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I like making plans whether they're short term or long term (> 6 months). Always have. My wife, however, tends to "forget" about plans we had already discussed and gets upset when I try to stay true to them.

We bought a fixer upper house 2 years ago and made plans for improving it. I created sketches, Trello board project tracker, and sometimes even 3D designs just for fun. Before doing all that, I tend to stare at what it looks like before and talk about the changes with my wife. At the time, she's just as excited about it as I am and gets super excited. I sometimes randomly bring it up every other week or month until we finally do it.

Problem is, she completely forgets about all of our plans right before I start executing them and acts upset when I try to refute her change of plans instead. She's surprised that we ever talked about them and doesn't believe me sometimes, despite multiple conversations, written records, and multiple models for it months in advance.

A few examples:

  • I wanted to add small dividers to part of our backyard with small white rocks. I tell her, she agrees. A few weeks later, I begin ordering the materials and she talks about using wood chips instead with a completely different design. Fine, we got with it but we're too busy to order the different materials I didn't have in mind so we postpone it. A week later, she doesn't agree with her own plan and wants to change it again.
  • I decided to create a large floating TV frame for our living room with matching cubbies underneath and dedicated place for the sound bar. I make the frame shortly afterwards and decide to wait for the cubbies as we're busy with work. Once I want to start ordering them, I run it through her and she's surprised by it and decides to change the layout completely as well as colors, implying I'm lying when I said I had already told her about it despite having drawings for it on record.
  • We find a cool design for an entryway on Pinterest and decide we want to do it in the future. A year later, I finally get to work on it and begin planning the materials needed. However, she then asks why I'm doing it that way and suggests a completely different way as if she completely disagrees with the original idea. I hesitate and she gets mad.
  • She finds a cool bedroom design and shows it to me. I love it and save it for next year. We slowly build towards it and slowly prepare certain elements. When we get to the core parts like giant folding patio door on the wall or pillars with storage, she suggests french doors instead and getting rid of the pillars as unnecessary despite being low on storage and having shown my desire for the folding door on a monthly basis. I ask why she changed things and she acts surprised she ever agreed to the previous idea.

This extends to other things like helping out my parents find a place or having kids at a certain age and many more things. It's very frustrating for me. I do my best to accept her changes but it seriously demotivates me to even work towards any changes when she changes her mind at the last moment. What hurts the most, however, is the fact that she acts surprised we ever discussed it and shrugs off my statements when I mention it.

What can I do to have her recognize and honor plans we already made and worked towards?

I already keep text records but those aren't much help. Having her sign written contracts for it sounds overkill. I already tried asking her about it but she says things like "So we're not supposed to evolve?", implying that the plans are outdated and better methods are available. However, it feels like she's just changing things for the sake of changing things. If I mention why her changes are objectively worse than the original we had already agreed on, she simply gets upset at which point I go elsewhere to avoid further conflict. Her family has a history of altzheimer's but we're both in our early 20's. Perhaps executing those plans right away before she changes her mind would help, but I don't have the time for that.

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    Hello, just a side note that some people can have Altzheimer's even if they are very young (it's rarer, but it happens). Also, one can have a terrible memory for other reasons than Altzheimer (worst case, it could be a brain tumor). Maybe you should go with your wife to a doctor to evaluate her memory and see if there is something you should be doing about it?
    – Ael
    Dec 31 '20 at 8:43
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    As a general rule, when you say that your wife agrees with your plan, does she agree with each specific detail individually? Or is it possible that she only agrees with the "big picture" which could be the reason why she wants to change some "details" afterward?
    – Ael
    Dec 31 '20 at 11:03
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    When you start working on a project (apparently weeks up to a year after you came up with a plan), do you discuss it with your wife again? Like, "Hey, remember we were talking about the backyard? I'd like to order the rocks now. Do you think this size/color is okay?"
    – Llewellyn
    Dec 31 '20 at 13:55
  • Two things jump out for me: "Implying I'm lying" is much worse than any other issue. And have you considered telling her everything you told us, that it's a demoralizing pattern to you whether she recognizes it or not? I was with an oppositional spouse (No, I'm not), and the best we could do was divide the apartment into territories where each was in charge of decor. The other had to wait two weeks before criticizing a change. Dec 31 '20 at 19:51
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I was recently in a relationship where I repeatedly had this same issue: I felt like we had agreed on something concrete, but when it came time to do that thing, he was suddenly not on board. It was frustrating, but I did learn a few things that made it easier to manage.

The first and easiest potential issue to solve is that she's not actually agreeing to what you think she is. Is she saying, "yes, I love the white rocks, let's use those in the yard" or are you showing her a picture and she's saying "yes, that looks great"? The latter is not a commitment to use white rocks in the yard. It's just giving an opinion on a picture. Instead, ask her specifically to commit to something. If you show her a picture with white rocks in the yard, she says it looks great, ask her explicitly, "so you're on board with me buying enough white rocks to do this to our yard next summer?" This will move the conversation from opinions on abstract ideas to real plans. My guess is the response you'll get will be surprise and she won't agree to that. If she gives a wishy washy response instead of a clear yes, don't just accept it. Keep asking until she clearly and explicitly says either yes or no. With my ex, I felt like he was regularly backing out of plans, but after paying closer attention to his responses, I realized he wasn't ever truly committing to them in the first place. Things improved a lot after I started explicitly asking him to commit to plans, because we both had a clear idea of what was agreed to.

Another easily solved problem I've run into with multiple people is them not wanting to explicitly disagree with me. In your case, I'd ask if she wants to make any changes to your proposed design. Suggesting something specific you're fine with changing can work well, since that gives her a way to raise objections without contradicting you. You should know her well enough to know if that's possibly going on or not.

The last potential cause of this problem is that your wife is not good at keeping commitments, that it simply isn't important to her, maybe on this topic specifically. She may not understand why you want to make these plans so far in advance and why it bothers you to change them when it comes time to implement them. I think this is pretty likely based on the things she's said about it. I also like to plan things in advance like you do, but many people do not. This should come out when you ask her to commit to a plan, because she'll refuse to do so. To solve this, you'll need to talk about why planning is important to you, why making impromptu decisions is important to her, and see if you can find a solution that satisfies you both. There's lots of advice on this forum about how to do this effectively: pick a time you're both calm, use "I" statements, seek to understand rather than blame or persuade, etc. You probably won't get exactly what you want, but hopefully you figure out something you can both live with.

Some of the comments suggest your wife may have health issues affecting her memory. It's not impossible that's the case, but my guess is you'd notice if it were. I think it's much more likely that you are misinterpreting what she's saying to be a stronger agreement than it is, or that she simply expects to change her mind on the details and for you to be fine with that. She doesn't remember committing because it was never her intention to commit, that's all.

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