Dear Carolyn: Should there be expectations about taking vacations/trips with other family members? We have two issues: 1. We have three kids, including teenagers, and my brother and wife have two kids. The younger is 6. My wife and I find it hard to plan something other than a cruise, beach or all-inclusive that can capture all the kids' attention and make everyone happy. Some trips we want to go on don't seem as appropriate for young kids — hiking, say — and sometimes their little ones have held us back. They've whined or not wanted to walk when we've done some things that involve lots of walking.
2. My sister-in-law can be moody and snap sometimes, occasionally making things uncomfortable, especially with my wife. They are friends, but my wife sometimes has to walk on eggshells to not say the wrong thing. Who wants that on vacation?
We'd like to travel with them occasionally — to the aforementioned beach, etc. — but I feel like if we take a vacation on our own we'd be excluding them.
— Traveling With Family
Traveling With Family: That last sentence mystifies me.
Plan your own vacations when you want to, and plan a suitable combined vacation with this other family when you want to.
If they freak out at your planning your own vacations as you see fit, then let them. Bowing to unreasonable demands because someone will make you pay emotionally if you don’t — sisters can use the abuser playbook, too — is not a healthy option, and you and your wife need to stop treating it as one.
Dear Carolyn: I terminated a pregnancy recently due to medical reasons. It was a planned pregnancy with unplanned results. I need to talk about this. I know I should see a therapist, and maybe I'll call today, but my husband doesn't want to talk about it and I do. It's been four weeks today and the only thing he'll engage on is the medical bills (painfully low five figures with insurance), although it's still up to me to figure those out, too. I need engagement, let alone intimacy.
— Talking About Loss
Talking About Loss: I am so sorry for your loss.
I am also sorry you’re so alone in your grief, which might feel even harder to deal with because it’s not the result of “medical reasons” beyond your control.
So, yes, please call a therapist today. Also try Resolve.org , which offers online support and therefore has a much lower barrier to entry; you won’t have to wait till there’s an appointment available.
There will come a time when you want and need to address the fact that your husband is . . . unable? unwilling? ill-equipped? to be your partner as you grieve. Finding a healthy emotional dynamic when things go wrong is as essential to your family planning as insurance and finances and health and whether and when to try again. But the more immediate issue is for you to find the support you need to heal. As your strength returns, clarity likely will, too.