Does this make me a terrible person?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Does this make me a terrible person?
16
Tue, 06-25-2013 - 1:48pm

  After suffering much depression at Christmas last year (long story some of you already know), I had decided to go to AZ and spend THIS Christmas with my family I'm close to there (aunt & uncle, cousins, nieces, etc...). But, NOW, my oldest 2 DDs who live on opposite coasts are coming home, so, of course, I will stay put.  Now here's where my guilt feelings come in:

I have decided to go to AZ for Thanksgiving instead.  I've told dh as much as I'd love for him to go with me, I understand if he doesn't.  His 3 adult sons have nowhere else to go for the holidays, so he feels he needs to stay home for THEM.  Do you all think that at ages 20, 30 and 31 that a parent should feel this kind of obligation to their children? Granted, is oldest son IS mentally ill, so will never have anywhere else to go but his father's house, but SS30 lives 8 hours away and who knows if he WILL come home since he has no license and no car, so has to take the bus, and SS20 (hooray!) is joining the military, so may not be home.  I want to scream sometimes because they should have their own lives by now and dh should be free to make choices regarding himself and NOT feel so obligated to THEM.  I don't my children, but I know they'd rather be with their father's family anyway, so know it won't matter.  Last year, it was me and HIS kids at the holidays which it usually is and I was SO depressed.  He knew it, so is pretty ok with me leaving at Thanksgiving yet makes little comments that make me feel a bit selfish.  

My feeling is that dh probably had always hoped he'd find a woman who was as devoted to his children as he is.  Sorry...that woman is not me.  He says sometimes that if anything happens to him, his sons will have noone.  He knows I would move to AZ, as I was going to do after my divorce if anything were to happen to him which would leave his sons with noone.  (Their mother lives 5 hours away and is mentally ill, but doing better from what I've heard.)  I do not feel close to his kids at all and honestly, dh has nothing in common with them and gets depressed at how they've turned out.  

Anyway, my question is...does it make me a terrible person to do what I need to do in order to be happy and survive the holidays or am I not thinking enough of dh?  I think it would do him good to come with me and be part of me and my family and get away from his kids.  

Thanks.

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Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Tue, 06-25-2013 - 3:45pm

Hi, I'm not in a 2nd marriage but I saw your post on the main page and I do know your story from another board....so my opinion will not be from a 2nd marriage pov but from a "parent of adults" pov.

No it does not make you a terrible person. Maintaining your sanity is necessary for all of the aspects of your life including your marriage. So if going to AZ to be with family is what you need to do to avoid depression, or to just feel a sense of family, then its okay. I agree with you to encourage your dh to join you so he can feel a part of your extended family. I've never heard you talk about his extended family, does he have any? Is he close to them? Of course he's concerned about what his kids will do for the holiday, I'm sure if you felt like your dd's didn't have anyplace to go for the holidays you would be concerned about that too, so I don't think that's over the top. I would first try to find out IF they really care and want to have a family dinner. They may not even care but usually come home to Dad's to please HIM. If they're adamant that they want it then your dh will probably comply (which is not necessarily much different than you changing Xmas plans so you can spend a few hours with your dds) If they don't much care then I would probably try to arrange something for the oldest stepson--a relative, a family friend who would include him at their gathering, send him to his mother for the weekend---are any of those possibilities? The other 2 (without mental health issues) just tell them that you will not be in town and providing them with a meal so they should try to make plans with friends IF they care about doing a TG dinner.  

