, then they deal with the matter one way. If he won’t get places on time when he’s going with her, then the problem is dealt with another. I don’t see it as a matter of diagnosis.
LW, I am usually the “leave at the last minute one”, and my DH likes to get everywhere 20-40 minutes early. If we have to get to three different things in a day, in my mind that’s 40 minutes X 3 = 2 hours of time wasted sitting around bored (DH doesn’t chat, so unless I bring a Kindle, that’s up to 40 minutes spent watching paint dry, up to 3 times a day). And considering how packed most days are, that’s probably the very 1-2 hours I would have had free to do anything I wanted to do that day, including psyching myself up to get past my social anxiety and get into a frame of mind where I could actually enjoy Other People.
But we still don’t argue about it. We’ve both had days where he was right, because we were late for something important. And where I was right, because arriving 40 minutes early for a movie + 35 minutes of ads and trailers = over an hour at the theater even before the rather boring movie actually started. DH isn’t a chatter, so that’s over an hour of sitting in silence, bored, before another 1.5 hours spent watching a bad movie.
Instead of fighting, though, if it’s important to get somewhere early, he picks the time we leave, and I try not to miss that window by more than 5 minutes. And in exchange he doesn’t insist on getting to places – except the airport or work – painfully, boringly, tediously early.
Your guy is being a jerk. And even though you may be a wee bit incompatible, long term, if neither of you are willing to compromise or occasionally do it the other person’s way, it doesn’t change the fact that, mostly, your guy is being a gigantic jerk.
I was the husband in this situation. Ever since I have known my wife (since before she became my wife) I have known that she is an early bird. I was raised (unintentionally, I think) to arrive at the time of event or even a bit later (5 mins max?). When we follow my wife’s schedule, we always arrive 15-20 mins early. After a while, I noticed that it was way more relaxing to do this, instead of trying to cut it to the minute. Finding parking is easier, many times we end up at the front of the line (which hasn’t formed yet because we are so early), and we are generally in better moods. Sometimes I forget and I say, “let’s not leave yet,” and she starts to freak out. I notice it, but no one else would – I have learned to spot it. And then I remember, “it’s no skin off my back if we get there early”. And I understand that it makes her more comfortable to be early – much more comfortable than I am with being there “at the specific start time.”
LW’s husband need to learn on his own what it means to his wife to arrive at her desired time. He needs to recognize that he’s the last person on earth that should be causing his partner grief, especially over something like being on time vs. being early. He needs to take a step back and see the bigger picture. No one can force him to do this, but perhaps if he saw others do it he might see the light.
I wish nothing but the best for you LW.
My husband also likes arriving early, and on occasion it has led to standing around for half an hour twiddling our thumbs in a big empty room.
Funny thing, when we moved from a city of over 1 million to a city of about 250k, we were too early all the time. It took about a year to stop leaving the house in time for a 30 minute drive instead of a 15 minute drive.
I recently observed that even when the movie theater is literally five minutes from my house on foot my brain still insists it will take half an hour to get there. *facepalm*
See if he transfers his controlling behavior to other aspects of your life when this outlet is removed.
LW, I think this is the single most important piece of the Captain’s advice. I’m very suspicious that your husband enjoys making you miserable, but if that’s not the case and he just has some hangup around departure times that he doesn’t want to talk about like a grownup, the Captain’s suggested experiment will show you that.
And maybe I’m the problem here – so if I just need to do more flying by the seat of my pants, do feel free to tell me.
Oh my fuck no you are not the problem here! Wanting to give yourself 45 minutes for a 35 minute drive like in your example is completely and utterly normal and reasonable. I know a ton of other commentors have already said that but it can’t hurt to really drive home the point that asking for an extra 10 minutes of buffer time is COMPLETELY REASONABLE. If you wanted to give yourself an extra hour of buffer time then yes, that would be excessive and I’d tell you that you need to work on that. But 10 minutes?! 10 minutes is such a non-issue that I can’t think of any reason your husband would waste his time and yours fighting about it other than he just takes pleasure in stressing you out.
This sounds like its about not just the time issue but other stuff. I had a BF that would pick fights over things that I thought were ridiculous, and what should have been a mild disagreement over something turned into 3 hour tirades of how kwallio couldn’t manage her feelings. In this guys case he was completely unable to deal with a GF who was in the slightest bit upset/angry at something, even if it wasn’t him. You bet that was a problem! You have been completely agreeable and reasonable and have had all of your proposed solutions turned down. Now what? For your own sanity I would at the bare minimum cease including your husband in plans. If you think couples counseling would help, maybe give it a try. I think going to therapy on your own would be a good idea, even if its to have your own version of reality validated.
“I am exhausted. I have said I could just leave earlier and he could depart when he feels the time is right, but that does defeat the purpose in going together as a couple, and he didn’t like that anyway.”
LW, do *you* like that? That’s a big question.
I disagree with the Captain slightly in that I think there is a chance that it could just be an innate incompatibility that spiraled into a power struggle, which I think can happen even in healthy relationships between decent people. Here’s an alternate suggestion. Get a coin. When you plan each event, flip it. Heads you do it his way. Tails you do it your way. You could even roll a die and say 1 or 2, your timing, 3 or 4, his timing, 5 or 6, you leave separately.
