Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My grandmother has had a long illness, and yesterday the nurse determined she likely only has a couple of weeks left. When my mom called last night to let me know, I was upset and called my husband. He asked when I could go see them, and I said, “I don’t know – Mom says evenings aren’t good, so I’ll probably go by this weekend.”
This seemed to anger my husband; he said I should call my grandparents myself and shouldn’t wait for my mom’s approval. I tried to explain that it makes sense for Mom to run interference and make sure there aren’t too many visitors at once. My husband was adamant and only calmed down when I agreed to chat with my grandfather the next day.
Honestly, I’m just tired and sad, and I don’t want to bother my grandparents at such a time. I know my husband is coming from a place of love, but I can’t seem to find the right words to say, “Please let me and my side of the family grieve our own way.” It feels like a typical situation where my husband wants to fix something, and all I want is be heard and comforted while I handle it myself.
Losing a Loved One
I’m sorry about your grandmother.
If you’re up to it, please tell your husband that his strong opinions, which you take as well-meaning, aren’t helpful to you right now. Then use your own perfectly right words: “Please let me and my side of the family grieve our own way.”
If you don’t think you have this conversation in you, then just get yourself through this difficult time as you see fit, even if it means cutting your husband temporarily out of the loop.
This only postpones the conversation, though, till you feel strong enough to have it. To that end, please get into counseling (solo to start) with a reputable therapist, to help you set and maintain boundaries.
Your husband is all over your decision-making process, and feeling-feeling process, in a way no spouse has any right to be, and you’re obviously not comfortable enough with your own sense of boundaries to know when and how to tell him to step back.
This is something you can work on and ultimately repair, but it’ll take time and, judging only from your letter, some outside guidance, so it’s OK to shelve it till you’re more ready. Hang in there.
To: Loved One: Your husband shouldn’t be hounding you like this but, as you say, it can come from a place of wishing to help.
When I was in a family-drama tizzy, being told not to visit someone, my boyfriend told me they wanted to see me and it was idiotic and why was I even thinking twice. He was right.
If your husband is generally doctrinaire, that’s a different conversation.
I see what you’re saying, but your boyfriend’s stance sounds like a one-off, Moonstruckian “Snap out of it” kind of thing, whereas this is this: “My husband … only calmed down when I agreed to chat with my grandfather.” That’s not only sustained pressure, but also a deep investment in someone else’s choices and feelings – plainly over the line.
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