Bought the Wii – Now To Tell The Wife

Dear Annie,

I need some advice. I just purchased a Wii® for my kids even though I know my wife is going to be upset because money is tight right now.

I promised the kids months ago that if they behaved I would buy them one. I feel I let my kids down because I did not follow through. So I finally purchased the Wii® this weekend and have it hidden. How would you suggest I communicate with my wife what I have done? Signed - How To Tell My Wife
Dear How To Tell My Wife,
First let me ask you a few questions: Do you almost never do this kind of thing? Or is this usually how you deal with conflict in your marriage? If this kind of decision is not typical - then you have some money in your relationship bank account and can make a withdrawal: explain that it was important to you to keep your word to your kids, that you are sorry that you didn't talk about it first, and that in this case - you made the call (having a decent track record on making good calls helps too). If, on the other hand this is your usual way of getting your way - then you really do have insufficient funds. So you might want to rethink it.

In making the purchase, you told your wife her concerns didn't matter enough. Bringing it up now, puts you in a position of having to either defend yourself or be dismissive of your wife. Not great choices. If you want to strengthen your relationship AND possibly keep and enjoy the Wii too, then here is my suggestion: First be honest and ask yourself: Does my wife has a point? If money is: can't pay the electric bill tight - then put the Wii back on your wish list. If scrimping somewhere else can make the Wii affordable then: explain what you did, explain your honest reasons - without too much defensiveness (admit it if even a small part of you wanted the Wii too),
acknowledge your wife's legitimate disappointment in being left out of the decision (anger often masks hurt),
and offer any creative ideas on how to pay for it without dismantling the family budget. Then - and here's the real hard part - genuinely offer to return it if the two of you can't agree that it is affordable right now.

If you and your wife agree that it can work - then problem solved AND your marriage feels better. If you can't agree - then by keeping your word and returning it - you choose WE over Wii and make a big investment in your marriage. Frankly, if you do return it - it is perfectly reasonable to explain to your kids that you are sorry, however the purchase is being postponed until the economy gets better.

Please note: WE means you both get to has a say in family decisions. Sometimes one partner can be so good at arguing and being dismissive of the other that the other resorts to behind-the-back maneuvers to have some power. However sometimes one partner feels like their mate is working against them - leaving them shouldering more of the responsibility for making the hard choices so they get resentful. The key here is to have each other's backs AND find ways to get what you each want or give something up graciously.

Share the load - respect each other - find win-win solutions - and if you do keep the Wii® have fun together. Hope that was helpful. Good luck. - Annie