“We fundamentally disagree on this. We can’t change that, but we can stop the arguments. Can you handle doing it my way half the time if I handle doing it your way half the time? If so, I’ll be supportive when we do it your way if you’ll be supportive when we do it my way.”
It can’t be more fair. The trick is, enforce it. The moment he complains or is “late” on one of your nights, stop it altogether and go with the Captain’s method.
So, LW, your husband is really, really determined to waste a whole lot of your life and your life energy on pure fuckery on his part. The goal here is clearly for him to screw with you to the point of you being perpetually exhausted by it, and it’s working.
Which pretty much means one thing and one thing only in my experience — if you stop being perpetually exhausted by constant fuckery, you’ll have the mental energy to start putting two and two together about something else, and that something else is something he really, really does not want you seeing and thinking clearly on, hence the relentless mindfuckery.
It might be an affair. It might be massive financial sabotage/theft. It might be any number of things. It might simply be that if you had time to stop and think clearly, he’s sure you’d realize he has a crappy personality and being married to him sucks and is a waste of life. But whatever it is, the reason he spends so much time and energy on his chosen mindfuck tactic is because it’s his smokescreen for what he really wants to hide.
So take the Captain’s advice to get yourself a break from it. When you’re a few weeks into that break, start considering what it is that he’s so sure he needs to keep you from seeing clearly.
I’m not going to jump right to DTMFA. Maybe this issue really is the only one he’s a jerk about.
In any case, even if you don’t like the idea of going to places separately, it seems like the lesser of evils. If it works, great. If he starts being a jerk about THAT, or other things, then you can reassess.
Have you ever read this short story by Roald Dahl? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Way_Up_to_Heaven
This just…made me think of it. I’m not advocating trapping your husband in an elevator, but…leaving without him a time or two might at least at least help change his assumptions from “If I make a big fuss about what time we leave, I get (whatever it is he wants out of this situation)” to “If I make a big fuss about what time we leave, I get left behind.”
…oops, been done, sorry.
There seems to be an assumption here that LW’s way of doing things is ‘right’ and LW’s husband’s way of doing things is ‘wrong’ and that he is the one who has to change. Why is that?
Because he is making it a giant argument & hassle whenever the Letter Writer plans things, even though the Letter Writer goes along with his timing when he plans things. It’s not about “when is the best time to leave” (I don’t really care about deciding that question), it’s about “why does he create a bunch of tension any time the Letter Writer plans an outing?”
As a person married to someone who suffers from anxiety and deals it this by allowing what sometimes seems like an incredible amount of time to go places, I know that this in itself can be a cause of tension. I have chosen to deal with this by accepting that that’s the way things are but I think it’s important to recognise that this behaviour can cause stress in the other direction.
Sure, but this Letter Writer is talking about a buffer of 10 minutes.
Absolutely, but if that’s what is going on, he could say so. If it were the case, then he could express that getting somewhere as early as the LW likes stresses him, and they could compromise, which might mean going separately. But since he doesn’t say it, he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt on that front, because forcing the LW to admit that she is stressed by things and plead for mercy while getting to come across as the rational cool one isn’t cool, whether you’re doing it because you’re 100% an arse, or 50% suffering from stress yourself and 50% an arse.
“Absolutely, but if that’s what is going on, he could say so.”
Yes! Because he is DEMANDING that our Letter Writer say so. Why shouldn’t HE be explicit about whatever emotional urge is driving him to argue with her over this?
Yes, this “I am the embodiment of ultimate rationality, wielder of the key of the correct time to go places, and you must justify your transgressions to me” stance is what’s really infuriating here. If he would just admit that leaving early just bugs him, this would be a non-issue.
That’s like saying it’s causing anxiety to pay bills on time/slightly early. If it stresses hubs to be on time/10 mins early, that’s problematic, not ‘both ways’ fairness.
As a person whose FIL has a huuuuuuuuuge amount of anxiety over arriving places early, and who is more the type to arrive just on time, I understand how annoying it can be to always have to be ready to leave [what seems to me] unreasonably early. But that stress doesn’t entitle you to become belligerent.
I think the biggest concern here is that Husband is trying to get LW to justify her behavior over and over. Implying she’s the unreasonable one. Like he will be able to ‘logic’ her want to arrive earlier away.
—-Yeah, that’ll work. ‘Cause I’m sure there’s absolutely NO REASON that he has such an aversion to arriving places early. For example, in my own case, I’m sure my preference for getting to social events juuuust on time has absolutely *nothing* to do with social awkwardness and anxiety.
Not at all.
The thing is, the LW is taking about times that are under ten minutes. They are talking about arriving what many people would consider “on time” (i.e. with enough time to use the loo, find seats, a small buffer for traffic).
I say this completely sincerely: if a person has anxiety such that they can’t wait for ten minutes, I have sympathy. Anxiety sucks. But when someone else’s anxiety means that someone else’s reasonable needs can’t be met, it’s on the person with anxiety to at least help to find a solution. Wait in the car! Go for a walk round the block! Bring a book and read it on the loo!
