My husband’s been working on a "hobby" daily for 18 years, restoring an airplane in our garage.
He’s been using all our money on it, ignoring me and the grandkids, and only comes into the house for food.
I don’t see him until sundown. I have to schedule a day to be with him, and he complains that it’s “setting him back a day.”
He doesn’t see his grandkids (even the ten-year-old’s resentful). He grouches at his own kids when they visit, and grouches at me over my feelings about this "hobby.”
We’re now retired and I’m spending my last good years alone.
We don’t go places often as everything has to revolve around his schedule with the airplane.
Eighteen years later this has become his life’s work, not a hobby.
He hasn’t “retired.” There’s little chance of being able to change his focus, so arguing about it is fruitless.
Change your own focus.
Recognize that you’re not “alone” but “on your own,” which means you can choose how to spend your time.
See your grandkids, see friends, join a film club, a walking group, etc.
You’re entitled to some of the money you have as a couple, through savings if any, pensions, etc.
If he won’t give you access to it, call a lawyer and/or accountant for advice.
This is your life, too.
It’s a year since my daughter-in-law (age 41) spoke with me. She didn’t invite me last Christmas. I was deeply shocked and hurt.
I offered to drive the hour and a half to meet her at a neutral place to talk things over. My son said she wouldn’t. He’s upset by this situation.
They have a four-year-old daughter. He brings her to visit me every month.
My DIL has been working on her Ph.D. thesis for eight years. Since the fourth year she’s been predicting she’ll be finished “soon.”
She rejects my son’s pleas to give up the thesis and get a job for which she’s already highly qualified.
My son’s father and I both have Ph.D. degrees, as do several other members of my family.
Since a year has passed, my son thinks she’s embarrassed to see me.
I fear she’ll refuse Christmas again. This hurts me deeply because I love my granddaughter and son and really missed being with them all last Christmas.
On the Outs
A year, and you haven’t just driven the 90 minutes to see her and tried to make amends about whatever’s bothering her about you?
From the details you’ve described, your DIL is obviously “stuck” in her PhD pursuit.
Perhaps, with your family’s own pride in several having achieved this high accomplishment, she feels she’s failing at it.
Or, easily may feel intimidated by it.
The more important issue to you, however, is the child she’s produced - your granddaughter - not her degrees.
If she were my DIL, I’d go see her, and say how much she, her husband, and daughter mean to me.
I’d say I’m proud of who she is and what she’s already achieved, and that her PhD goal is admirable but doesn’t define her as a person.
And I’d say that if this Christmas looms too busy for her, then I’ll host it at my place or bring the main food prepared, or cook at her place.
I’d stress that being together matters most to show our support for all within the family.
Worth a try… if you mean it.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the grandmother who reported to child protection services about a child who isn't being abused or neglected (August 21):
“For parents dealing with such false child abuse claims: Record any ongoing interactions and harassment from the accuser. Text or email so there’s a paper trail. Keep a record of the child’s school, teachers' and aids' names, all attendance records, and notes from parent/teacher meetings to provide to the police or child protection workers.
“Record all medical treatment and therapy sessions.
“Don’t give any information about your son to family members or friends of the accuser. Any information can be distorted.
“Have a lawyer present at all in-person meetings between the child, the parents, and grandparents, as a formal witness (worth the cost).
“I’m a mandatory child abuse reporter, and nothing in the letter is concerning. I’ve known people who’ve been falsely accused of abuse and it causes so much stress and anxiety and fear.”
Tip of the day:
If your partner’s “hobby” sidelines the marriage, you’re free to create your own lifestyle needs.