Dear Annie: My two sisters and I were out running errands one day when my youngest sister announced that we as a family should no longer exchange Christmas gifts because it’s too hard to figure out what to buy everyone. She said that we all either have what we want, or what we need, at our ages.
We celebrate Christmas at her house because she has children, so it’s easier. I mentioned that we should then forgo birthdays for the same reason. “Oh no,” she says, “birthdays are only once a year.” The last I checked, so is Christmas. Am I missing something? — Bah-Humbugged
Dear Bah-Humbugged: Your sister gets low marks for consistency in her logic, but her sentiment is a good one. People often overemphasize gifts around the holidays, when the real focus should be on family. I’m also guessing that, since you mentioned she has children, the holidays are a particularly hectic time for her. Forgoing Christmas shopping probably saves her a whole lot of time and energy.
I would honor your sister’s wishes. Take the time and money you usually spend shopping and put it toward planning some fun activities you can do as a family with your sisters, nieces and nephews.
Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 18 years. When we first met, it was love at first sight. We got married and bought a house together and stayed at that house for eight years.
However, my father-in-law approached us and said that he wanted his daughter to live closer to him, and he wanted us to move. I politely told him that my family of four is fine where we are, but he was relentless until I gave in. He told us that he would help us out, and he insisted on giving my wife her inheritance ahead of time. This whole thing makes me upset because I went from a house that I owned together with my wife to not owning a house.
I try to look past this, but once I look past it, my in-laws pull specific stunts that I don’t agree with, such as allowing my 12-year-old son to drive a car. There are many other stunts that they have pulled, such as yelling and screaming at both my wife and me (calling us animals and disrespectful) simply because we are disciplining our children.
I would like them to stay out of our business, but they refuse. They are constantly around, and my wife fully supports what they are doing.
What do I do? — Sleepless in Seattle
Dear Sleepless in Seattle: It is time for you to set some serious boundaries, but first, you need to make sure you are on the same page as your wife. A couples therapist can help you two communicate and establish some boundaries about the role of your in-laws in your lives and in the lives of your children.
Once you and your wife are able to sort this out, have her initiate a conversation that involves you, her and her parents. Politely but firmly communicate your boundaries — and after you communicate them, be ready to enforce them.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit Creators Publishing for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected].
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