March 28, 2011,
K.D. asks from Heber City, UT on March 26, 2011
Spending Time with Your Family
I'm just trying to get an idea of what is realistic. My husband says that I spend too much time with "my" family. He won't come with me to events with my parents or siblings, so I go to these events without him (but take our 2 kids with me).
Here's the scenario:
The kids and I spent Thanksgiving with my family. All of my brothers and sisters were in town for the event (with all their kids) and I hadn't seen any of them since the year before. My husband was invited too, but (as usual) did not come. The kids and I spent an evening with my parents around Christmas -- I think it was the 22nd or 23rd -- to get/give presents and enjoy a little time with them, I've seen my mom for about an hour once each month this year -- all related to her watching my daughter while I had meetings I had to attend for work. I am staying overnight at their house tonight because my husband is out of town -- and they had asked me to come down next weekend (with my sisters family) to spend some time for my father's birthday. (So I moved the whole thing up a week in order to spend time with my family when it was not possible to be spending time with my husband).
This summer is our family reunion. We have these every other year and it's a fun week where the cousins can all spend time together and it is lots of fun. My husband is mad because I want to use my vacation time for that instead of a vacation for "our" family. I told him I can work extra hours (my job is pretty flexible) so that we can also go on a week long vacation that is just "our" family, in addition to the family reunion. He says that I am unrealistic that I want to go to my family reunion and that I should want to spend more time with our nuclear family instead of the extended family.
So, how much time do you spend with your family? Your spouses family? Does your spouse come to your family events? Am I
being unrealistic or selfish in wanting to attend my family reunion?
Edit: There was a falling out -- I left him for 3 weeks last year because of intense anxiety related to his depression. I, of course, went to my parents house. He has decided that my parents would like to see us divorced (they do not), but no amount of talk from me will convince him of that. He is very welcome at my family events. However, he has not attended events with my family pretty consistently over the past 13 years of our marriage, so this really isn't something new -- the pressure to not go is.
So What Happened?™
Thanks for all of your responses. My husband was in therapy, he wasn't cured in the insurance proscribed 20 sessions, so he declared that therapy didn't work and quit going. :( I wish he was back in therapy, but unless they are willing to go it doesn't work. For now I am hanging on and trying to work with him myself (with support from my own therapist). This question was a reality check to see if I was being unreasonable. I had a feeling I wasn't, but it is good to see that there are so many of you that spend even more time with your families.
Some asked about his family -- I push him to go to his family activities, be involved with his family (they live the same distance away as my family), and go with him to all of his family activities. The short of it is, extended family is not very important to him because of all of his issues.
Thanks again for the reality check. I am aware that emotional abuse starts with isolation and destruction of support structures so I watch for it. He knows it too -- and I called him on it.
I talked with my family and everyone was actually relieved to shorten the reunion by a couple of days -- that should help with my hubby. :)
C.B. answers from Kansas City on March 27, 2011
hubby is insecure. do NOT let him take your family away from you. first off you don't have to apologize for spending time with loved ones. if you are not taking significant family time away from your family, then don't hesitate. second, he should be happy it's not more - i spend every sunday at my mom's house. or at least i have been the last couple months. not for any particular reason - because i love it. she loves seeing her grandson. we go to church together (with 4 generations of my family) and then i go to her house and have lunch or whatever. my husband has always "picked and choosed" when he goes to family functions - he doesn't go to every single game night or birthday party - but the rule is, yes, he goes to major holidays. i do NOT think you're being unreasonable. he wouldn't go to thanksgiving? that's ridiculous. i would have a major problem with that. YOU don't let him get to you. he is acting on his insecurities. tell him to get over it. i would absolutely NOT budge on this one. sorry.
3 moms found this helpful
L.D. answers from Las Vegas on March 27, 2011
It sounds like your husband has issues that he needs to address. Instead of dealing with whatever is making him feel insecure, he's transferring the focus onto you and your family.
It's nice that you have a close family. As someone who no longer has her parents and is not very close to my siblings (we all live too far away), I think that the bond that you have with your family is precious and should be nurtured.
