I’ve been with my wife for 27 years, we don’t have kids, but have been happy.
Over the last 2 years a combination of financial hardship, debt, health problems and emotional trauma have brought our marriage to the brink of collapse.
My wife’s family know about this. Recently my wife’s sister, who is quite wealthy owing to her own marriage, asked my wife to go on a family holiday with her, her family and her parents. I was not invited.
They’ve been away together before but only for a weekend and I’ve always been OK with this. However, this time I feel deeply uncomfortable.
This is not because I begrudge her a break, she needs one, or because I mistrust her. We discussed this and she feels she needs a little space, so I would therefore probably have stayed at home anyway.
What worries me is that I was clearly excluded from this arrangement from the beginning.
It may be of course that this will be a good thing for both of us, but I know my wife’s family quite well; I’ve always had a cordial relationship with her sister but of course we have never been close.
I know that had the positions been reversed my wife’s parents would have expected her sister to be invited.
I’m unsure of what to do: my options include doing nothing, which is what I’ve done so far and I certainly haven’t tried to stop my wife from going nor did I ask to be included in this.
I thought of contacting her sister to ask why I wasn’t. I can’t see any benefit in doing any of these things, but I feel that something is very wrong: it feels as if there is something going on that I don’t know about.
I’m very unhappy because I can’t see any circumstances in which this is appropriate. When my wife comes back, I want to be happy for her, but I don’t want my sister-in-law thinking that she can keep using her wealth to organise family gatherings that I’m excluded from and separating us whenever it suits her.
I feel this is driving an unnecessary wedge between us. Added to all our other problems this has cast a shadow over how I see my wife’s family and our already difficult time. I’m unsure of how to deal with this.
Sex and relationship expert Jessica Leoni: “You are right to be angry and I can see why this has cast a shadow over how you see your wife’s family. As you say, there is something ‘very wrong’ with this holiday.
You have been with your wife for 27 years. That is a long relationship by any standards. All marriages go through ups and downs - exacerbated by external factors such as money problems, ill health and debt, all of which you have experienced in the last two years. I do hope these problems are behind you because they will continue to put a strain on any marriage if they continue.
It is no surprise that you are both feeling a bit frazzled and in need of a holiday.
I don’t doubt that your sister-in-law has the best intentions in inviting your wife away with her and their parents. She can see that her sister is not in a good place and needs cheering up. Your wife has gone away with her in the past for a shorter break and you have raised no objection. I think you were right to raise no objections in the past. A weekend away is no big deal - we all do that without our partners. A full holiday is a completely different matter.
I really don’t think the problems here lie with your sister-in-law and you are right not to contact her. The problems lie much closer to home in your wife accepting the longer holiday offer - knowing full well the hurt this would cause you. This is the issue you need to address. Why is your wife is prepared to exclude you from the holidays her sister organises and pays for? She says she needs ‘a little space’ and clearly feels she would benefit from some time away from you. It really does feel that you are being shunted to one side and excluded. I think you need to have a heart-to-heart with your wife and see if you can get your marriage back on track. You have been together for almost 30 years - you don’t throw a relationship like that away without a lot of thought. You need to be honest with your wife about the feelings of resentment this holiday is prompting in you. It sounds to me that you could do with a break as well. I think your wife should ask her sister if you can come on the holiday, too. I suspect your wife won’t want to do this and would prefer to go on the holiday without you. But if she really loves you and wants to get the marriage back on track this is the least she can do. How she reacts to this crucial question will determine where you go from here and whether you can resolve this ‘wedge’ which is driving you apart. If your wife agrees to this and your sister-in-law is happy for you to come along, then use the break to relax and get the issues sorted in your marriage.
If you wife won’t ask her sister, then I think you really need to ask her how committed she is to the marriage and whether she sees a future away from you.
If your wife asks her sister but the sister would rather you didn’t go on the holiday, then you know exactly where you stand with her side of the family. Your wife should either not go on the holiday or go and tell her sister and their parents that she is committed to her marriage and they cannot exclude you in this way moving forward.
None of these options is easy but some tough discussions need to take place to resolve these issues because this holiday has exposed the deeper problems in your marriage which have been brewing for the last two years. You cannot go on as you are.”
Jessica is a relationship expert for the dating site IllicitEncounters.com
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