Thanksgiving feeds one family’s stress

A call out from Ft. Leonard Wood for some support on the upcoming holidays via the Guidon, and a response from advice columnists, Shaun and Pamela Collins

box with question marksSeason’s holidays are upon us and the stress levels are simply up. For their take on some of what is complex when families, and our expectations come together, here is what He Said and She Said when this question was sent in:

We recently invited my wife’s Family to come to our house this year for Thanksgiving. It is something we have done before and we often rotate it between going to her Family in Iowa, inviting Family to our home, or going to my Family in Illinois. It’s sort of a tradition.

This year, however, we were thrown a curve ball.

My wife called her brother only to find out that he is incarcerated. He was sent to prison in June for dealing methamphetamine and no one in her Family had told my wife. Now, my wife feels betrayed by her own Family since they all seemed to know about this since last December. Right now, my wife doesn’t even want to talk about it, much less think of any holiday plans.

I would like to get her talking to at least her mom again, but how do I bridge that gap? Any ideas?

Shaun Collins responds call for help ahead of American Thanksgiving

Shaun M. Collins

HE SAID:  I suspect her reaction has some tie to why no one in the Family wanted to tell her about the situation.

The fact that she refuses to talk about it, talk to her Family and seems to think that by doing so, it will somehow go away may indicate that they know something about her personality that you have yet to discover.

I think you should engage in some honest and courageous communication with her – remind her that it won’t just go away and that she needs to take a look in the mirror and see if she can identify why her Family may have been reluctant to give her the bad news. If she cannot find any such reason, she at least needs to address her feeling of betrayal with her Family — maybe the rest of the story can alleviate some of her feelings and help her understand where they were coming from in their decision.

If she refuses to talk to them, I doubt she will host them for a holiday of thanks; so she needs to make some decisions pretty quickly in order to call off the plans or engage in some healing before everyone shows up and it all comes out sideways because she is forced to deal with all of them and the issue at one time. Understand you cannot force her to talk to her Family and if she refuses, you need to show her love, respect and support; maybe she needs some time to talk to them, but she does need to talk to you as her partner in life.

Pam Collins

Pam Collins

SHE SAID:  As much as you would like to step in and fix this, this is not your gap, it’s your wife’s and her mother who need to decide when and if they will work this issue out.

Families of origin have their own issues and baggage and I imagine that your mother-in-law had her own reasons for not telling your wife about her brother. Maybe you could start there.

I am sure your wife knows, or at least suspects, why her mother would not tell her that her brother was in jail.  If your wife absolutely refuses to talk about it, you really have no choice but to leave it alone until she is ready to act or at least talk to you. In the meantime, try to see what options are available for the holidays.

In 2013, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on November 28.  Read about the holiday and it’s origins in this Farmer’s Almanac online entry.

More on the  menu for a day of thanks next week!



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