Annie’s Mailbox for Jan. 22, 2011: Parents demand apology
Dear Annie: A few years ago, my husband and I had some problems and we separated. My parents were wonderfully supportive at the time, but when I decided to return to my marriage, they insisted my husband apologize to them. He refused, saying he only owed apologies to me and the children, and even if he did apologize to my parents, it wouldn’t change their feelings toward him. I tend to agree with him. They have had a rocky relationship since we were engaged.
My parents have now decided that my husband is not welcome in their home if he doesn’t apologize. That is their choice. My husband is pretty good about letting me take the kids to see my folks without him. The problem is always during the holidays.
My husband and I each have children from previous relationships, and they need to see those sets of parents and grandparents on the holidays, too. My mom, no matter what, is never happy with how I divide my time. I am tired of being told, “It would be nice if you would eat here once in awhile,” or “Why can’t you stay longer?”
I have told my mother that I am doing the best I can, but will not leave my husband to eat holiday meals alone. That isn’t good enough. She complains that all she gets are the “leftovers” of my day.
Christmas was difficult last year. How can I get Mom to understand that I can only be in so many places at a time? I am tired of the guilt trips. What can I do short of telling her that we won’t come at all?
— Not Looking Forward to Easter
Dear Not: Your mother understands perfectly, but she is selfish. She wants all of your time and doesn’t care how hard it is for you or how unfair it is to others. Stop explaining your reasons, and learn to ignore her complaints. Give her whatever time you can manage, and if she doesn’t like it, too bad.
Dear Annie: I can’t help commenting on the letter from “Confused in California,” who asked what to call people who are separated but not divorced.
I suggest we invent the word “detachee” for women and “detache” for men who are separated from their spouses. We should all agree that this word refers to someone in the process of detaching him or herself from a marriage. We can give the term a bit of French flair by pronouncing it “day-tah-shay,” the way we do “fiancee.” There’s nothing wrong with inventing a word as long as we all agree on what it means.
Dear G.F.: We like it! Read on for a few more suggestions:
From the East Coast: For 20 years, I lived in New York City, where the Draconian divorce laws kept many people together long after the marriage was over — dead, but not buried, as I used to say. We called them “The Terminally Separated.”
Louisiana: “Confused in California” should simply refer to himself as “married.” He should call his wife, who isn’t living with him anymore, his “wife.” Those statuses do not change because of the living arrangements. If he meets someone with whom he wants to pursue a relationship, then he can explain the dynamics of his marital relationship.
California: My husband and I have been separated for six years, and I, too, struggled with what to call him. I now refer to him as my was-band, which often gets a laugh and is easily understood.
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