Family beach vacation spawns a marital battle – The Seattle Times

Posted: August 4, 2017 at 8:44 pm

Husband loses it when wife citing good reasons says his parents arent invited to this family outing, stops talking to her and takes to the couch. Was she wrong?

DEAR CAROLYN: When my husband and I first married, I had a wonderful relationship with his parents. However, in the past decade, his mothers health has deteriorated such that she is now severely disabled and depressed. My father-in-law is a wonderful man who has devoted his life to her care but, despite his devotion, she directs her unhappiness at him. Spending time with them is difficult.

My husband agrees theyre not easy, but also mourns his moms disabilities. They are local, so we probably see them monthly.

They recently announced their plan to join us on the annual beach vacation with my side of the family (who is not local). They plan to rent a house nearby during the same week.

Carolyn, this time with my husband and children is dear to me and the prospect of an in-law invasion makes me miserable. When I shared these feelings with my husband and proposed alternatives (a weekend getaway with them or time together during a different week), he flipped out and was devastated. He said he cannot tell them no and I am unreasonable for not accommodating them.

Im not the type to put my foot down, but Ive done so, and my husband is now sleeping on the couch and not speaking to me. Aside from this one issue, our relationship is great. I need a sanity check; am I in the wrong?


DEAR ANONYMOUS: No. Even if your mother-in-law were in perfect health and pleasant company, youd have every right to veto, saying, We see your parents monthly; this is my familys time.

And, his flipping out on you is not OK, regardless. Even when such an emotional outburst is understandable, a loving, mature adult will de-escalate and apologize for losing his composure. Sticking with it over days, against someone who is making clear efforts to both honor her priorities and make reasonable trade-offs to do so, is not acting in good marital faith.

Its important to recognize, though, that being right can still be wrong if you dont recognize the emotional stakes. Even a loving, mature adult can buckle under the strain of helplessness in a crisis like his mothers, and when that happens, its not unusual for someone to unload some of the excess weight onto the nearest safe person. In this case, you.

Or in the case of his mother: his father. You say she unloads on him despite his devotion, but I would argue its because of it. Whom can we blame for infirmity, mortality and loss? The universe? So, we blame our best friends for burning the toast.

People generally dont do this consciously, they just drop their guard around the person they trust not to leave.

If your husbands flip-out is indeed uncharacteristic, I think you can safely treat this as his attacking not you or your family time, but the Human Condition by the nearest available means.

So approach him accordingly. Your moms ordeal is tearing you up. I see that. Wait a beat for a response. If none, say you didnt mean to add more stress and youre there for him when hes ready. Then, patience. Hold firm on the beach or relent up to you but either way, he needs the best listener you can be.

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Family beach vacation spawns a marital battle - The Seattle Times

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