Fam­ily drama brings on big changes

The Beacon Herald - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON ASK AMY Email: [email protected]­bune.com Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: Since last year,

I’ve been ask­ing my wife to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to the hol­i­days, and to just fo­cus on our small im­me­di­ate fam­ily.

Ev­ery sin­gle year, with­out fail, there’s some ma­jor dis­ap­point­ment, fam­ily con­flict or travel de­ba­cle, typ­i­cally with her ex­tended fam­ily.

She walks away ex­hausted, an­gry, frus­trated or hurt.

Last year, she said she was “done” af­ter a big fight be­tween her aunt and cousin that got very heated.

She says that she does not want them around, but she feels ob­li­gated to host these big fam­ily hol­i­day par­ties, be­cause other­wise, they would not see each other.

My wife fi­nally said she was not go­ing to host this year. I was thrilled, and told her we would find ways to make it spe­cial for us and our son.

Soon af­ter, my wife started to tell me that she was get­ting “rude” or “hurt­ful” re­sponses from her fam­ily, say­ing that they were dis­ap­pointed in her. She be­gan to sec­ond-guess our de­ci­sion. She told me that her fam­ily be­gan to as­sume that I did not want them around, and she did not know why they thought this.

I found out through an­other fam­ily mem­ber that my wife had ac­tu­ally blamed me for for­go­ing the hol­i­day party this year, and she had told her fam­ily that she re­ally wanted to have it, but I was against it.

Amy, how can I get my wife to un­der­stand “qual­ity” over “quan­tity” with fa­mil­ial re­la­tion­ships? I don’t want to see my wife in this con­stant cy­cle of anx­i­ety and stress.

What do you rec­om­mend? — ANX­IOUS HUS­BAND

Dear Hus­band: Your wife’s fam­ily mem­bers took ad­van­tage of her pas­siv­ity for years, and now she is ba­si­cally throw­ing you un­der the fam­ily bus in or­der to es­cape their re­ac­tion to this change. (Un­der­stand that your in­sis­tence that she change things is also prob­a­bly stress­ful for her.)

But hey — she is half-right. You are the one forc­ing this is­sue, and you should be will­ing to take one for the fam­ily team. You are in­oc­u­lated against this bul­ly­ing be­cause you likely don’t care all that much what these peo­ple think of you. The beauty of be­ing an in-law is that you get to make all the pro­nounce­ments, with very lit­tle per­sonal con­se­quence.

I hope you will take the lead and plan some hol­i­day cen­tered plans that your im­me­di­ate fam­ily can en­joy to­gether, in the hope that these will be­come tra­di­tions. At­tend your lo­cal the­ater’s pro­duc­tion of A Christ­mas Carol. Make and dec­o­rate cook­ies to de­liver to neigh­bors. Go ice skat­ing to­gether.

It isn’t fair, and it isn’t right, but you should be pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­ity that even with a lovely, low-key hol­i­day, your wife will feel pres­sured, guilty and as if she is miss­ing some­thing im­por­tant. She will have to find the best bal­ance for her.

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I and our three chil­dren moved into a du­plex home a few months ago.

The neigh­bors are great ex­cept they smoke mar­i­juana.

The smell is aw­ful. It both­ers me a lot.

Our whole house smells when­ever they’re smok­ing, es­pe­cially my lit­tle son’s room.

We don’t want to move any­time soon. What should we do? — CON­CERN MOM

Dear Con­cerned: You don’t say whether you rent or are an owner, but it is in­creas­ingly com­mon for smok­ing to be banned in homes shar­ing a com­mon wall — for the rea­son you cite. Mar­i­juana smoke is es­pe­cially pungent, and even if this next-door ex­po­sure doesn’t prove toxic to you or your chil­dren, the smell alone is re­ally nox­ious.

You should speak with your neigh­bors. You say they are “great;” there is a real like­li­hood that they sim­ply don’t re­al­ize the im­pact their smok­ing has on your fam­ily.

Say, “Hey, I want you to know that we are get­ting slammed by pot smoke over here. It’s es­pe­cially strong in Benny’s room. It’s like it comes right through the walls. Can you guys smoke out­side?”

De­pend­ing on their re­sponse, you will want to re­fer to your lease, condo or

HOA rules to see what rules are in place, and en­force­able.

Dear Amy: “Wor­ried Grad” won­dered how to reach out to his col­lege crush, two years af­ter grad­u­a­tion.

Thank you for en­cour­ag­ing him to do this, and for of­fer­ing ideas for what to say.

I con­tacted my col­lege crush out of the blue — and out of the blue, we fell in love!

— HAPPY Dear Happy: The thing to re­mem­ber is to keep the con­tact light, and to not ex­ert any pres­sure.

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