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View Full Version : How would you have handled this family drama?


Dinsdale
01-02-2008, 02:26 PM
Let's imagine an entirely hypothetical situation :rolleyes:, where your family of 5 (2 adults 3 teens) has been invited to one of the adults' siblings on New Year's Day, to watch the alma mater of several family members play in a bowl game. Another sibling and their family was invited as well - would probably be approx. 15-18 people for afternoon snacks and dinner.

In the car 5 minutes into the 15-minute drive, 2 of your family members get into an argument over something pretty minor. The other 3 have no dog in this fight. Neither of the participants is willing to let it drop or give in, so it escalates to screaming, crying, swearing. The driver turns the car home to drop off one of the 2 participants, as well as to pick up the forgotten hostess gift.

During attempt # 2 to reach our destination, the remaining combatant attempts to engage the other 3 in a discussion of what had transpired. Those 3 are hesitant, primarily because they think their carmate was pretty much at least equally at fault, and were not eager to either lie and say that person was correct, or come out and tell them they were wrong on the way to a social gathering. When the person was unwilling to discuss it later, the car got turned around a 2d time, as the other 3 tried to explain their impression of/reaction to what had happened.

When the family gets home, they find the first person had left a note saying they went for a walk. The 2d arguer decides to step outside as well without saying where they are going or when they will be back.

So - at this point, what do you do? Do you call the hostess? If so, what do you say? Do any family members end up going to the party?

Just curious how you folks would have handled such a situation. Wouldn't have wanted to make it through an entire day of the new year without some kind of easily avoidable drama!

ASAKMOTSD
01-02-2008, 02:34 PM
If the one that disappeared was one of the teens, I would say that no one was going to leave the house until that person was located. Sorry - I have tried the "let them walk it off" deal before with pretty disastrous results.

Dinsdale
01-02-2008, 02:36 PM
If the one that disappeared was one of the teens, I would say that no one was going to leave the house until that person was located. Sorry - I have tried the "let them walk it off" deal before with pretty disastrous results.

First one will be 20 tomorrow. 2d was a parent.

Freudian Slit
01-02-2008, 02:39 PM
So...someone actually did the "turn the car around" thing?

Okay, you said that the driver turned the car around to drop one of the two participants off. I'm assuming that the driver was one of the people having the argument because otherwise, why not drop both of the arguers off? It also strikes that this person is really petty and kind of on a power trip. And then because no one can agree on that, everyone has to be taken home? I'm not respecting the driver at all right now.

Then again, I could be wrong. I'd like to know the actual details. What could possibly be so angst inducing that the car has to literally be turned around?

I think I'd probably call the hostess and tell her my family members are auditioning to be the next Osbournes/Hogans/Simmons family with their own reality TV show and are doing their damned best to find drama where they can.

TroubleAgain
01-02-2008, 02:41 PM
I'd say the three that behaved like adults should have gone to the party without the other two, assuming the two arguers left at home could be trusted to be out on their own, and assuming the three non-arguers hadn't had their mood completely ruined by the other two. If no one felt like partying, then all should stay home and apologize to the host/hostess.

Zebra
01-02-2008, 02:43 PM
If it was bad enough to turn the car around I would have left both of them the first time.

I would have just left the parent to deal the 19 year old and gone to the game.


Actually if it were my family they would have gone to the game so everyone could enjoy the fight.

fessie
01-02-2008, 02:43 PM
It seems unlikely that this is your family's first donnybrook. How does your family usually handle disputes? How would you like to see your kids work things out (assuming that the combatants were your children)?

I can imagine times when "Put smiles on your faces, full steam ahead" is the best approach, and times when it's important to stop everything until the problem has been resolved openly and calmly. I can't guess which scenario you were facing.

I'm not sure that "Go away until you can play nice" is giving you what you want.


eta

First one will be 20 tomorrow. 2d was a parent.

Ouch.

