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Val123's avatar

What side do you agree with on this debate?

Asked by Val123 (12689points) December 22nd, 2009

My dad died a few years ago, but his second wife is still with us, probably because she’s only a few years older than me! Anyway, the problem is: For almost six weeks my husband’s 86-year-old father has been in the hospital in a town that’s 200 miles away, and he’s not getting any better. He’s actually getting worse day by day. My husband has been up there for virtually almost all of that time. He’s made three trips home, the longest he’s stayed is two nights. I’ve seen him for a total of five days in the last month and a half.

Well, I was talking to my Dad’s wife, telling her about some of the situation. The subject of my husband coming home for Christmas came up. Well….he missed Thanksgiving here, and as things have gotten worse, it’s becoming apparent that he probably isn’t going to make it home for Christmas (we really can’t afford the $60 it takes in gas for each round trip, and he’d just come back last Friday, picked me up to take me to his Dad’s town, then back again on Sunday, day before yesterday….) So, for a variety of reasons (the most important, of course, is being with his Dad because we don’t know what could happen from day to day,) it looks like he won’t make it home for Christmas. My Dad’s wife is saying, “Oh! But he HAS to be home for Christmas!” Me…I’m thinking…“He does? Why?” (Is that the ‘wrong’ way to feel?)

Here’s the disagreement. My dad’s wife is saying that I need show my husband how much support him, and especially how much I love him, and to that end she thinks I should tell him that I miss him so much, and I’d really like it if he could be home for Christmas if at all possible. I, however, feel like telling him that that would be putting emotional pressure, a guilt trip, on him to come home when we know we can’t afford it, plus we don’t know what’s going to happen to his dad day by day. I feel like he feels my support more by the less I comment on how his being gone has affected us.

What do you think? I mean, he knows I miss him because I tell him, and he misses us and home because he tells me… you think I should express how much I’d like for him to be home at Christmas, or just let be what has to be?

I had to edit to let folks know my dad’s wife and I are not close. She lives 2000 miles away, I see her only very rarely. She really has no idea what the inner workings of my family are….those were just her generic thoughts on relationships…

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21 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

This is between you and your husband and nobody else. Don’t let a third party tell you what is right for you. It does not sound like your husband needs any more pressure right now. You are supporting him. It sounds like nobody could do it better.

dpworkin's avatar

She sounds very manipulative, and you owe her nothing. Help your husband get through this rough stretch, which I believe is rightly your first instinct.

janbb's avatar

I think you’re on the right track here. She is trying to manipulate the situation for some reason. He knows that you would be prefer to have him with you but that you are supporting his need to be where he needs to be. Don’t give her ideas a second thought!

lillycoyote's avatar

As @Jeruba said, this is between you and your husband and none of your dad’s wife’s business. You are supporting him in being where he feels he needs to be, with his father. It sounds like you have married a good man, a man who knows what matters. There will be other Christmases for you and him, but maybe not for him and his father. If this is any indication, he will also be there for you and your family when he needs to be. I’ve lost both my parents and the last bits of time you have with them is very precious. You can’t get it back. And you’re a sweetheart, not to nag and demand that he be at home for Christmas, when he needs to be with his father. You are both lucky to have each other.

gradyjones's avatar

Your step mother should mind her own business. This is between you and your husband and no one else has a say in the matter. You and your husband must already be under a lot of stress from this situation, you are a right that adding a guilt trip would make things worse.

Val123's avatar

Thank you guys….In her defense, I don’t know that she was being so much manipulative as….stating….well, how she would handle it. She has no kids, my dad wasn’t particularly involved with us…..she had no one but my Dad to worry about….I think she was trying to be helpful. Well, OK. I told her that Rick and I were at odds on Sunday, on the drive back, and on Monday, before he left again. Basically he wasn’t talking to me, and SO I wasn’t talking to him!! It’s called a spat, and that kind of thing happens especially in emotionally charged situations like this. I was angry that in his frustration Rick turned on me, not because of anything I’d done bad but because I was the nearest target! So he took it out on me. It’s been resolved by now, of course, but that’s what she was reacting to….basically I need to understand him (Believe me, I do. I had to deal with my Mom for two years in a very similar situation…but I never took it out on Rick!) so, in fairness to her, there is that piece of the puzzle.

She’s the kind of “stand by your man” person. She says spoil them, pamper them, do for them…..but that’s not me. She’d never dream of telling my dad to KMA!! Where as I’d do it in a heartbeat if my husband was being unreasonable!

janbb's avatar

Nevertheless, the main point is that it is you and Rick alone who get to determine what goes on in your relationship. Sounds like a very healthy one to me.

ubersiren's avatar

There will be many Christmases that you and your husband can spend together. But, for this one it’s important that your husband is with his father. It sounds like your step-mother is concerned for your happiness, which is good, but also that she is sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Just let her know that it’s important to you that your husband spends this time with his dad. I’m on your side on this one. I can see how it would make you feel horrible to demand him (or passive-aggressively guilt him into it) to come home for any reason right now.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

You have the right idea and don’t need your dad’s wife’s “help”. :)

Silhouette's avatar

I’d thank her for her input and I’d dismiss her ideas based on her ignorance of my families inner workings. You and your husband seem to have already sorted out your priorities. I wouldn’t let a meddling mommy in law, even a well meaning meddling mommy in law, have me second guessing a decision my husband and I have already made.