But anyway, the point is moot because I don’t think that this is about that. That’s why taking separate cars is not an acceptable solution to the LW’s partner. It’s about being “right”. Now maybe, he needs to be “right” because if he’s “right” then he doesn’t have anxiety! Nope! Nothing to see here! Being slightly late for everything is just the One True Way To Be! But Occam’s razor says it’s a lot more likely that he’s just being a bit of a jerk (at least about this).
Because he’s the one who’s insisting he can’t flipping remember things his wife has already explained to him multiple times and maintaining that she just *has* to repeat herself for *his* flipping convenience (while making sure that he can’t *possibly* get his ass out the door ten minutes early for hers).
Because “we are going to argue your choices to death every single time; mine up for discussion” is shit behavior.
It’s not that his timing preferences are objectively wrong, it’s that he’s treating her wrong. It’s not really even about the leaving times at all, it’s about the way he treats her. The time buffer MATTERS to the LW, and her so-called partner insists on having hour-long arguments about why she’s wrong and it shouldn’t matter to her. He’s dragging her through the mud repeatedly just to get his way on a minor issue.
Most of the posters here are not assuming that LW’s way is right and husband’s way is wrong. Husband, on the other hand, is assuming that his way is right and LW’s way is wrong. Your criticism is pointing in exactly the wrong direction.
I’d be so tempted to turn the tables on him by scowling and sniping about how we’re going to be late now, well done, I told you there’d be traffic, I told you we had to leave early, you never listen etc. but that’s just creating more problems.
LW your husband is behaving like a shit. I’m inclined to wonder, as the Captain does, if he just doesn’t like leaving the house at all.
I was with That Guy. We almost missed a transcontinental flight once because we left way too late, and because our luggage couldn’t be checked in any more, we needed to throw away almost all of our things that didn’t fit into the carry-on bags, including souvenirs, within a couple of minutes. We caught the flight last second, by sheer luck. It was horrible.
He didn’t even apologize, and I broke up with him shortly after returning home. The whole ordeal gave me massive travel anxiety for a couple of years. I’m still not really over it and flight times/holiday schedules always make me really, really nervous, but my boyfriend is a super understanding person (although he personally likes leaving last-minute) and we’ve never missed a plane or train 🙂 It’s such a relief to be with a reasonable guy who fully understands how horrible this experience was for me.
Reading the LW’s story made my blood boil in sympathy! 🙂
I think the husband expects the LW to completely submit to him without question because she is his wife, and that is his way of putting her in her place.
It’s also a way of establishing that her needs are not important unless he accepts them as such.
I was you five, no ten, no 12 years ago. At first, when we were dating I was being Super Cool (I wish I had a Captain Awkward then!) and it lead to a collection of funny stories of being late to various weddings of his friends. Then we had a family and convinced myself he had the potential to change because he occasionally expressed knowledge what was happening was not good. Towards the end entire shows, planes, parties had been missed, and the behavior of diligently not working towards a compromise had spread to dinner, driving, and picking up the kids.
In the end it wasn’t about being late, it was about not working towards one solution (ANY solution pls!) which grew into not working towards a solution for many other problems.
I wonder why this letter makes me so angry. It’s like a woman’s opinion is never valid unless a man agrees to give it a seal of approval on a case by case basis. It just feels humilitating to have to explain yourself over every little detail. I’ve had this experience A LOT. It was mostly my father but my husband too and I think it’s made it pretty much impossible for me to know what I want as I’ve been told so many times it doesn’t matter and why should I feel what I feel etc. It’s exhausting. LW, I have no advice, but you’re not the problem. Your husband is. If you do manage to get anywhere with this maybe let us know? The only thing that worked for me was being highly unpleasant to the man doing it to the point of him deciding it’s less hassle to leave me alone to my “incorrect” needs and feelings – but it’s not something you can do with your spouse.
I think it absolutely is gendered – some men believe that they are the Boss of the relationship and therefore, what they decide is the default. That’s why it’s the LW who has to convince husband to do things her way, why doing things his way is not questioned – it’s simply the default.
She? If she wants this done her way, she has to put out this whole long complicated case like in front of a court or a king and if he is not convinced then that’s a no-go, even though he never convinced her his way is cool.
Yeah, your comment made me realize it’s absolutely connected to gender dynamics. I don’t want to question her own judgment because that’s exactly what this asshole it doing, but still I must wonder – is he rally any different in other areas of life, or is it just that it does not bother her as much so she goes with it or even things this is normal and does not question it, already groomed by him into compliance.
My father took this to the extreme of constantly granting women permission to do things. In my experience, he started doing that pretty suddenly. Anything you happened to mention you were doing, if you were female, he would interrupt to hem and haw a bit, and then ponderously say, “Hmm, yes, well, okay, you can do that.”
So I stopped telling him anything I was doing.
He didn’t like that. He’d try asking me questions, but I wouldn’t play:
“What classes are you taking this semester?”
“Oh, classes,” I’d say vaguely.
“Are you still working? At that tutoring center?”
“Oh, I work.”
Drove him nuts. I did try, before that, talking to him about his obnoxious behavior. I tried correcting it in the moment — “No, I’m not asking your permission; I’m telling you what I’m doing.”