WhyNot
01-02-2008, 02:45 PM
I'm a pretty firm believer that, with a few exceptions, forcing people to go to family functions leads to everyone having a shitty time*. In such a situation, the first time we went back home (and it would nominally have been for the hostess gift, not because someone was being a jerk), there would be an announcement that there will be a 20 minute delay while everyone gets their shit together, and then whomever was in the car at the end of 20 minutes would get driven to the shindig. Anyone who cannot, for whatever reason, pull their act together and play nice for the remainder of the day can stay home or go for a walk or chop wood, for all I care.

And when we got to the party, no covering or explanations would be provided. "Where's Sue? Oh, she decided to stay home; you'll have to take it up with her."



*Note that this philosophy is not shared by all, and in fact I've pissed off a fair number of family members because I refuse to coerce my children into playing their proper roles in the Norman Rockwell dramafest. That's okay with me; it may not work for you.

fessie
01-02-2008, 02:47 PM
Neither of the participants is willing to let it drop or give in

Maybe you guys need a third option (or more)? That's pretty black-and-white, with a winner and a loser.

anu-la1979
01-02-2008, 02:55 PM
I would have made a beeline for the vino.

Actually, I would have dropped off the kid and refused to let the adult participant engage. You should have handed her a beer at the house when you turned the car around the first time. I'm not joking...anything to make the adult shut up. Chocolate, alcohol, cocoa puffs...everyone has something they're willing to stuff in their mouths.

Dung Beetle
01-02-2008, 02:59 PM
I'd say the three that behaved like adults should have gone to the party without the other two, assuming the two arguers left at home could be trusted to be out on their own, and assuming the three non-arguers hadn't had their mood completely ruined by the other two. If no one felt like partying, then all should stay home and apologize to the host/hostess.
I'm leaning towards this as well.

glee
01-02-2008, 03:03 PM
I would have got a taxi. :rolleyes:

NinetyWt
01-02-2008, 03:04 PM
I like WhyNot's answer, also TroubleAgain's.

I don't force teenagers to go to family functions. Sulking people are a drag. I say the same thing as WhyNot, "Where's Sam? Oh he decided he'd rather stay home." with nonchalance.

In a perfect world, I would have left the arguers at home and gone on to the party with the civil ones. What would likely have happened: I would have pressed on to the party and stayed huffy all afternoon.

Possible exception in this case - I would rather listen to 10 teenagers arguing rather than suffer through a football game. :p .

Sprockets
01-02-2008, 03:06 PM
I guess in this "hypothetical" situation any one of the people could have insisted on getting out of the car - and thus out of the situation - at any time. As for whether to go to the party, that would be each person's decision.

I suspect a lot of people endure this kind of "drama" during the new year. Happens whenever family and alcohol are in play at the same time.

Dinsdale
01-02-2008, 03:23 PM
So...someone actually did the "turn the car around" thing?

Not just once, but twice in one day! :p

You should have handed her a beer ...

Wait, you're assuming I was not the parent involved? What am I talking about, this is a hypothetical, right?

There is no way on earth any of you could possibly imagine how mind-bogglingly stupid the subject of the disagreement was. I'm not even sure how I could describe it...

I (dad) was driving. Wife was one of the disputants. Oldest daughter home from college was the other. Dad and other 2 kids so incredibly had no interest in the issue. None of us could believe the mom was making an issue of it - especially once we were in the car. And none of us could believe the daughter was insistent about digging in her heels at this point.

After we dropped off the kid and headed back, my wife wanted to "discuss" what had happened. Of course, to large extent she wanted us to say she was right and the kid was wrong. Which none of the 3 of us believed. I tried several ways to avoid a direct conversation. Didn't want to flat out lie and say, "You were right, hon." Nor did I want to say, "What on earth were you thinking?" But when she would not agree to at least let it wait until after the party, I decided if I was going to be anywhere near honest (which I generally try to do) the mood in the car wouldn't be what you want stepping into a party. Fortunately, at this point kids #2 and 3 decided to weigh in by informing mom exactly how unreasonable she was being. That really helped cool things off! :rolleyes:

And as expected, as diplomatic as I tried to be, I was accused of not being adequately "supportive."