It doesn't sound like you are spending a lot of time with them. Considering that there are 365 days in a year and you probably spend a maximum of 20 days with them each year (and not even full days), that leaves 345 days where you are devoted to your nuclear family. And family reunions are special occassions that don't occur very often. You shouldn't miss the opportunity to participate in that.
It just sounds like your husband is extra needy and has somethings to work out but has shifted his focus on you, probably because it is too uncomfortable for him to deal with his own demons, so to speak. I hope that you can coax him into going to see a counselor if at all possible. Even if you can do it under the disguise of it being marriage counseling because you need it, the deception would be worth getting him in there and sitting on the couch and talking to a professional that can help enlighten him about what the real issues are for him.
I hope that you are able to find a way to resolve this situation soon.
2 moms found this helpful
M.B. answers from St. Louis on March 27, 2011
Your parents arent going to be around forever. It doesnt sound like you spend "too much" time with them. I mean holidays? Why wouldnt you? He didnt go to Thanksgiving with you? Its not just for you, but its important that the kids see their family. I usually see my parents, sister, nephews every weekend. My husband doesnt always come, but when he has time he does. This would be a big issue for me. We only see his family less because they are over an hour away. It just sounds like your husband doesnt want to be around them for his own personal issues. Its not you and your kids fault and you shouldnt have to suffer.
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D.F. answers from Boston on March 27, 2011
My mom lives with me so I see her all the time. My family is not the warm and fuzzy type( my brothers) that I really do not want to spend time with them. But my husbands family gets together all the time. I love it and we attend everything. He loves and has so much fun with his brothers and sisters. I also have a great time and so do the kids.
I would go to the reunion because isn't this is what life is about, spending time with people you love and love you. When my mom did not live with me I would go see her at least 3 to 4 times a week!. We also went to see them at least once a weekend as a whole family. My dad passed away 13 years ago and I miss him like it happened yesterday. I am so happy I spent the time I did with him.
Its to bad your husband is missing out on family time like this. Its so good for the kids. I would never not go because my husband could not get over how he feels about them. Its a real loss for him.
I would go and ask him again to come and spend the time to make great memories.
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J.K. answers from Missoula on March 28, 2011
I decided early on in our marriage that if there was something I really wanted to go to and hubby didn't want to attend, I would just go anyway and let him deal with it. It is kinda annoying to have to explain to everyone that your husband has decided he'd rather stay home alone than visit with family, but that's his choice. My family is spread out so a family visit involves more than just a trip across town, but we still manage to spend time together and talk on the phone all the time. His family gets along great when they are together, but they just don't have the need to communicate in between gatherings. It's just a different way of looking at family and I've learned to live with it. I guess the good thing is that he has never tried to prevent me from going alone which sounds like is happening in your case. It probably didn't help that you went "home" when things were rocky in your marriage, but if you always give in to his wishes, you won't have anyone at "home" who will be willing to be there for you.
1 mom found this helpful
E.K. answers from Minneapolis on March 27, 2011
Well, I can tell you what we do but I have no idea if it is too little time-just enough time-or too much time. It works for us and probably wouldn't be right for 90% of people out there.
I talk to my parents almost everyday. My husband talks to his dad most days and his mom (divorced) maybe every other day. We both call our siblings once a week.
Our families all live within 20 minutes of us. So splitting up holidays is easy though I am sure they would prefer not to have to share us at all. Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and Christmas an Easter are all spent 100% w/family away from our own home. Halloween I host at my house for whoever wants to stop in and/or go trick-or-treating. My family celebrates St Pat's together every year.
4th of July we go up north and spent a long day at the old family farm-A sort of annual reunion. Every June, we go to my husband's maternal family reunion and maybe every 3-5 years go to his paternal family's reunion. We also have one weekend every summer that is reserved for his a lake cabin large group slumber party with his side. There is one weekend every spring that my mom and sis and I go on a girls' stay-cation. Our kids are in sports and some grandparent or aunt or uncle attends almost every game. They are also there for school music or art shows and scout events.
We probably have dinner with his mom once a month; same with my parents. I maybe meet my sis out 4 times a year. He visits his dad maybe once a month (I do not usually go with). And then there are just the completely random, spontaneous opportunities to get together w/my or his family -- We never turn one down.