He’d respond, “Hmm, yes, well, okay, you can do that.”
I tried having a separate conversation about how this behavior was rude and I didn’t like it. He responded with, “Hmm, yes, well, okay, you can do that! You can talk to me about that!”
So I stopped telling him anything.
After a few years, he asked me why I wouldn’t tell him anything about my life anymore. I said he knew why, because I’d raised the issue with him. He pretended ignorance. I described the rude giving-his-permission schtick. He wailed that he would have stopped if I’d just taaaaaaaalked to him about it. I said I had, and his behavior hadn’t changed, so clearly he was unable to cope with having that kind of information about my life.
He was pretty taken aback by that framing, that I was simply not giving him information he clearly couldn’t cope with.
So I tried testing to see if he’d gotten it by letting him know a few things about my life. He kept a lid on the give-permission thing, but it was clearly a struggle. I, naively, was happy at his improved behavior and was willing to tell him ordinary things about my life again.
Big mistake. Huge.
His revenge was to corner every last relative he could every time he could to lie at great length and in considerable detail about how every last thing he knew of that was going on in my life was at his direction, and he’s been doing that ever since. The staggering tapestry of lies is vast beyond all imagining. He corners both relatives and friends of his at every opportunity to discourse about how he has to manage every decision for me, and he makes up back stories in bizarre detail, so that things I’ve done that he didn’t know about until years afterward become, in his narrative, things that he decided I should do after I “came to him” not having the faintest idea how to live my life and begging him to direct me, so he’d agreed and “looked around” and decided I should do X (when there was no way he’d ever even heard of X), and then he’d talk about my gratitude for his deciding this for me and drone on about how he then oversaw every last bit of my doing X because of course, that’s what it takes…
So now I don’t speak to him at all. I haven’t for years.
And I still hear amusing stories about how he runs around telling everyone he can that he’s managing my life for me and doing what I tell him. Only he doesn’t know where I live or where I work, so the lies are pretty funny.
I don’t have much respect for the people who believed his lies about me all along — and he has a number of friends who did. I didn’t realize this for the longest time, because I had almost no contact with those friends. But when I did deal with them, I was puzzled at first why they acted so strangely towards me. Eventually I found out the scope and scale of his lying campaign, and I have pretty immovable contempt for those who believed all that, because the bigotry at the core of it was obvious.
Oh well. It leaves me in an amusing position now, when anyone wants to get whiny at me about not talking to him — I just say when I get detailed emails from his friends stating he has retracted all the lies (and listing them exhaustively), I’ll consider talking to him again.
The big lesson I’ve learned is that as extreme as he sounds, he’s not remotely unique in this kind of behavior. A staggering number of parents of adult children do pretty much the exact same thing. I don’t believe stories of this sort, without proof, when I hear parents of adult children telling them.
It’s all about the power dynamics.
I have a friend with a father like this; he does it so he can hit her up for money and so she will drop everything and wait on him whenever. I think it is hard for her to break a pattern she was raised in yet you have done it and it is awesome to hear this actually.
My older sister does a sort of similar thing: I tell her about a decision I’ve made, she acts like I’m asking her advice and says, “Oh, that’s a terrible idea, you should do X instead.”
I say, “No, I appreciate your point of view but I’ve decided to do Y.”
Time passes, I go off and do Y as originally planned. She finds out I’ve done Y.
“Why did you do Y? I thought we decided you were doing X.”
Wow, that story is amazing. Sorry things got so shitty.
I mean, yeah, but I’m kind of confused about where it says the LW’s pronouns personally?
*pronouns and gender. Pronouns do not make gender.
My ex didn’t believe a word I said until I backed it up in triplicate. One day when we were in the garden, we disturbed a hornets’ nest and when I realized, I dropped everything, screamed, “Hornets” and ran. He didn’t. When I turned around, the “silly woman” look of contempt was on his face and then the first one got him. Then he ran. Next he was wailing that I didn’t tell him properly. Haha.
Sorry – but this is so funny! You didn’t tell him properly, poor guy 😀 Good point though, it’s about contempt, like you’re not worth treating seriously. Anything that comes out of your mouth needs to be disregarded.
How does the guy justify being with a person he considers so much below him though? How can he even think he loves her etc.?
“When I turned around, the “silly woman” look of contempt was on his face and then the first one got him”
Omg reading this was ridiculously satisfying 😀
And funny how it was your job to notice them and warn him.
I think we may have dated the same guy. He moved to my hometown for college and would ask me the best way to get somewhere, then overrule me based on literally just his own uninformed guessing.
The only thing I’ve found to work is to call it the fuck out and refuse to go along. But that makes for a pretty aggressive dynamic and it absolutely isn’t for everyone.
I have to admit, punctuality isn’t something my family is known for. It drove my sister’s ex nuts – he’d make pointed remarks about us arriving in “SmithFamilyTime”. We’re all a bit ADHD and terribly disorganized.