Actually if it were my family they would have gone to the game so everyone could enjoy the fight.

Damn, I wanna come to your family's gatherings! :cool:

When we got home and daughter #1 and spouse were MIA, I called my sister to let her know we weren't coming. No, my family is not a stranger to disputes. And in the past, my wife has made up some kind of excuse or another. "Someone got sick" is probably popular. But I don't play that game. I just apologized, saying 2 of the family got into a huge disagreement on the way over, such that none of us was in any frame of mind that we could contribute to the gathering (paraphrase).

Would you have lied or told the truth?

Today I'm feeling kinda guilty, thinking that my sister went to the effort and expense of preparing to have us over, only to have 1/3 of the guestlist not show. But I don't think there is anything really to do at this point. She works a really wierd schedule and rarely checks her e-mail, so there is no easy way to just casually call her.

This a.m. my wife surprised me by saying she was surprised the rest of us hadn't gone after she stormed out. And said she had thought about going by herself. :eek:

Really, it never crossed my mind. The 3/4 of us at home were in no mood for a party. And I didn't want to predict my wife's reaction if we went without here.

Happy New Year!

Man, talk about just the thing to motivate me about going back to work this morning.

sandra_nz
01-02-2008, 03:27 PM
After we dropped off the kid and headed back, my wife wanted to "discuss" what had happened. Of course, to large extent she wanted us to say she was right and the kid was wrong. Which none of the 3 of us believed. I tried to avoid several ways to avoid a direct conversation.


I believe the best answer to your wife at this point would have been "Let's discuss this later - the rest of the family are expecting us and we don't want to let them down"

fessie
01-02-2008, 03:29 PM
I'm finding this really interesting in light of your earlier thread "Why won't you women just DROP IT!".

Is there some kind of pattern? One of those Mars/Venus things?

sandra_nz
01-02-2008, 03:34 PM
Just to add, at this point

When the family gets home, they find the first person had left a note saying they went for a walk. The 2d arguer decides to step outside as well without saying where they are going or when they will be back.

I would have got the other kids in the car and driven to the bowl game. No reason you should all miss out just because your wife and daughter are both acting like 15 year olds.

ZipperJJ
01-02-2008, 03:36 PM
If I was one of the 2 kids who got hosed out of going to a family party because Mom and Older Sister were being bitchy, I'd be really mad.

If I was your sister I'd be pretty peeved too. But that's a personal thing.

Honestly, if I was The Driver, I'd have been ok with Mom and Daughter being gone from the house because I know the value of a good "time out" session. I wouldn't have sat around and waited for or looked for them. No way would I have ruined my or my kids' or my sister's afternoon by making sure 2 adults (mom and daughter) felt hunky-dory.

Freudian Slit
01-02-2008, 03:47 PM
Seriously...will you tell us what the argument is about? I have to know now!

A Priori Tea
01-02-2008, 04:02 PM
I am glad that there are people brave and patient enough to deal with that sort of situation with tact and an eye for defusing the conflict. I am not one of them. My solution is in no way ideal, but you asked for opinions! ;)

Presuming I was the driver, I probably would have told my spouse "Look, you're not going to like my answer to this. If you keep pressing me, I'll give it, but then you will be mad and I'm not going to apologize for it. Let's drop it and go on, shall we?" This is the part where the yelling normally starts. Presuming that we got as far as turning around again, I'd've left my spouse at home and started for the gathering a third time, with the understanding that I was going, and anybody else who went had damn well better be ready to leave this (the drama) at home.