In other words, our life revolves around family and we define family not just as "us 4" but much more broadly. When the family you have is as good as ours, you really ENJOY spending time with them. Though we also get PLENTY of date nites and couples' outings because the grandparents are at our disposal as overnight baby sitters.
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B.O. answers from Portland on March 26, 2011
Well, it sounds like he is trying to isolate you. From your previous posts, it sounds like it has a connection to his separation from the church. I am wondering, what does he do on the holidays when you are with family? Does he go see his family, or has he been ex-communicated from them? Why wouldn't he go with you to yours? Are they accepting of his presence? It is unreasonable for him to believe that you should abandon your family as well. I am sure he knew when you married that you would remain LDS, and from what I understand of the faith, it is very family-orientated. But, on the other hand, if your family shuns him in any way then I think you knew that going into the marriage as well, and that would be hard to deal with. Without the details the answer to your questions can only be vague. I hope that there is counseling in place for both of you since your last post.
But to answer you as directly and succinctly as possible, you are NOT being unrealistic or selfish in wanting to attend your family reunion. Do not let your husband sever your ties with your own family. They are important to you, and you have the right to spend time with them during special occasions and reunions, and even just for no reason if you wish.
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M.A. answers from Denver on March 28, 2011
Really, this just sounds like your hubby doesn't deal well with extended family. To answer your question -
We spend about an evening a month with my dad & close cousins (usually around 4 or 5 hours for dinner, etc)
My MIL has a family 'game day' once a month (drop in, stay as long as you want)
When we were able to visit my mom (12 hour drive) we would go about every three months for a week
I talk an extended amount (usually 2 hours or more) with another close cousin at least twice a week
About once a month my best friend (who is like a sister) comes down & visits for 5 or 6 hours
We also do random things together - dog park dates, shopping, dinner or even just getting coffee
It sounds like all I do is spend time with family! ;D I don't, really. DH has less desire to spend time with his family than I do - but it's a cultural difference mostly. Either way, don't let him pressure you into *not* going. It's YOUR family - they are YOUR support. If he doesn't want to go, fine. Otherwise, tell him that your family connections are important to you and you don't intend to stop.
1 mom found this helpful
J.M. answers from Boston on March 27, 2011
Doesn't sound like too much time at all, esp holidays, we all have to suck it up and be w spouse's family. My husband always comes and I to his events. He sounds quite introverted and like he is avoiding your fam. Is there a compromise??
G.B. answers from Oklahoma City on March 28, 2011
Different perspective here.
Let's say he's not being emotionally abusive and is reacting to his mental health issues. He is not socializing himself. He stays at home and doesn't go a lot of places. I have generalized anxiety and have BIG issues traveling and going to other places to visit. I can go anywhere with my husband now, but I have to plan the trip so I know how many miles to the next town, what to expect on the road such as being out in the boonies away from civilization...my dad died in the Arbuckle Wilderness in Davis Oklahoma and I know that plays a huge part in my anxiety.
I used to enjoy traveling. I would get in my car and drive about 3 hours away to go stay a weekend with a friend just on a whim. I would crank the windows down and put Alabama in the 8-track, hey, it was an older caddy and very comfortable...lol. I could not do that now without at least 1 adult in the car to call 9-1-1 in case I had a panic attack or got anxious. He may be having an honest mental health issue here.
He sits at home the entire time you are gone and pouts about how you chose your family over him. He may not mentally be able to go and wants you to stay with him instead. He obviously needs to get over this.
The only way he will get back to a more normal person is to deal with his issues through having a therapist who specializes in anxiety and depression or he may be albe to just use the services of a case manager, they will help him set goals for himself and monitor his progress but do not do the "sit in the chair and talk for 50 minutes" type therapy.
I feel for you. I have a husband who is an introvert and has to have his alone time every day. One of our therapists, we have gone several times throughout our nearly 20 years together, said he was the perfect hermit. He could live on the side of a mountain, have no contact with other humans as long as he had the internet and TV. The once a year trip to town for supplies should give him the perfect amount of social interaction, if someone tipped their hat and said hello.
