Dear Amy: I have been married to my husband for almost 20 years. Unlike my side of the family, which usually sends out an invitation weeks before an event, my husband’s side only sends out invitations two to three days before, even though we all live hours apart.
Honestly, between our kids ‘busy schedules and booking a dog sitter, we would need at least two or three weeks’ notice to attend an out of town event.
For years I thought they were just last minute planners. I got used to juggling / canceling plans and begging a dog sitter to go to their place.
What I have realized over the past two years is that only we are getting the last minute invitation. The three older brothers and their parents often make plans in advance and simply exclude us (including going on a trip together in a large group, and not telling us until they’ve returned home).
I am now firmly convinced that they do not want us to attend family functions. I don’t think they hate us. There has never been a drama. I just don’t think we’re interesting to them. My stepmom plays the sideburns.
My husband admits that their behavior is not respectful of our time. But he clings to the idea that last minute invitations are real.
I sympathize with him, even though they seem to exclude my very sweet and faithful husband from the family fold.
I actually love my in-laws, but if my presence is wasting their time, I would rather stay home.
Should we continue to participate or should I just sit my husband down and firmly explain to him that we are not wanted?
He is far too shy and silent to face them.
Junk black sheep
Dear unwanted people: You seem to have no grudges towards your in-laws. You interpret their behavior as evidence that they are actively trying to exclude you. It is also possible that they care so little about you and your family that you are almost an afterthought.
I suggest that in the future, when you are invited to a last minute family reunion out of town, you should hug your husband, load him and the kids in the car, and stay home with the dog.
Dear Amy: I know this question is long on the road. However, after my mother died in 2006, our family Christmas celebration unfortunately waned.
For a few years, we carried on our traditions. Two years ago, these family traditions actually seemed more depressing than festive.
My husband and I live in a remote town, far from our family. It cost us thousands of dollars to see them on Christmas, and it’s no longer fun. No one wants to put in a lot of effort for Christmas, or for our visits.
We spend most of our time in our hotel room while on vacation because our family is busy. They are all retired now.
We have very welcoming friends here in our own city who we celebrate and have a wonderful vacation. In fact, we would rather stay home now.
Am I a terrible man?
I love my family. I just don’t want to go back for Christmas.
The pandemic has given us the perfect excuse to stay home.
Dear W: Many of us hold on fiercely to our holiday celebrations and family traditions and we feel so nostalgic when those celebrations dwindle. But I think it’s important to recognize that what we hold on to are our memories of those vacations, and to give ourselves permission to create new traditions better suited to our age and scene.
The isolation imposed by the pandemic seems to have given people the opportunity to stop and catch their breath, and now that we emerge we realize we just don’t want to go back to the stress of vacation travel and the traditions that no longer match.
Tell your family that you won’t be traveling during the holidays. It is not necessary to invent an excuse or provide a reason. Schedule a Zoom meeting so you can all raise a drink and get together.
Dear Amy: “Ready for Change” was fed up with her husband’s alcohol consumption.
I hope all spouses of alcoholics understand that if their spouses are looking for help getting sober, they should also seek help on how to marry an alcoholic.
Dear summer there: Absolutely. This is where “friends and family” support groups like Al-Anon can be of great help.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.