If I might offer a piece of advice - if it was a pretty big deal that you stood your sister up, invite her and her family over for dinner sometime soon. That way you're offering to make amends for her inconvenience, and getting the social time that you missed because of drama. Bonus points if you can get your wife and daughter to tell humorous anecdotes about the argument that caused your absence with good will and giggles. :)

anu-la1979
01-02-2008, 04:04 PM
Well, from the way you talk about her she seems like a lovely, bright woman who did much better in school than you but is overly analytical and very very...talkey. I'm not saying that to be mean because I myself am very much like that though the yoga has been mellowing me out. So yeah, I knew immediately it was her and not you.

PS: they got flattened and I live in front of the Rose Parade so I went outside to cheer them on. The band looked stoned out of their gourds. I felt half-embarrassed because I remember them being quite good. Maybe they pulled it together for the game. I did woot! at some alumni on the street who gave me a responding woot.

Jodi
01-02-2008, 04:06 PM
I would have gone to the party because the sibling was expecting me. Obviously you can't control adults who are having tantrums, but I guess I don't think "Now we're just not in the mood to come" is a good enough reason to no-show to a small gathering you've already said you were going to, even if it's "only" a family one. But families are different; without being judgy, maybe that sort of last-minute "on second thought we're not coming" behavior is acceptable between you and your sibs and no one batted an eye. In my family, it would have been a big deal; there would have to be some serious sucking up on my part to get back in my sister's good graces, and vice versa if the roles were reversed. So I think you owe your sister an apology, even if it's only an e-mailed "hey, sorry 'bout that."

As far as your family . . . I think your wife was acting ridiculously, but there seems to be little value in telling her so and turning a fight between her and your daughter into a fight between her and you. Your daughter was probably acting ridiculously too, but my expectations for level-headedness are different in a 20 year old than in a 40or 50 something year old. Whether that's worth a fight with your wife is your call. :)

Dinsdale
01-02-2008, 04:14 PM
All right. Here goes.

I met my wife at UofI. My 3 sisters met their husbands at UofI. I think we have 5 1st cousins who recently graduated from or currently attend UofI, and my son was just accepted there (tho he is not sure between there or Purdue). So this was to watch the UofI screw up a Rose Bowl.

No one in my family cares at all about any team sport, and neither I nor my wife have any great loyalty to my alma mater. I can guarantee not one member of my family could have named a single player on either team. My BIL has a widescreen downstairs, but I figured I'd spend most of the time upstairs chatting with my sisters or anyone else who didn't care about football, maybe playing some ping pong. Lately I've really enjoyed talking to my nieces and nephews as the attend/complete college, get jobs.

My 2 BILs are pretty big fans, so earlier that morning we had suggested that everyone wear something orange and/or blue - basically to give the host a small kick out of it. Hell, I would have been fine with someone wearing blue jeans, and saying they were blue.

I had been at UofI's last Rose Bowl debacle against UCLA 24 years ago, and jokingly said "Just so long as no one wears yellow or light blue. Those are the other team's colors." (Yes, that is how much of a fan I am! Isn't that lovely irony?) My eldest daughter had said she was going to wear her newest t-shirt, which was dark blue, and is from her college's marching band.

Flash forward to thge afternoon and we're getting ready. Not only is daughter #1 wearing the dark blue t-shirt, but she borrows an orange courdoroy shirt from her mom to wear over it. Right as we are getting out the door, my wife comments about the fact that my daughter's shirt has some light blue writing, collar and cuffs. Apparently she finds this objectionable, because - as I had said - light blue is one of the other team's colors.

So that's what my wife and her daughter are ostensibly screaming at each other about in the car on the way to a family gathering - the t-shirt my kid chose to wear, and told us she was going to wear that morning. A tee-shirt that is relatively new, well fitting, clean, and in good repair. (As with many family dynamics, I imagine it was about something other than - or at least in addition to - the t-shirt.)

