Dear Annie: If I do something he does not like, he will try to retaliate or even the score in some way.
For instance, I do not want to do a particular act in the bedroom. It makes me super uncomfortable. No matter how many times I explain this, he says it’s his favorite thing and if I don’t do it, then it’s a deal breaker. So sometimes I suffer through it, but other times I flat-out refuse.
Well, the other day, I refused. Now he won’t kiss me. He says that since I won’t do that for him, kissing is off the table until I do it.
How is that fair? How can we navigate through this without calling it quits? I want to make him happy, but I also don’t want to do what he’s asking me to do. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. –Underperforming in Rhode Island
Dear Underperforming: What he is doing is not fair at all; in fact, it is cruel. Just because he doesn’t get his way, he threatens to stop kissing you? What a louse. It’s your body and your choice. He has no right to force you to do anything. I say it might be time to call it quits.
Dear Annie: I have some thoughts to share with “Avoiding Ex,” the man dodging his allegedly drama-creating ex, and any other divorced parents with grown children. Grow up, please, for the sake of your kids and grandkids. You are, after all , the parents who chose for your child’s family to look the way it does.
My parents split up when I was young, and I’ve spent the vast majority of my life navigating the holidays with divorced parents. They have always been amicable for my sake, which was such a gift. Even so, and though it’s been more than 30 years, I always dread this time of year.
There is so much pressure and expectation to juggle parents, family events, etc. No matter where I am on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and even though everyone lives within driving distance so I can see both sides of the family every holiday, I always feel like I’m letting people down. There is always a worry that I’m not being equitable with my time.
I thought adulthood would bring relief, but it has only gotten more complicated as I’ve gained in-laws, children and other loved ones who need to be added to the complicated holiday equation. It’s exhausting, even in the best of circumstances. The “Kids are resilient” line is so often used when parents divorce, to which I say, we had no choice but to find ways to live with the tension that comes from feeling pulled in multiple directions.
“Avoiding Ex’s” daughter is probably hoping to enjoy an amicable holiday with all the people she loves in one space. So here are the choices for “Avoiding Ex” (and I would say the same to his ex-wife): Either graciously accept Or politely decline her invitation with ZERO expectation that she will rearrange her schedule to find time to spend with your daughter’s invitation, check ALL your baggage and drama at her doorstep and enjoy the holidays with your child’s family –which includes both of her parents. you for the holidays.
Either way, you’re choosing to be an adult and likely giving your daughter the gift of a calm, expectation-free holiday season. My hunch is that it may end up being the best one your daughter can remember! –Hate Feeling Stuck in the Middle
Dear Hate Feeling Stuck in the Middle: Thank you for your letter. I’m hoping that your excellent suggestions will help navigate the holidays in the future –and also help to shed light on parents’ expectations of their children’s time commitments.
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