BUT – it wouldn’t occur to even the most time fluid of us (oldest brother – I’m looking at you) to endlessly argue about it. LW says her husband doesn’t like it if she leaves seperately. Well, since he disregards what she likes (arriving on time), she can blithely disregard his likes and smile sweetly as she waves goodbye, walking out the door. No argument, no engagement, just ignoring his attempts to draw her into yet another fight as she goes about her plans without him.
Since you leaving separately won’t strand him without a way to get to a place, I think I’d go with Cap’s old standby of “make it boring” if there is something y’all have to go to this month.
“The show is at 8, so let’s leave at 7:15.”
“That’s too early. We don’t need to leave until 7:45.”
“Ok, but I’m going to leave at 7:15.”
“We should go as a couple!”
“Cool. I’m going to leave at 7:15.”
“Ok. I’m going to leave at 7:15.”
“That’s fine. I’m going to leave at 7:15.”
And then at 7:15…you leave. And either he’s ready and he comes with you, or he’s not and he goes on his own. Or not at all. Give yourself permission not to care if he comes or not, and to have a good time regardless.
Yeah, this would be my approach to this to. You can either come with me at 7:15 or leave at whenever you feel like and meet me there.
Adding my voice to everyone who says: This is not okay! This is SO NOT OKAY!
LW, you’ve been married for years and your husband is still making you stand up and explain why you would like to leave a little bit early to catch your bearings and maybe go to the toilet. As in, he is grilling you for hours, effectively shaming you, for your preferences and your own body’s needs. By now he ought to know exactly what you would say, and the only way to interpret his refusal to stop is that he wants to keep on doing it.
You are his partner. Your comfort should not be up for negotiation, and it should not be a point of argument every time you go out. He’s had a million chances to figure out better ways of doing this but instead of proposing solutions he MAKES YOU DO ALL THE WORK AND THEN FINDS PROBLEMS WITH IT. Even now, you’re asking the Captain for the magic words that will make him see sense except even if there were magic words, I bet he would find a loophole to start a fight.
I’m linking to a post by Chump Lady, not necessarily because I think you should file for divorce, but because there is a strategy there that might help you to disengage and implement the Captain’s strategies: It doesn’t matter whether he is an otherwise lovely person or not. His behaviour is hurting you right now. You can decide on his merits once you are (emotionally) free of this stressor (by that I mean the fighting over leaving time) (source: https://www.chumplady.com/2018/03/hes-really-nice-guy/)
LW, you are bending over backwards to be fair and he’s not doing a damn thing to change his behaviour. This thing is causing you distress and money. Take away his centrality and focus on yourself. If he finds new ways of badgering you into doing emotional labour that puts him in the middle of the drama? Then that’s important information too.
“Your comfort should not be up for negotiation…” Thank you for this. That statement, and this whole thread, has given me a lot of perspective on my former marriage.
The question to ask here is: is this really about time management? I mean, it’s clearly about power vis-a-vis time management, but is the power struggle limited to that issue only? I doubt it. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t time for a marriage counselor.
Mr. Me, last night: The opera starts at 7:30. Leave at 6:30?
Me: How about 6:15? We’ll need extra time for coat check and stuff.
Mr. Me: Ok.
[we leave at about 6:20][we get to the opera house at 7:00]
Mr. Me: I’m glad we said “leave at 6:15”.
That’s it. That’s how it should go. That’s what a departure time negotiation looks like when both people are reasonable and care more about having a good time than being right. LW, you are participating in a reality where the important thing is having a nice time and mutually pleasant experience. Your hubs is not. I’m sorry. There are no new scripts for you because you’re already using the scripts. The problem isn’t the words you’ve tried, the problem is that your husband doesn’t want to have a reasonable negotiation where the most important thing is having a pleasant time together.
I am a VERY EARLY arriver. It strains the limits of my friends and family. I like to get places with plenty of time to settle in. Over the years, I’ve seen the merits of occasionally relaxing a little but ultimately I like to give myself plenty of time. I get to the airport 2 hours early. I am that person.
Even the least understanding of my friends and family have never even come CLOSE to browbeating me about this the way your husband is doing, LW. They’re, max, a little wry and teasing and mostly indulgent of my desire to be early so long as they can opt in and out as needed. At the very least, there’d be no argument if I wanted to head out early on my own.
I say that mostly so you know that this is not a normal amount of argument around anything, even when two people are very far apart on their timeliness norms. Perhaps ESPECIALLY around something so small.
I can only recall one – ONE – person who ever brought me to the point of tears and anxiety over this, and that person was my abusive ex who took every opportunity to assert control, make me feel that my feelings weren’t valid, humiliate me when I tried to make reasonable arguments about my own comfort, etc. I’m not saying your husband will necessarily become abusive, LW, but I do not think responding to your needs with such contempt and intensity is a great indicator that he’s valuing your comfort and needs over his desire to be “right.”
I know people recommend Why Does He Do That? BY Lundy Bancroft a lot, and while I hear and respect the criticisms of that book I do think you’d benefit from reading the section of that book about “Mr. Right” (I’ve seen it reproduced online in excerpt plenty of places, but the book is well worth finding at your library). If any of that rings true to you, you might consider seeing a therapist on your own to discuss these dynamics in your marriage and get some perspective on what that means for you. I don’t have high hopes about couples’ counseling with someone who’s so apt to argue with you so heatedly and for so long over small things, and I’m not optimistic that he won’t punish you later for being honest about your needs if a therapist were to take your side.