I agree with those who say not to force the kids to go to various things. I've eased up in my attitude about such things over the years. I was just pleased my kids were all at least willing to go to a family gathering, and they all were reasonably groomed. And there are enough adults/cousins close in age that you can usually find something to do/someone to talk to for the couple of hours these thngs last. And the food is usually good!

Gotta duck out now. Enjoy a good laugh at my expense! :D

TroubleAgain
01-02-2008, 04:41 PM
Oh, good God. Poor Dinsdale and family. That has GOT to be one of the lamest excuses for a screaming fight between two adults that I've heard in many a year.

Hakuna Matata
01-02-2008, 04:48 PM
Oh, good God. Poor Dinsdale and family. That has GOT to be one of the lamest excuses for a screaming fight between two adults that I've heard in many a year.


I agree and I would tell my sister that the disagreement was over something bigger...like abortion or world peace or something...anything but the truth! If my brother told me that he didn't make it to my NY bash because of the real reason I would be pissed off if I wasn't before! :p

Good luck Dinsdale--you do realize this has all the markings of being turned around as 'your fault' since you brought up the subject to begin with!

I do hope overall that your wife apologized to the daughter, it really sounds like she was the one out of line. Your daughter is old enough to decide what to wear.

fessie
01-02-2008, 04:57 PM
Gosh. That doesn't make me feel like laughing in the least. I'm sorry you missed out on the fun.

No doubt your wife is a lovely person, but she just lost any points accrued from that earlier thread. Apparently she truly doesn't know when to drop it.

Good luck dealing with whatever is actually afoot.

treis
01-02-2008, 05:02 PM
I'd shoot myself for being in such a fucked up family.

Ok, that's a bit harsh and tongue in cheek, but that's some pretty crazy arguing going on. First of all, light blue and yellow are the colors of UCLA. I don't know how much you followed the game, but you might have noticed that the opposing team was wearing Red and Gold, because UofI played USC. You're wife got upset about something she apparently didn't have the slightest clue about. Then, to have that minor disagreement result in you actually turning around and going home is so far beyond my comprehension I don't know what to say about it.

eleanorigby
01-02-2008, 05:03 PM
:eek:


So your wife thinks that you had a UCLA mole in your house--that light blue gave it away, no? Um, I thought they played USC, not UCLA this year--but I am no football person (I bring it up because USC's colors are different). So, wife was wrong, wrong, wrong.....


Gah. That is the dumbest reason for a screaming fight I've ever heard. Then again, it makes me feel MUCH better for all the petty fights I've had--never had one that bad.

I would call and apologize to my sister. And I would take wife aside and ask just what all THAT was about, anyway....

Freudian Slit
01-02-2008, 05:15 PM
It's kind of a creepy reason for a fight. Your wife sounds majorly controlling to me.

Also, weren't you the poster who had that whole fiasco where your youngest may have been knotting together some rugs, and your wife felt incredibly hurt and betrayed by it? She seems high maintenance...

Giraffe
01-02-2008, 05:25 PM
So that's what my wife and her daughter are ostensibly screaming at each other about in the car on the way to a family gathering - the t-shirt my kid chose to wear, and told us she was going to wear that morning.Sweet Jesus. That's a crazy thing to fight about. Reminds me of my wife and mother-in-law before our wedding. :)

Honestly, I think you handled it fairly well. I'd have kept my opinion to myself until the wife cooled off and/or pushed me to chime in, at which point I'd ask her "did you really just get into a screaming match w. X over what color the letters on her t-shirt were?" If pushed, I might also ask whether or not she was in fact crazy. Later, in private, I'd probably ask why she got so upset and whether there's something bothering her about her relationship w. X that caused her to fly off the handle. If she flipped out in response to any of those questions, I'd table the discussion until she cools off but neither apologize nor validate her anger.

I'd have also gone to the party with any kids who still wanted to go, and the wife if she wanted to go. Wife has no right to be angry at you for going to a party without her.

