I don’t want to spend Christmas with my husband’s family!

Q:  “I don’t like Christmas with my husband’s family. It’s our year to go there, and I dread it! There is no peace or harmony; only tension. His mother and sister don’t like me, and I usually am left alone while my husband visits with everyone else. Would it be horrible for me to tell him I don’t want to go and just stay home this year?”

Joyce’s FIX:

The short answer: YES!  There are a few situations I immediately see in your scenario. Let me address these as succinctly as I can.

  1. Shame on your husband. This unfortunate scenario should have been addressed by him early on in your all’s relationship. It still can be. He should  go to his mother and sister and have a tender heart-to-heart talk with them. It could be helpful; it could not make any difference at all. But what does it do for you? It sends a message to you that he has your back, that he supports you in this matter, and that alone will boost your marriage.  Also, your husband needs to be more attentive to you, understanding the sensitive nature of the situation. You’re a big girl and should not have to have him near you every moment, but given the matter as you’ve described it, he should be stuck like glue to you, making sure you feel as comfortable as possible.
  2. Shame on his mother and sister. How terribly small and petty they appear to be. I would hope once your husband addresses this situation–and prayerfully he will–their attitudes will change for the better. If you have given them cause not to accept you, this is something you need to come to terms with and attempt to make amends. I’m sorry and please forgive me go a long way in patching up broken relationships.
  3. Shame on you. Find your backbone. Confidence will strengthen you. You have no reason to feel insecure. You are married to your mother’s-in-law son and your sister’s-in-law brother. You have a huge piece of his heart, but don’t ever feel as though you’re in competition with them as far as he is concerned. Nor should you feel inferior in any way in this family atmosphere. Be kind. Be considerate. Treat them the way you desire to be treated. Honey draws more flies than vinegar. Who knows…they might just come around to being a adults in the situation.  But, never bring yourself to their level.

Family is special. Extended family needs to be negotiated as delicately as possible, because after all, extended family is a huge piece of not only the history of our spouse, but also a huge chunk of the present and future. Life is too short to dread visits with someone who should be cherished. But, truth be told, some people will always be small-minded. The sad part is when we allow them to whittle ours down to equal theirs.

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