Dear Christine, Annoyed in Adrian

  • Posted on October 30, 2017 at 11:51 am

Dear Christine,

Every year for the past 10 years me and my wife travel either to her families home for the holiday or mine. We trade off each holiday between Florida and Southern California. Either way–nice to go to a warm place! This year it’s her families turn–that’s California. I just found out, however, that my mother is starting to fail. She’s 89 and my sisters are telling me this might be her last Christmas. My suggestion to my wife is that we go to visit my family this year and double up on hers for the next two years. She wasn’t having that so I suggested we each go our separate ways, me to mine and her to hers and she’s freaking out. We are at a standoff with neither of us giving in. All I know is, I AM going to see my mom! I can’t understand why my wife is not being more supportive. Any suggestions? I’m feeling angry at her.

Signed,

Annoyed in Adrian

Dear Annoyed, I hear you! We all have limited days and we each have one Thanksgiving, one Christmas and one New Years per year. How to divide holidays between your two families equally has worked very well the first 10 years of your marriage. Now, your mom probably hasn’t got another Christmas left, so of course you want to be with her this year, even though it’s an “off year.” Your wife doesn’t agree that this is a good enough reason to break the tradition you both have honored thus far. And both of you are right. You need a King Solomon to make this decision (in the Old Testament, two women claimed to be the mother of one baby, and so Solomon decided what was fair was to cut the child in half and give each mother half. Needless to say, the biological mother immediately gave up her half to save her child’s life).

No matter what you both decide, someone, probably several people, will be hurt. A healthy marriage is one in which each individual makes sure to meet their basic needs first, and create the relationship with what is “left over.” If you take care of your need to be with your mom, you will hurt your wife and her family. If you take care of your wife’s need, you might hurt your mom, family and yourself. If your wife agrees to double up this Christmas with your family, she will hurt her family and there is always the chance that someone on her side will not see another Christmas as well. If you go to your own families, your wife feels hurt that you have broken tradition. It comes down to doing what you believe in your heart you need to do. What is most important to you and your emotional well–being? Be honest about your decision process with your wife. Listen carefully, lovingly to her hurt and her concerns. Since you cannot meet her needs and your own, then only you can choose which is most important for you this moment. Your job in life is to take care of yourself first. Her job is to take care of herself first. There is no “right” or “wrong” decision. Each one has many difficulties, hurts and joys. Your wife must decide what she can or can’t do in response. Hopefully, you both will understand that there will be more than enough hurt, but understanding and love can continue, despite the disappointments. Take care, Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888
Click here to email Christine.

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