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Carolyn Hax: Can no longer take husband’s disrespectful siblings

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: My husband’s family is bigoted and I don’t want to be around them. My husband’s parents were wonderful, intelligent, interesting people that I enjoyed visiting, but now that they are gone I don’t want to waste a minute of my life with his disrespectful, domineering and boring siblings and their children. They ignored and disrespected their father in his last years and they disregard me and my husband today.

My husband wants to attend the family Christmas celebration on the Saturday before Christmas, and I feel it is a waste of my time and energy to pretend I care. The minute we walk in the door, the comments begin about politics (blacks, women, gays, etc.) and about how stupid we are for residing in a major liberal city.

The problem is, my husband intellectually and emotionally realizes and feels this – his brothers’ disrespect is hurtful – but he wants the unity and love he felt when his mom was alive. But I only felt a few years of this feeling, two decades ago, and have 20 years of fallout and resentment and sadness to console him for. I have held it together.

Now his father is gone, and I want to have peace. I have somewhere else I’d rather be.

– Anonymous

No doubt.

But as long as your husband wants to attend this gathering, any stand you take against the siblings is also a stand against your husband.

There are times when that’s appropriate – if he were taking part in any bigoted reindeer games, say, or even if he were monopolizing every Christmas Day or Eve instead of a preceding Saturday – but that’s not the case here. He doesn’t agree with his siblings. Their attitude hurts him. He’s attending not out of solidarity or even duty, but out of a sense of loss.

It’s one non-sacred day.

So: Is it a waste of your time and energy to show up for your husband’s sake, and for his sake alone? That’s a very different question from the one you posed, even if the answer’s still “no.”

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