It can be hard for two people with different types social interaction personalities to meet on common ground. He needs to let you have your family time. He needs to go with you for at least the family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, perhaps Easter. Those are huge family events.
How about inviting the family to your house next get together? A huge family Easter Egg Hunt just might be a lot of fun planning. Every one can bring a dozen filled eggs and their own baskets. You can hide the eggs for little ones first then the bigger kids later. It could be a fun filled day in the park and everyone bring pot luck to eat.
I can remember as a child going about one weekend a month to the South Eastern part of Oklahoma to visit relatives. My dad was next to the baby of 14 kids, 11 grew to adulthood. I have 47 first cousins and they all got married and had about 3-7 kids each. I am next to the baby of the nieces and nephews. I have hundreds and hundreds of relatives alive today. We have a family reunion in Oklahoma every few years and I haven't been able to travel that distance in a while. But I am friends with so many of my relatives on Facebook and am able to keep up with their lives that way.
Good luck with your travels and vacation plans. Maybe try planning some special weekends with just your family. Some short road trips, and see if his focus on being neglected changes some. When we visited Provo and SLC we had so much fun going through Vernal seeing the Dinosour excavations and the museum. You have so much to see and do in your area with Arches, Vernal, the Golden Spike museum up in Ogden, Bryce Canyons, so much diversity in one state. Plus you have so many other places within a days drive in other states. Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Pikes Peak, and more.
Here's a link to some activities in Utah to do with families.
I don't go to church anymore but my husband wants us to. I find I still need that spiritual interaction and feel pretty empty inside. I want to go to a different church but hubby won't even consider it. Some day I probably will find another church home that I can go to on my own. Don't let go of Family Home Evening. It doesn't have to be focused on lessons and singing primary songs. It can be about making cookies and just loving each other.
G.S. answers from New York on March 27, 2011
Being with family on ocassion is quite healthy especially if you all get along. I love being with my family it's very therapeutic, since you get to socialize with adults and more so the people you love.
You didn't bring up your husbands side of the family. Are they around? Do you get a chance to see them? Maybe he's a bit envious about the tight nit family you have. His depression is not a help either. It would do him a lot of good if he got his "tush" up and went along for the fun.
I live overseas, and only see my family once a year during the summer. I've been very lucky to have moved close to my husbands side of the family so we get together as much as you do with yours. I enjoy it, and god knows it's a relief to be with them. Being stuck at home with the kids day in and out can be tiring. Once we get together with adults we share our stories and kid around about everything. In any event, I wouldn't stop doing what you do. Enjoy your life and time with your loved ones.
K.H. answers from Phoenix on March 26, 2011
Hi. Well, I think my first response is why doesn't he go to any of these things with you? Was there some kind of "falling out"?
It's definitely important to spend time with your husband and kids. In the same token, if he's not available for whatever reason, what's wrong with spending that time with other members of the family. I think that's excellent for the kids to be around other relatives and just enjoying being social.
I can't say I have much real experience in this area. I did have a crazy falling out with my mother in law. It was sad cause we were actually really close. Bottom line is I still realize that's my husbands mom and no matter what, I still need to try and spend time with her. If nothing else, to make him feel good and show him I care for his feelings.
Hope this helps in some way.... ;-)
P.G. answers from Dallas on March 27, 2011
Sounds like normal time. Do you all spend time with his family at all? Does HE like to spend time with his family? If his family relationship situation isn't great, it may be hard for him to really understand family closeness beyond his own nuclear family. Keep inviting him, and if your family can reinforce him as a part of the family, that might help too. If you are bringing your children to the reunion, it's not YOU with your family.
Is he in therapy? That may help him build confidence in his nuclear family and break down his jealousy of your relationship with your family. I think he needs some help. It's a little sad.
L.B. answers from Provo on March 28, 2011
What you outlined is a very reasonable extended family schedule - enough to maintain relationships without being overbearing. You should be doing the same, if possible, with his extended family. If you are treating both extended families equally, to the extent possible (of course, distance, death, difficult relationships, etc. may cloud that picture), then he is out of line in refusing to allow you to attend these events and in refusing to develop relationships with your family.