I had a similar situation. My fiance is horrific about mornings. And prefers to be “right on time” vs early. Where as if I’m not early I’m late. I have medication for how bad my anxiety can get.
I bring this up because one sit down conversation about “I need to be early [list of reasons – some of which aren’t even logical because yay anxiety brain]” was all it took. We may never actually make it out of the house “on time” when heading out to work, but we’ve both got very flexible jobs and schedules so there’s not really an “on time” time. We are, however, consistently early to movies, reservations, and the airport. Even early by my standards sometimes. He just brings a book or hand held video game device to give him something to do. ^_^ Problem solved (He’s 40 – if age matters, and I’m just a touch younger).
That’s how decent humans operate, and my heart goes out to OP.
I hear LW when they say he’s not trying to be mean, it’s just the insomnia. But here is this. I’ve had chronic insomnia since I was about a year old. Medications haven’t helped. The thought of having to get up early makes me want to actually cry. I feel legitimate physical symptoms when I’m up early, like I’m floating away, my eyes hurting, or waves of nausea. I am also chronically late. I am late to everything.
However. As a person who is exhausted constantly, I gotta say, the thought of having an hour-long argument over what time to leave is completely ludicrous to me. Having a ten-minute argument about this is beyond my comprehension. That’s even more exhausting than just getting up and being ready at the time. Like! That’s so frustrating! Like I feel like I can’t overstate how not-normal this is!
I’m so glad your husband isn’t usually a dickhead, LW, because these arguments are completely bananas and really mean. Why would you want to put someone you love on trial about wanting to leave early? Lots of people leave for things early. For real, what if you have to pee when you get there? What if your left taillight is out and you get pulled over by a cop approaching their quota? What if someone gets into an accident in front of you and you have to stop and be a witness? I personally don’t leave for things early because I’m a trash can and am punctual for date night and job interviews and nothing else, but it’s a hundred percent normal and reasonable for someone to want to leave early!
I’m putting myself in your shoes and imagining what I would do if my husband started kvetching about leaving at a time.
– Staring in silence instead of engaging and presenting exhibit A. I’m not a litigator. Bonus points if your face betrays how entirely irrational this argument is. Look at him like he’s growing a second face.
– “Can you please stop picking fights with me about this? It makes me feel like you think I’m stupid. I want to leave at 7. This is a reasonable request.”
– “We’re gonna get sucked into the sky on the way there and I’m budgeting for how long it’ll take to get back onto the ground. Okay? Anyway, I’ll see you on my way out the door at 7.”
– “It’s a long drive, so we’re gonna get out and walk around for a few minutes in the middle. I know how cramped it makes you feel sitting in the car for a long time.”
– “Hey dude, you don’t have to come.”
– Or, honestly? Get visibly upset when he starts up the diatribe. You know how we teach babies not to hit by saying “Ouch! That hurt me!” when they hit? I don’t mean to compare your husband to a baby, but he’s being a baby about leaving at 7. Sometimes you get so entrenched in your own perspective that it doesn’t occur to you you’re upsetting people. He loves you. He needs to know he’s attacking you.
My wife’s issue isn’t leaving at a time, it’s that we disagree about when milk goes bad. “It’s good for two weeks after the sell-by date!” It’s good until literally the day before the expiration date. I am viscerally yucked out by the concept of bad milk and I am Throwing It Out.
I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world and I hope things work out.
Unfortunately, the husband sounds like he’d get off on the LW getting upset.
Nobody’s mentioned this, and I’m far too late to the party, but what is his approach to his insomnia?
I am an irregular sufferer from insomnia and I know how hard it is to deal with, so I’m not simply saying “why doesn’t he fix this?” But I wonder what his attitude is to trying to deal with his insomnia, and whether examining this will give you any insight, LW.
As the less-organised half of my own marriage. I’ve grown better at having my day planned in advance, over time, but there are still times when I have to say, look, I’m sorry, I need some time to be disorganised for my own mental health, so, no, I am not going to plan what I am going to do this Saturday, sorry. We can plan Sunday if you want.
It’s reasonable that couples can disagree on this stuff, and I do think that sometimes when you’re the less disorganised half, it’s hard to explain why too much organisation troubles you, even when it really, really can. So I sympathise with the husband to some extent.
With that said, I do think it’s a problem if he needs you to explain, every time, why it is that you care about having a few minutes’ grace time. I don’t see why one explanation wouldn’t be sufficient, and it seems like this could feel really invalidating, from your perspective — as if “I personally am not comfortable worrying the whole way there about whether I am going to be late” was something that needed repetition in order to make sense.
Both you and your husband have valid wants here, even though they are not compatible. I hope you can find a compromise that respects you both.
The requirement that the LW keep explaining themself is what I keep getting stuck on, too. It’s one thing to say, for instance, “Okay, I’m going to try to change my behavior on this, but I might need reminders for a while that not having extra time stresses you out.” But this doesn’t sound like that.
At the end of this most recent discussion, he asked me to explain to him every time that this leaving time is important to me and it will stress me if I don’t leave at this particular time.
