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Q. My mother-in-law insists that we spend every Christmas at her place, and my husband doesn't want to disappoint her. But I'd like to celebrate at our home. How can we break this stalemate?
Sallie M. Foley, M.S.W., a therapist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, answers:
A. Start by sitting down with your husband and making a list of what the holidays mean to each of you, whether it's being with certain loved ones, baking Grandma's ginger cookies or just feeling warm and contented. Discuss what you've written, and really listen to each other's point of view.
Once you've acknowledged that you see things differently -- and that neither of you is "right" or "wrong"-- you then can figure out how to celebrate Christmas in a way that satisfies you both. Perhaps you could alternate years between your house and your mother-in-law's.
Then he should tell his mom that you won't be at her house every Christmas -- making sure to add that this is his decision, not yours. If she reacts badly, simply restate your position respectfully, without being defensive. If you make an effort to include your mother-in-law in your life all year, she should come to accept your choice.
Do you have a marital problem that you just can't seem to resolve -- over money, sex, kids, work, the in-laws? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Although we can't answer questions personally, we'll choose selected letters each month for our guest therapist to answer.