Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for seven years. He just turned 50 (I am 49). We have three children – one each from previous marriages and one together.
We also seriously dated in high school.
At the recent family dinner for my husband’s 50th birthday, I found out my sister-in-law has offered to “take” my husband to England as a birthday gift.
My husband’s family is from the UK and he is the only sibling to be born where we live in Canada.
My sister-in-law is married to a wealthy man and travels frequently – up to twice a year to the UK.
We are self-employed and struggle to pay the bills. My husband has said he has wanted to take me to England since we were teenagers.
I don’t know what to say. I can’t invite myself on his birthday trip because it was her offer and she is paying.
I am heartbroken. It is unlikely that we will ever be able to afford to go ourselves. The only trips we have ever taken have been motorcycle trips annually, about a six-hour ride from home. My sister-in-law knows I have never been abroad, and that my husband has been talking about taking me for a very long time.
I have asked myself over and over why she wants to “take” him rather than “send” us, especially since the trip is being planned for the month before I have MY 50th birthday.
Dear Upset: Let’s say your husband’s sister gives him a new motorcycle for his birthday. You greet this generosity by being heartbroken because you want one too.
I understand that this is sensitive, but there are two choices for how to react when your beloved receives something wonderful:
“Honey, I am so happy for you. I know you’ve wanted to take this trip for such a long time. What a special gift! I'll hold down the fort here. My happiness for you is my gift to you.”
OR: “I am heartbroken. I can’t believe your sister isn’t footing the bill for both of us to go; after all it is almost my birthday too!”
Your sister-in-law is likely not sending you both to England because she wants to see her family along with her brother.
You will feel better about all of this if you dig down deep and react with generosity.
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson’s memoir, “The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them” (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.