This is a problem. This is him treating your desire to make it to the movie/airport/party at X time like you’re defending your doctoral dissertation. And not only is he demanding you convince the committee (him) of the validity of your argument, he’s requiring you to re-explain your position whenever it suits him.
This is a BIG problem.
Not to mention explaining how stressful thing is likely increases LW’s stress level.
Exactly. Doctoral defenses happen once per degree and you know in advance when they’re happening. He’s requiring them whenever he’s in the mood to be argumentative.
I have to confess that I would be sore tempted to simply print out form letters and give him one whenever he asked what time we were leaving and why did it have to be so early. I mean, he did ask to be reminded of the exact same information every time, you know?
A different reading is that he might benefit each time from a reminder. If he’s having trouble getting out of insomnia brain fog (?), irritability, and self-centeredness, a reminder that this matters deeply to LW could help him adjust and make a better decision in the moment. At least, he proposed that as a potential solution, and if LW doesn’t feel it is part of a manipulation or control tactic, it may help to try it.
(Explaining each time is too much, but reminding, or even pointing to a reminder sign or symbol or something, is within the realm of reasonable. The exact nature of his problem isn’t clear to me, and so something that supports him in remembering to change his behavior may be appropriate.)
Beyond that, I agree with the advice to cut down on situations where this comes up for the next month. Good luck!
I have insomnia too. If i want more sleep I just spend those insomnia hours laying out an outfit, get ready faster and have the other person drive me if I need a nap in the car. I can’t imagine holding up the whole world with my insomnia. I never even thought to use that as an excuse. Definitely an exhausting issue. I’m with them, just leave when you want to leave and take two cars. If the issue is what time to leave, he’ll have to get used to it and problem is solved. If the issue is not actually that, I’m sure this will uncover the real problems.
My husband hates ketchup. Not just the taste of it, but the smell, and the very concept of it. When he realized bbq sauce is incredibly similar to ketchup (and actually sometimes uses it as a base) he stopped eating tomato bbq sauce and switched to only eating vinegar and mustard based bbq sauce.
What does this have to do with the LW’s situation?
Because when I eat something with ketchup I make a point of rinsing my plate off right away instead of letting it sit and give off it’s ketchup stench. I also make a point of offering a bite of my food at restaurants before I throw condiments on, keeping an eye out for Carolina style bbq sauce when it’s my turn to grocery shop, and warn him when he’s about to go in for a kiss after I’ve just eaten something with ketchup on it.
Do I think it’s a little bit crazy and unnecessary? Yes. Do I tease him about? Of course I do. But I do it any way because I don’t like seeing him unhappy and upset, and all it takes is a few seconds of effort on my part. Plus I know he does similar things for a lot of my personality quirks and preferences (which are of course all very normal and logical).
And that’s the thing about the LW’s situation that is driving me absolutely bonkers, because all it would take for them to not be miserable or upset would be for their husband to leave the house a few minutes early. That’s it. He doesn’t have to agree with LW’s assessment about what the proper time is to leave, all he has to do is just give up a few minutes of his time, and maybe have to entertain himself for a few minutes if the end up arriving early.
In the grand total of things you have to adapt or change when in a long term relationship with someone that’s nothing. Hell most of us probably have platonic or even professional relationships that require more thought or effort on our part. Yet this schmuck is completely and totally unwilling to even entertain the possibility of this very simple request. That’s insane and LW shouldn’t have to deal with it.
My husband and our vet dated when they were teenagers. He once said “god damn it” in her presence and she told him not to say that in her presence. As he recently told me, “Rather than making a thing of it, and asking her what was bad about it, I just didn’t say it.” As a result, they are still friends today, rather than him being the difficult boy she dated.
Your husband is a very wise man. Also, why is being accommodating on small things something that people don’t get?
Yes, I got lucky with this one. I have a few posts about my ex in this thread, and he was very different about these things.
LW, if you have commitments in the Captain’s recommended month that you both need to attend, may I recommend having a set time to leave and sticking to it? Like so:
“Husband, I’m leaving at 7:15. If you would like to go with me, great! Be ready to go at 7:15. If not, I’ll go ahead and see you there.”
Then STICK TO IT. If it’s 7:15, walk out the door. Don’t let him “I’ll be there in just a minute.” Don’t argue with him. Broken record it if you need to: “Well, I’m leaving at 7:15.”
“That’s great, but I’m leaving at 7:15.”
“You can choose to leave with me at 7:15 or go separately later. Either is fine with me!”
He can refuse to choose one of these options because he doesn’t like them, but you don’t have to humor his tantrums. Disengage, leave the room if you need to, don’t present it as a discussion or something you can be talked out of. These are the options. He can go with you at your set time, or not go with you. Period.
(I see now someone above said the same thing…sorry to be redundant!)
