Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: My husband is Mr. Decision, chop-chop, everything has to be decided quickly and with little fanfare. I move more slowly and am constantly being picked at and nagged to hurry up and make a darn decision already. A lot of times, I feel pushed into making decisions and end up regretting the end result. So how do we find a happy medium, because it seems to drive both of us nuts?
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DEAR TORTOISE: Does he recognize that he’s one way and you’re the other, as you recognize it? If so, then you have the foundation for an open-eyes compromise where he gives you some unpressured time to think and you agree for that time to be finite.
If he doesn’t recognize it as you do, or if he does and thinks it’s your job to change yourself to conform to his way, then it might be time to call in a marital referee.
Do couples not notice this while dating? If they do, they should perhaps consider not marrying in the first place.
DEAR ANONYMOUS: It’s so easy to judge this in hindsight, but, the thing is, a person’s sense of a deal-breaker changes over time. To Mr. Chop-Chop, Ms. Waffle might have seemed charming and easygoing, and Ms. Waffle might have found Mr. Chop-Chop to be so refreshingly sure and confident.
Repeat over X years, and they can both be so worn down by the nuisance of managing their different paces that they struggle to recall what that refreshing charm felt like.
This could be my husband and me, except I’m Ms. Chop-Chop. The crucial step for me was recognizing that the throat-choking fear I have with not knowing what will happen is the same thing he feels when asked to make a snap decision. Now, it works best for us if we divide responsibilities so I am in charge of nebulous tasks (carpet cleaning, car maintenance, etc.) and he gets the ones with deadlines (taxes, Christmas presents, etc.).
– Anonymous 2
DEAR ANONYMOUS 2: I just love reading “it works,” brought about by mutual respect and effort. Thanks.
As one waffler married to another, all I can say is that one of us being a chop-chop decision-maker might have not been a bad thing.
— Anonymous 3
DEAR ANONYMOUS 3: Snort.
DEAR CAROLYN: How much venting among women about boyfriends/husbands is normal? I’m female, and between family members and girlfriends, it makes me think there is real value in staying single.
DEAR VENTING: The occasional consult is healthy, but constant “venting” suggests a chronic ailment in a relationship.
It may not spell doom, but it does mean it’s time for the venter to accept: (1) This is a problem; (2) The status quo obviously won’t solve it … (3) Nor will beaching about it to my friends, and (4) I’ve asked my partner endlessly for changes that clearly aren’t coming, so (5) It’s time to think of some productive way for me to put it to rest already, because (6) I am boring the guts out of every friend who loves me enough to have listened this long.
So, there’s real value in choosing a life partner who doesn’t leave you spluttering — and friends who don’t mistake complaints for conversation.