Val123's avatar

@ubersiren Yes…those are my feelings. To make any comment to him about how important it is to me that he be home would be like…disregarding the importance of what he’s doing now. And this…suggestion, if she were to follow her own advice in the same situation, sounds more like she’d be concerned about her own happiness than anyone else’s needs. Does that make sense? I mean…..if it were important to HER that her husband be home for Christmas, well….who is she thinking of if she drops hints about how much she would like her husband home? “Passive/Aggressive” is the right term here, I think.

@allya’ll….thank you so much for your input. I really wasn’t sure if I was right on in my thinking or not. Sometimes (OK, only one other time in my life) I found that I wasn’t!

Val123's avatar

But please guys….don’t be too hard. She’s never had kids, she’s never had to go through the trauma of a parent of her spouse being hospitialized….my grandparents both died before I was even born, and my dad and her were married when I was in my early 20’s. Her Dad died after my Dad did, and her mom is now in a nursing home. And she went through all of that without having to juggle her relationship with my Dad… she doesn’t really know…..all she knows is “stand by your man.” Whereas my motto is “Stand by your man unless he acts like an AH, whereupon kick his butt!” She’s seriously like a 1950’s, June Cleaver wife…....

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I agree with @Jeruba. I think this decision is between you and your husband. My wife has been away from our home here in southern Alberta (just north the the Montana border) since November 12th because our son in law was killed in a mishap at work. She is in The Kansas City area 2200 miles away and I miss her terribly but I trust her judgment concerning how much longer this new widow needs her mom’s help and support.

Your husband knows all the details concerning the situation with his father, and where he feels he needs to be at this time. In all likelihood, you and your husband will have many other Christmases together. I’m sure he appreciates your respect and forbearance at this time. Politely ignore your stepmother’s opinion and pressure. Don’t take any further BS from her.

Hang in there!

Val123's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence OMG…I am sooooo sorry. To lose a son is, IMO, worse than losing a parent….I am so sorry. Give your wife and daughter in law my thoughts, from a stranger…..I’m here in Kansas so….

And I am politely ignoring her opinions…I guess I just didn’t quite understand her logic behind them, even when she explained them to me….

Buttonstc's avatar

I don’t really think it matters all that much why she feels the way she does about what your husband should do. People feel differently about issues. What she might do were she in your position may very well be workable FOR HER.

But, it’s obviously not right for you and and your husband and you instinctively realize this. Follow your own instincts without apology.

If she would do differently it’s entirely possible that that would be best in her situation.

But you and your husband are different sorts of people and this is definitely not a situation with a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

Follow your heart and your own instincts and thank her for sharing her perspective with you.

Hopefully she will understand that it’s not a right vs. wrong situation. Her decisions are right for her and yours are right for you. It doesn’t need to become adversarial unless she chooses to make it such. Hopefully she will be gracious about it and still be emotionally supportive towards you.

Jeruba's avatar

@Val123, if you are trying to understand her thinking, well, I’m just guessing here, but try this on and see if it fits your sense of your late father’s wife (who, I am remembering, is very close to your age and hence who married a man nearly old enough to be her father):

I want to feel important and needed because that is what makes me feel loved. If someone important in my life could do without me on Christmas, I would not feel very important and needed and so I would think he didn’t love me very much. So this must be what your husband feels, and you should act accordingly.”

I think she is telling you more than she means to about how she conducts a personal relationship: through unspoken expectations, pressure, guilt, and salving of egos. Maybe she is even hoping that you will insist on having her visit for Christmas!

YARNLADY's avatar

If it’s only a matter that you can’t afford it, maybe she is willing to offer to pay his way.

Val123's avatar

@Jeruba I think…very insightful! Yes….it’s a reflection of… she would feel….she would not be happy feeling like she was suddenly “abandoned” She’s never had to deal with…just her. So….it would be a case of “What about ME?” (But, trust me…she doesn’t want us to invite her here, to forsake her riches in Florida to camp out here in Kansas…somewhere along the line of her Kansas farming family history, she got too good for folks who….don’t have a Master Bath in their guest rooms..)

@YARNLADY A trip to Florida is truly out of the the question right now.

thriftymaid's avatar

You know your husband better than anyone and your dad’s wife has no place giving advice, unless you asked her opinion. Your relationship with your husband is personal and you and he must decide what is best for you and your own family.

Jeruba's avatar

@Val123, I’ve been writing a lot of fiction lately. Believe me, that’s an exercise in imagining the feelings of people unlike yourself.

So—if it is something like that, it should be easy to see that her feelings have nothing to do with your situation.

You’ve also added a reason why she doesn’t get the idea of being unable to afford something. Her point of view is completely irrelevant.

Val123's avatar

@Jeruba I guess that….for a moment I thought maybe I WAS thinking the wrong way. Maybe the fact that I don’t make my husband the center of my universe, and don’t pamper him and cater to his every need (which is basically her philosophy) means…I’m not a good wife! Oh well. Hubby can just deal with it! :)

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