Dear Carolyn: "Jake" and I have a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. About a month out from our fifth wedding anniversary, I said to Jake we should get a sitter and go out. Logistically, having a sitter is difficult because of our remote location, and we often have to drive a distance to pick up/drop off, but I felt this was a worthy occasion. Jake said he had figured we wouldn't do anything since we had never done anything on our anniversary before, and had made plans for a golf outing with his work friends. Our anniversary date was the "only date" available for all of them.

This is something they do twice a year, an all-day affair. I've never begrudged him this, but I was seriously hurt by his not making an effort to ask before committing. In my opinion, he knew I might have an issue with it and agreed without telling me, hoping I wouldn't bring it up.

I don't understand why, if other people had conflicts, his had to be the one to go?

Anyway, the day came and he got up early and went. He apparently called a florist on the way out of town.

I was very upset all day, and considered taking the kids to a hotel for the night, but decided against it. Then to top it all off, he had the nerve to come home at 10 p.m. and complain that a couple of guys ruined it for various reasons. I had no sympathy.

I want to move on, but I'm having a hard time overcoming this, and I keep wanting to throw it in his face when we argue. I need suggestions on how to handle it, and for what I should have done when the issue first arose.

— Hurt

Hurt: Jake screwed up. That’s easy. You don’t book any all-day friend parties without first running them by your spouse and little-kid co-parent, much less on your anniversary.

And complaining when he got home? If only tone-deafness could be bronzed and mounted.


Assuming I’ve read all the details correctly, Jake’s screw-up beyond the not-checking thing isn’t that he “seriously hurt” you either with negligence or intent but instead that he operated on a set of assumptions that you changed without telling him.

So he was, basically, too much of a doofus (and too invested in the day not mattering, as in past years) to piece together the various clues this was really important to you.

But that means you, for your part, just gave him clues instead of telling him outright this was really important to you.

I understand, you wanted him to want to be with you.

But also understand that the way he understood it — reasonably so — he would spend the days before and the days after with you as always, so what’s the big deal?

So there’s your answer to what you should have done, or need to do next time you want to be his top priority: Speak. Up. “It’s not okay with me that you made these plans without running it by me first. Yes, we’ve never celebrated our anniversary before, but this one matters to me. And even if it didn’t, it’s a courtesy for each of us to check with each other before making all-day plans.”

And, if he balked: “Why, if other people had conflicts, yours had to be the one to go?”

As for what you do now to move on: Find a reason to sympathize with what he did, admit to yourself what you did, grant that both of you were trying to act in good faith and simply fell short and then let go.

Something else to consider. Your story leaves room for the possibility that you discussed it a month out; didn’t say explicitly you were upset about the golf and wanted him to prioritize your anniversary; waited from that point till your anniversary, without saying anything more about it, to see if he would figure it out and change his plans; got to your anniversary and watched him leave for golf without telling him how upset you were; and nearly left him over it in a huff while he was gone.

If this is accurate, then, do you see the problem? Do you see how you basically set him up to fail you?

You let him run up steep, hidden charges unwittingly for a month before presenting him with the bill.

Whenever anything is this important to you, to the point that your love for or devotion to others is riding on it, it’s a profound disservice to keep it from them and hope they guess what you want.

Speak up. Let people know how you feel, especially when the feelings are bigger this time, for whatever reason, than they’ve been before under similar circumstances. Be transparent about the cost as soon as you know what it is.

Write to Carolyn Hax at Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at