I must avoid holiday with my husband’s awful family
If you want to get out of the annual holiday in the US with your husband’s family, you must speak up now
All set: there will come a time when that American holiday works for you again, but it is not now. Meanwhile the older children might love to go and stay with their American family on their own
Q Every year my husband and our four-year-old son – and, now, another baby who is six-months-old – have to spend our summer holidays in Massachusetts, where my husband spent all his holidays as a kid, sailing, playing tennis and so on, and living the whole American dream. My husband is American and has two lovely kids, aged 12 and 14, from a previous marriage. And we all go together.
But his mum and dad, his brother, his brother’s wife and the general entourage who we stay with in the family home in Massachusetts are anything but lovely. The thing is, I feel like a spare part during the one holiday of the year we take as a family, having to fit in with his annoying family, and do everything their way. Not to mention the astronomic cost. It costs the best part of €4,000 just to get us all there. I feel we spend all year saving up for this holiday that I loathe and have already been dreading for months. Plus it feels as if he hasn’t had to make anywhere nearly as many compromises that I have made since getting married and having children together. Dee
A [Sniffs aggressively] There is a strong whiff of burning martyr coming off your letter, Dee, which isn’t to say that I don’t sympathise hugely with your predicament. But the point is, your poor husband may be none the wiser about your dismay about this annual trip to Massachusetts because, so far, you have gone along with it each year while resenting him for failing to realise that, deep down, Massachusetts with his extended family is not your bag. We can’t blame our other halves for all the things we do for them grudgingly, expecting them to know better. They can know only when we tell them, so start a new conversation that will be the beginning of a family tradition of your own.
This was clearly one of those tacit agreements made between husband and wife, the kind of thing one foolishly agrees to in perpetuity when drunk on love and without any concept of what it is to be married and raise a family. Because no doubt when you first went there, pre-marriage maybe, and certainly pre-children, it wasn’t so bad, right? Big mistake. But one easily made. I did the same thing with a holiday we used to love on Patmos, a Greek island that is nigh-on impossible to get to, and, with young kids, just woefully impractical. Each year I say, maybe next year. There will come a time when that holiday works for us again, but it is not now.
I’m sure your husband will understand and make the compromise. He has to.
Because those halcyon days are gone. He is no longer the child in his extended family, but the head of the one he has created with you. And part of that new role means allowing you to dictate at least part of what’s what on the summer holiday front. I propose several options, which I suggest you bring up over a glass of wine – not after two bottles – and some food. You need to have a really open and honest conversation with him about how you feel and what you would like to happen. Not when you are crazy, deranged and ready to explode the night before the flight, but in a calm, grown-up conciliatory fashion.