I’m mid-30s, married to a woman I love, and we have two children.
My family’s always been close, my younger brother and I were taken everywhere my parents went, and all our vacations were with the whole family.
As a father of two daughters, I still enjoy day trips and vacations along with their grandparents, but my wife doesn’t like always being with my parents.
If I join them for an outing, she finds an excuse not to come. (She’s never rude in person.)
She does come along on the big holidays when my brother also joins with his wife and sons. We’ve travelled to different places en masse, and camped or rented a house.
The kids especially love being with their cousins, aunts and uncles, and their grandparents, too.
My parents can’t understand why my wife stays home from some get-togethers. I find it uncomfortable trying to explain that she just wants some alone time, but my mother feels hurt sometimes.
She’s always been very outgoing and has many friends who love her company. She’s a good sport whatever we do, very fit for her age, ready to try new things. Yet she sometimes feels rejected by her daughter-in-law.
What can I do to bring the two women I love closer?
In the Middle
Let your wife know that she is your No. 1 preferred companion.
Make sure you have time together, just the two of you, and some family time with just your daughters.
A happy, loving younger couple is what the grandparents should be pleased to see, and also understand your need for privacy.
Big vacations with extended family of three generations are great opportunities for learning family history, and sharing memorable times.
Since your wife goes along willingly, she also appreciates their value.
However, an outgoing, gregarious mother-in-law can be a daunting force (no matter how well-meaning) to your wife who’s a quieter person who needs alone time.
Love them both, and respect their differences. Don’t let this be talked up by either side.
Get out of the “middle” by not talking this up or worrying it into a bigger issue.
I’m a man, mid-50s. My mother died last year and my sister was the executor of the will.
While my brother, sister, and I were settling the will (which was taking a long time, but finally settled thanks to my wife), my wife had come home and got in an argument with my sister, whose side I took in the matter.
I later realized my wife was not at fault. My sister tends to be hyper-sensitive.
I probably totally destroyed my marital relationship!
I recently started my own business and was hoping my wife wouldn’t have to work so hard now.
But I don't know how to fix the situation. Or if it’s even possible.
It’s never too late to apologize, especially when you already believe that you were in the wrong.
Say so. Tell your wife that it was an intense and emotional time among you three siblings, while dealing with your mother’s will.
When she came home, you were still immersed with them and reacted to your sister’s sensitive nature. But you deeply regret doing so.
Tell your wife how much you appreciate her part in settling the will, and all the work she’s done.
Hopefully, she’ll forgive you. Even if that happens, you might suggest that, with the changes from your new business, and your mother’s death, couples’ counselling might help your relationship.
FEEDBACK Regarding dating a short man (May 24):
Reader – “Many men have no problem with taller women.
“This man already knew she was tall, since he contacted her.
“My wife’s my height and I have no concerns when she wears three to four inch heels.”
Reader #2 – “If her guy can't handle the high heels, he's the wrong guy for this tall girl.
“She should continue to wear high heels, not flats!
“Who decided that men have to be taller than their women? Grrr!”
Ellie – Agreed. I do NOT believe that a man must be taller.
And this guy had the self-assurance to contact a taller woman.
However, she was concerned about the height difference. That’s why she wrote me.
I advised that she give him a chance because she found him “nice, funny, respectful.”
I suggested she “try” wearing flats if that made her more comfortable. If not, then it was a shallow reason to reject him.
Tip of the day:
Extended family time is important but couple time is the bedrock of your relationship.