Military lesson: Your family is where you are
Dear Annie: I identified with the military family who was expected to go to their parents’ homes for the holidays. It could have been written by me years ago. We played that game out of a sense of duty when we were first married. It was expected, and we obliged, even though we didn’t want to.
My husband is closer to my family than he is to his own. He was in the military for 22 years, and we learned something about ourselves. We did not need a big, huge family gathering to make holidays special; we found our family in the military.
Military friends become your family. We shared many holidays with sailors who did not have family around and didn’t go home. We learned that this was really what was important — sharing with others.
Thankfully, we discovered later, after my husband retired, that we were very lucky not to live near his family. My mom would come and visit us, and we even took her on vacations to the East Coast with us. Years later, those trips were her most treasured memories. Our daughters adored their grandma.
My husband’s family made absolutely no effort to get anywhere near us, even when we were stationed five hours from them. We were expected to go see them, but they never reciprocated by getting to know our daughters.
My advice from a military wife is to learn a very valuable lesson: Your family is where you are, and if others want to join you, wonderful. But make your own memories for your family. And, most importantly, do not feel even one bit of guilt. — Retired Navy in Washington State
Dear Retired Navy: You are right that family is where you are and that sharing with people who appreciate it is very rewarding. I’m sorry your daughters did not get an opportunity to grow close to your husband’s parents, but it is good that your mother participated in their upbringing. I hope you will continue to provide a welcome home with open arms to your in-laws, and maybe, before it’s too late, they will join you for a holiday. Thank you for sharing your experiences and observations.
Dear Annie: My husband has control issues. He is aware that he has them, and he really tries hard to keep them in check.
We are finally at a place in our marriage where I can make decisions about our home, such as interior decorating and small remodeling jobs, and act on them, and it feels wonderful! I have a design and merchandising degree, and I am the one who manages the home while he works in an office most days, so it makes sense to both of us for me to be “in charge” of these things.
I do small projects maybe two or three times a year. These are not expensive or overwhelming. For example, buying a new couch (not the one he enjoys sitting on; I’m leaving that one alone) and selling the old one for just a bit less than the new one cost. However, he gets super grumpy, testy and short-tempered when I’m planning and executing a change –any change! I am good at keeping to our budget, and he has always liked the changes I’ve made once they’re finished.
What can I say to him to remind him (kindly) that we have both agreed to let me go with my design choices and that he should try to at least be nice during the process? — Tired of Mr. Control
Dear Tired: The good news is that you are both aware of his control issues. Congratulations on working together and communicating what is important to each of you in the marriage. Next time he starts to get grumpy or short-tempered, call him out on it. Try calmly talking to him about his behavior and how his words are making you feel. There’s always the chance that he doesn’t realize that his knee-jerk complaints about anything new are really wearing you down, and he might be willing to change.
(Lane is a columnist with Creators Syndicate.)