I expressed that I wanted to avoid any family drama as I’m never made to feel welcome by my mother-in-law anyway. My husband does not have my back and has made it impossible now to enjoy the holiday because I was adamant about not going to his mother’s. He also never tells his mother I don’t feel welcome; he thinks I should basically deal with her cold treatment towards me. Please help. — Tired of Cold Treatment for the Holidays
Your husband wants to spend the holidays with his parents; you don’t want to go to their home because you feel unwelcome. Compromise by trying something a little different: Invite them to your place for Christmas this year (since it’s a little late to switch up Thanksgiving plans). That way your husband (and your kids) still get to spend the holiday with your in-laws’ and you don’t have to deal with feeling unwelcome in their home.
Also, adjust your expectations, and don’t rely on your mother-in-law’s treatment of you to make or break your holiday season. Expect that it’s not going to be super fun spending a few hours in your in-laws’ company, and then be glad it’s only a few hours. Make special plans for the days surrounding each holiday you spend with your in-laws that are just for your immediate family and/or for them and a few other people you genuinely enjoy. Accept that as an adult (especially as a married adult with kids), the holidays aren’t going to be all about what you want. You’re going to have to compromise, suck things up a little, and grin and bear it when you don’t get exactly your way.
I’m sorry about your dog. I know how much it hurts to lose a furry member of the family. The worst thing you can do though is to tie your grief to traditions that have nothing to do with your loss. Saying you don’t want to spend Christmas with your in-laws this year, when you always spend Christmas with them, because you’re distraught over your dog’s death, doesn’t make much sense. Wanting to avoid family drama? Sure, that’s understandable. But you don’t do that by cutting out your in-laws from a holiday you always spend with them, especially when you know how much that will hurt and alienate your husband.
What might make you feel a little better in your grief is doing something special to remember your dog, like having an ornament made with his or her image or name on it, lighting a candle each night during the holiday in your dog’s memory, or asking your husband for a framed picture of your dog as a holiday gift this year.
Finally, if you generally feel like your husband doesn’t have your back – in regards to his mother’s treatment of you and anything else — and you’ve discussed your feelings with him and nothing has changed, please consider getting marriage counseling together. A successful marriage depends on each partner feeling supported – and not dismissed – by the other.
Recently, he got sick and had to go to the hospital. He called me but his sons and daughter were there, so I wasn’t allowed to go see him. I feel worthless, and his relationship with his daughter doesn’t seem normal. Should a 74-year-old man let his adult child tell him how to run his life? — Coffee and Sunsets Aren’t Enough
He’s lying to you. It’s highly, highly unlikely he’s sharing his home with his daughter and his daughter only. Either that woman isn’t actually his daughter, his wife never died, or there’s another girlfriend you don’t know about. Regardless, you clearly are not getting what you want out of this relationship and it’s time to move on.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.