I’m a Get There at the Last Minute person while my mom, now in her early 70s and 30 years my senior, was a Run Late person at my age but has reformed and is now an Extremely Early person. For the first several years after my dad passed away, as we found ourselves traveling more often to events/trips as just the two of us, this was a source of head-butting. During that period, I came to realize that we were both acting out of anxiety: her overarching anxiety about not having my dad there to help her navigate the world, and my anxiety about having to renavigate my relationship with her without my dad present. (In those first few years I’m talking stuff like wanting to be at the airport five hours early for a domestic flight, or spending an entire long weekend visit to NYC asking me, the millisecond we’d arrived at one destination during our day, how long it would take to get to the next destination. And on my side there were unnecessary, over-the-top reactions of embarrassment to things like being the first non-wedding party guests to arrive at an extended family wedding — another challenge is that Mom is a firm extrovert while I prefer when entering new or high-emotion situations to kinda just fade into the wallpaper and observe, which of course you can’t really pull off when no one else has arrived at the event yet, hah.)
What we both really needed was to just process that anxiety and let time and tolerance do their work. Now I roll out when Mom feels comfortable doing so, bring a book, look forward to people-watching, etc., and I can see that I benefit from arriving earlier and experiencing less stress. And the same time, I’ve noted that she is much less hung up on being what I would still classify as EXTREMELY early, because there is no anxious need driving that.
I see anxieties coming from both LW (traffic, needing time to pee) and her husband (lack of sleep, pain while sitting), and while I don’t minimize his jerkiness and the conversation absolutely needs to start with how the Death by a Thousand Cuts of Logic routine is not acceptable, I trust LW’s comment that we are not talking, overall, about a jerky person here. The next step after telling him to cut it out, and sticking to that (ie, leaving on your own if necessary, etc), seems to me to be to try to honestly talk through those anxieties, whether they have grown recently, and if there is some deeper stuff there.
Wow, poor LW. This stinks, and I am so sorry.
Now. My hubbie and I have been married for quite a while, and we have worked most of those annoying things out at this point, so it is probably really easy for me to say this….but my literal reaction after the second or third time of something like this happening…would be to let him know when the truck is leaving, and to get the fuck in it, or not. Then, I would leave – on my timeline. No further conversation if he had been yanking me around on something like this. I have the benefit of having my own vehicle, and….spoiler….am a bit of a control freak, so I generally drive anyway. Trust me, this works out best for both of us, and he gets to make other dominant choices in the relationship, since I am incredibly anal retentive about giving us enough time to get across our big city, and the fact that I blissfully drive everywhere. Your husband is very lucky he did not get dealt someone like me with this scenario. He would LOSE, and lose big.
Good luck working it out.
One thing I’ve learned from an abusive ex-the demand for justification was a tool to distract me from the fact that he got his way 100% of the time. If I was fighting so hard to explain my position and to get him to understand it, I completely forgot that the baseline in our relationship was ex gets exactly what he wants unless I could convince him otherwise. I focused on the convincing part (spoiler alert; it never worked) and forget about the ex gets exactly what he wants part.
Yep, this is definitely a distraction tactic. It worked with feelings too–I was always so focused on justifying WHY I should be allowed to feel [insert emotion here] that I never noticed how much HIS emotions were controlling the relationship.
He being my ex, obviously. I skipped some words.
The other effect is that it not only distracts you but wears you out. My husband will cross examine me until I’m so exhausted it’d be easier to throw my hands up and agree that really, I don’t NEED to visit my mom for my own mental health, or yes I should take on the work of setting up all the counseling before he’ll decide whether it’s worth it to go. It also provides plausible deniability, because it was still “your choice” in the end and he would never tell you what to do.
I gotta get out…Hopefully in the next few weeks.
May he soon be a wasband…
Wishing you strength.
Oh fuck that sounds *exhausting*! Good luck getting out and please come to the forums (http://friendsofcaptainawkward.com/forum/) for ongoing support if that’s a thing you would like.
I’ll bet he manages to get to work on time…
This is specifically a direction the Captain told us not to go on this thread, in part because it gets into endless arguments and in part because even if it’s true, it’s not useful as advice or a basis for negotiation within the relationship. (“You clearly care more about keeping your job than about being on time for the movies!!” “Well, yes.”)
I think a better comparison would be to say something like, I bet he doesn’t fight with his mother/his best friend/etc. about what time to go places.
Honestly, LW, I get the feeling from your letter that you want to make a reasonable compromise. But the problem isn’t conflicting legitimate needs or wants, or two people having an incompatibility or a miscommunication, or having brains that work in fundamentally different ways, or whatever–the problem is that your husband wants to be an utter jackass and will find ways to do so if given a single inch. There is no obligation to compromise with annoying jackasses. I would echo the advice to just leave when *you* want and refuse to play this game where you have to dance for his approval that will never be granted.
Is this guy a spy? Because then it might be hard to break the occupational practice of being exactly on time. But otherwise there’s literally no reason not to respect that you worry about being late for things and would rather maybe be a couple of minutes early.
The thing that keeps sticking to me re: this LW is that not only is the husband being ridiculously unreasonable about a thing that seems small, he’s being unreasonable more than most unreasonable people are! It takes a certain delight in having these fights about ‘small’ things that are in actuality enormous things that affect a huge number of daily and big things and then to insist on having this fight every single time you want to go anywhere or do anything!
I don’t know why, but I really hope the LW comes back with an update on how things worked out.
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