Trying to create traditions while honoring old ones, and having time with all the various relatives is an issue in many families, because whenever 2 people marry they are blending families, just not in the sense of joining 2 sets of kids. There usually has to be some give and take. My adult ds lives far away but comes home for some holidays; but that includes spending a lot of the time with his gf's family--her parents are divorced so its time with each parent separately which sometimes adds up to  more time than he spends with me and dh. Otoh, it allowed me to skip doing TG once because I knew that he had someplace that he could go (now he usually doesn't even come home for TG). There's no one right solution and it could vary from year to year. Keep talking with your dh about it until you can find the common ground.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Wed, 06-26-2013 - 8:43am
HI SO-- 1. No,of course you're not a terrible person 2. THIS is what concerns me more from your post: You're changing your xmas plans because your 2 DD's are coming back to your town at xmas. What if (it seems) they prefer to spend time with your exH and minimal with you----are you going to feel resentful that you altered YOUR plans in order to spend time with them------but then they are with exH and off with their friends the majority of the time.................and you're home alone/not with them....(after changing all of your plans so you CAN be home with them more?) Other thing that jumps out at me/related to this: What would have been happening with DH and the SS's if you had gone at xmas as originally planned? And so how would THAT have been handled? Would that handling of that somehow have made you less "terrible"? FWIW---over here, we've taken to planning a trip each year that starts about 1 or 2 days after Xmas-----my kids/his kids typically spend a day (or two) with us at xmas time.........but even though they'd have holiday from college....they'd make plans to go elsewhere etc.....and we'd just be sitting home staring at each other and left over xmas decorations. Sometimes we miss seeing them a bit because we've already made plans to go.....but basically now we say "we're leaving 12/27 for our trip to__________", so we need to make plans to see you BEFORE then................and we do. DOnt know if that helps, ....but maybe you can make a trip to Arizona with your DH starting 12/26 or 12/27, and do what I now do----the minimal decoration/etc for xmas---have his sons over on the day, since they have no place else to go.....see your kids whenever---hopefully some before hand and also on the day, since you're home for them...........then skip town. Arizona would be a great place to spend new years etc.....(just a thought :) ).
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Wed, 06-26-2013 - 1:35pm

  Thanks, Elc.  I do feel bad sometimes that dh feels SO responsible for his sons.  It's not fair and I do hope he goes with me.  As I said, his younger 2 might not even be around anyway.  So, time will tell.  The oldest has nowhere else to go as dh has no family here either.  Going to their mother's is a non-issue as none of them have licenses or cars.  Dh's parents and 3 of his sisters live 2 1/2 hours away, so we spend every Saturday after Thanksgiving and Christmas traveling there.  So, once again, I'm pulled more into a husband's family than my own.  He did go to AZ with me 3 years ago and met my family, so do hope he goes again.  I told him I understand if he doesn't, but I'll keep hoping. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Wed, 06-26-2013 - 1:58pm

  I like your way of thinking, Laurena, and it's a good idea, but dh's second son who lives 8 hours away will probably always come home at Christmas as he has a 5 year old son here.  I don't think he came home at Thanksgiving last year, but DID come home at Christmas.  I wish he wouldn't because with both his sons in our basement, there is no room for MY children as I've mentioned before.  Makes me mad.  And, because they aren't blendable, my DDs are more comfortable at their father's house.  My oldest DID mention maybe spending a night or two at a hotel, but, when I mentioned that to dh, he was not happy (THAT would cost money) and that my DD, if she stayed with us, would just have to deal.  I won't make her do that.  I WISH dh's sons had somewhere else to go.  sigh

I could tell when talking with DD29 (who lives in CA) and told her I had planned on going to AZ for Christmas that she would do whatever it took to make me stay.  We haven't seen each other in a year, so, how could I leave and miss the opportunity to see her?  I can't.  I also haven't seen DD27 since January and miss her as well.  They don't really have many friends left who live here, so most of their time is spend between their parents.  

At any rate, DD27 is getting married next year, so mentioned that while they're all home, we could spend a couple days going to bridal shops looking at bridesmaids' dresses.  She's having all her sisters, of course, plus 2 friends from college.  I wouldn't miss that for the world.  

I love your idea of leaving shortly after Christmas.  Sounds GREAT!  Taking a vacation is out of the question for us this year though as we need new carpet badly plus need to start saving for my DD's wedding as she is getting married on the east coast (October, 2014) and, not only do I feel an obligation to contribute to the cost of the wedding, but it will be costly just for me and dh to go to it.  I just really want to spend an actual holiday (as in family dinner) with my own family in AZ...those who I feel totally loved by and comfortable with.  I haven't seen them in over 2 years, so am very excited.  But, every time I bring it up, dh gets silent.  I think he thinks HE should always come first since he is my husband, but, in a second marriage, I don't feel that's always the case.  Sometimes, we will just go our separate ways...even it it's at the holidays.  Last year on Christmas Day, it was dh, all 3 of his sons AND his parents.  My MIL took "family pictures" (as in me, dh & his kids) and I wanted to cry.  That's not MY family.  I felt really strange...like I was living someone else's Christmas and got really depressed without my own kids there.  The only one I saw was DD21 who came over for 2 hours on Christmas Eve, then spent the rest of the time with her father and his family.  DD26 lives here, but she didn't come over at all.  :(  She spent both days with her boyfriend's family whom I think she has become closer to than her own family.  All in all, it was very depressing which is what drove my decision to leave this year.  I just wish dh didn't feel such a sense of obligation to his kids and would think of himself for once.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 06-27-2013 - 2:50pm

