Monday, November 18, 2013

Dear Abby today… yet another person being pressured to spend holidays with an ex

Just read today's Dear Abby.  Some poor lady's mother-in-law has decided to invite the lady's ex boyfriend and his wife over for Thanksgiving dinner.  Oddly enough, Abby did not offer the writer any advice.  She just empathizes with the writer and says mother-in-law was insensitive for inviting over the ex.

If you've read this blog, you know that I have been in this situation myself.  My husband's ex wife invited herself and her husband over to my father-in-law's and his wife's (stepmother-in-law's) house for Christmas nine years ago, then told Bill and me to attend and stay in a hotel.  I was expected to attend the "celebration" and put on a happy face.  I refused to go, and it was the very best decision I could have made.  In my situation, I was fortunate enough to have an understanding husband who did not accuse me of "overreacting", although the in laws were pissed for awhile.

What's bad about this scenario is that the writer's ex boyfriend is apparently an abusive and manipulative person.  People like that usually expect that everyone else will "play nice" in an effort not to stir up trouble.  Playing nice with abusive people is usually not a good idea, since they will invariably take advantage of the situation.

Holidays are supposed to be fun and relaxing.  If you are being asked to spend it with someone you can't stand, it's definitely not going to be fun and relaxing.  You have a right to enjoy your holidays.  Mother-in-law has the right to invite whomever she wants to into her home, but you are not obligated to  subject yourself to someone who is abusive.

If I were in Abby's letter writer's position, I would explain to mother-in-law that I planned to stay home on Thanksgiving.  I would wish her well and let her know that I would be happy to spend time with her when she isn't entertaining my ex.  Then I would stay home.  If it meant being alone on Thanksgiving, so be it.  If my husband wasn't willing to stand by me, I would give some serious thought to the health of the relationship.

In my situation, I did send Bill to the in laws' house.  He was there to see his kids.  I figured no one really wanted to see me anyway.  I caught a lot of shit from the in-laws for not going, and Bill's ex was upset that I wasn't there.  I suppose it wasn't because she wanted to be friends with me but because it exposed her plan for being really fucked up.  She was mad because I didn't do her bidding.  My not attending made it very clear that I have boundaries, though.  She needed to know that she doesn't control me.

Likewise, Abby's correspondent needs to be an adult and put her foot down.

Barring that, she could always do this...

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