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Ask Lisi: Dad's extreme spontaneity frames mom as the 'bad guy'

His spur of the moment plans are fun, but … he doesn’t check dates against the shared calendar, doesn’t ask her first and doesn’t pay attention to cost

Dear Lisi: My husband is spontaneous but impetuous, and it causes problems in our family. Here’s a perfect example: My husband will be watching a football game on television with one of our eight-year-old twin boys, who will say something like, “Daddy, is it fun to actually go to a football game?”

My husband will jump up, go to his phone or computer and the next thing you know, he’s got tickets to a game in another state. Fun, but … He doesn’t check the dates against our shared calendar, doesn’t ask me first and doesn’t pay any attention to cost.

My son then comes running in to tell me, and I have to then ask my husband for details. An argument ensues because he’s paid a fortune for the tickets, they’re non-refundable and it’s the same weekend as one of the boy’s piano recitals or something equally important.

I say it can’t happen. He gets mad at me for putting a damper on his fun. The one child is mad at me for being the Bad Guy and “ruining everything.” The other child is upset because he feels Daddy doesn’t care about him.

Disaster. What can I do?

Chronic Spontaneity

That is a disaster! You need to talk to your husband. If this was a real example, I’d wait until the dust settles. Your husband is mad at you for pulling the plug on his fun. But I bet he’s mad at himself for not thinking things through. Though I doubt he’ll ever admit that.

Sit down with him at the beginning of each month, look at your shared calendar together and perhaps your budget. If this is who he is, and he can learn to make his spontaneous ideas affordable for your budget, it could lead to a fun life ahead.

Talk it through with him; come up with some possible scenarios (though it sounds like your future will be full of surprises); then give him some grace. For example, say something like, “we can afford one of your crazy ideas the third week in March if you can keep it at this cost.”

If he’s willing, he may benefit from professional help.

Dear Lisi: My wife and I are at a crossroads. When we met, we were both fit and healthy and shared a love of the outdoors. We both enjoy hiking, travel, beach activities and mountain biking. I was more of a gym-goer; she was a runner, biker and swimmer.

We both felt very trapped during COVID-19, and did our best to get out in the fresh air. But my gym attendance stopped completely as did our travel. Now that the world is much more “normal” where we live, I just can’t get back into the gym thing.

But my wife has gone full on, training for a triathlon, running, biking and swimming for hours and hours every chance she gets. In fact, I think she’s working less and training more.

We don’t have kids, but we do have two dogs who we both love and share in their care. Lately, I’ve been doing more of the caring. And I’m finding myself more and more alone. I’m happy for her to have a goal, to stay healthy. But I think she’s gone too far. Our relationship is taking a back seat.

How do I talk to her about this?


I have some experience with these types of athletes so this isn’t out of left field. I suggest getting her something she needs for her training/race and make her a carb heavy dinner on a night before a day when you know she’ll be training.

This will show her that you understand her needs, her path and that you love and care about her. Then discuss her plans. Is she going to continue training? Or is this a one-off? Then work out a schedule with her in which you clearly “allow” for training time but insert dog time and relationship time.

Explain to her how you feel, and work together.

Good luck to both of you.

FEEDBACK regarding the mom upset with the parents of her daughter’s boyfriend (Jan. 13):

Reader – “Perhaps you could have mentioned that in Ontario, a 16-year-old has the legal right to leave home and withdraw from parental control. Once the young person has left home, the parent’s custody rights are immediately terminated.”

Lisi – I could have mentioned that. But it didn’t sound as though the letter writer’s issues were leading down such a drastic path. I hope for their sake they work it all out before such dramatic steps are taken.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: or

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