I don't think either of you are doing anything terrible.

Change is hard when a family has such traditions.  No one in my family has moved, so it almost makes it harder to change, because everyone is here.  We tried to change Thanksgiving one year and my grown kids were besides themselves.  "What?  We are not going to Grandmas!!!?"  Goodness sakes, my mom and dad live 20 minutes across town.  

I really don't see why your DH would need to stick around, considering the circumstances, for Thanksgiving.  I give him credit for wanting to be a good parent, but they DO have family and at their ages, I think it would okay if he went with you.  I hope he does.  

And if he doesn't, it could very possibly be a lesson learned.  God is in charge.  :)  

Serenity
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 06-27-2013 - 10:25pm

I can see why you would not want to miss being w/ your DDs at Christmas consideirng the time that you haven't seen your DD plus the wedding shopping.  I think you should go to be w/ your family since you haven't seen them in a long time either.  It's not like you wanted to exclude your DH--you invited him so it's up to him whether he goes or not.  I think you should ignore the little comments or just come out and tell him that you also miss being with your family & if his family is nearby, he gets to see them often.  He can't very well expect you never to see your family.  Now when you say that he's "obligated" to be with his kids--does he complain and act like it's an obligation or is that your interpretation?  Maybe he really wants to be with his kids like you want to be with yours.  It's good that youngest son is going to the  military--hopefully the experience will be good for him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Sat, 06-29-2013 - 9:32am

  The word "obligated" is how dh feels about his kids because he's "all they have".  None of them are married, so no in-laws, have no cars, licenses, or money to travel to their mother's, so he feels like he HAS to be here.

Not sure either of us will be going ANYWHERE at this point.  I lost my job yesterday due to corporate consolidation.  My boss sold his small accounting practice to a large midwest CPA firm and we were moving in with the other office in town yesterday.  We boxed up and I had all my stuff in my car ready to go.  The home office had emailed all of us on Thursday saying me and my boss were to stay behind to "hold down" the fort at our location and the other 3 employees were to go to the new location and get set up.  Right.  As soon as they were all gone, an HR person showed up (the home office is an another city an hour away), my boss called me into his office and they gave me my walking papers.  He said he went to bat for me, but in the end, corporate just didn't feel 2 full-time administrative assistants were needed at the other office and they already have one. I feel really misled as for the last several months, I've gone through training, learning their systems, etc...I feel my boss should have just let me go right after tax season instead of making me go through all the transitions preparing for the move and as far as me boxing up all my files, etc..  They were even in my car ready to go!  I knew this was a possibilty considering most of my jobs were done at the home office, so my jobs were taken away one by one.  Dh is being great...not letting me get down.  I admit, this could be my new door opening as I've hated tax season for years and my boss wasn't always appreciative of me, so hadn't been really happy at my job for quite a while.  I just fear at my age, I may have trouble finding a job.  I'd love to get my real estate license and do that, but dh won't support it as we really need a full-time paycheck from me.  His job isn't secure either, so if he were to lose HIS job, we'd be in real trouble. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Sat, 06-29-2013 - 9:41am
Im so sorry to hear about your job situation! Something good will come of this.........
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 06-29-2013 - 11:27am

I'm sorry about that too.  I hope you can find something quick.  I'd think that an admin job means that you could work in any type of business so I hope someone is hiring where you are.  I wonder if you could work in a real estate office and maybe take the classes for your license on the side while you have a job.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-04-2013
Thu, 07-04-2013 - 10:08am

Yes you are right on your part but you should also think about your family. Little compromises work sometime

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