MsWhatsit
01-02-2008, 05:29 PM
:eek:

I would call and apologize to my sister. And I would take wife aside and ask just what all THAT was about, anyway....

Pretty much this. I agree with Jodi that in my family, canceling on an event at the last minute like that for basically no reason at all would have been cause for serious bad feelings. Maybe your family is different, but I still think an apology is definitely in order.

Rubystreak
01-02-2008, 05:32 PM
The fight between your wife and daughter sounds like one I'd have gotten into with my mother when I was came from college. It was tough for my mom to handle the fact that, when I was away at school, I was functioning as an adult-- setting my own bedtime and wake-up time, wearing my hair how I wanted, eating what I wanted. You know, stuff all adults do out there in the world. Mom could not handle that she no longer could control all my life decisions, and we fought over the stupidest shit imaginable, often to quite extreme levels.

I think your wife is having some issues letting go of the power of being Mom. She can't tell her daughter what to wear anymore, and that pisses her off, so she's making a big issue out of petty things like t-shirt colors in an attempt to regain control. It's obvious who I'd side with in this situation. Your wife is being petty, and I'm really not sure how she could possibly justify it, though I would love to hear how she rationalized getting in a big fight about that topic. Care to share? I'd love insight into what my mom was thinking, since she passed away when I was 20, middle of my junior year of college, and we never really resolved the power issue.

Thus, I'm not sure how you'd address it, but it might be worth talking to your wife about how she's handling the kids turning into adults. I know how you hate talking about your feelings ;) , and you probably feel like this is a minefield just waiting for you to step into. However, stupid crap like this is bound to happen every time your daughter comes home if it's not dealt with, so hey, up to you.

Good luck, dude. I have no more insight beyond that.

Queen Bruin
01-02-2008, 05:40 PM
All right. Here goes.
*snip*
Gotta duck out now. Enjoy a good laugh at my expense! :D
I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you. Husband's dad has been an 'SC fan his whole life, and two of his cousins went there while we are both Bruins (if it makes you feel better I was cheering for UofI yesterday). This time of year is...interesting. Very screamy. Last year when we beat 'SC I think my husband dropped trou and mooned old Petey. Yesterday I retreated to my fortress of solitude.

Anyways, I commiserate.

Cervaise
01-02-2008, 06:27 PM
If I might offer a piece of advice - if it was a pretty big deal that you stood your sister up, invite her and her family over for dinner sometime soon. That way you're offering to make amends for her inconvenience, and getting the social time that you missed because of drama. Bonus points if you can get your wife and daughter to tell humorous anecdotes about the argument that caused your absence with good will and giggles.Or better yet, goad them into having the argument a second time, so your sister can see firsthand why it was necessary to bail out of the event. ;)

sugar and spice
01-02-2008, 06:42 PM
Or better yet, goad them into having the argument a second time, so your sister can see firsthand why it was necessary to bail out of the event. ;) unless of course his sister cancels at the last minute ...

fessie
01-02-2008, 06:47 PM
I wonder if Mrs. Dinsdale is going through perimenopause? Those hormones can really mess with you.

DiosaBellissima
01-02-2008, 06:51 PM
I would call and apologize to my sister. And I would take wife aside and ask just what all THAT was about, anyway....

Agreed completely. Your wife is either incredibly controlling to a fault or nuts. While your daughter perhaps should have not argued with her, what should Daughter have done? Walked around topless?

rocking chair
01-02-2008, 07:34 PM
ooookay... when i read your op, i figured on mom and daughter arguement clothes involved. i was thinking someone must be wearing 'britany" clothes (or not wearing in the case of britany styles), and mum objected. i was blindsided by your post explaining that it was small bits of colour related. that daughter was covered by not just one but 2 shirts. (i'm gonna bet she was also wearing the appr. unmentionables.)


i think it is your wife and daughter who owe sil and aunt an explaination and apology . there should be flowers and chocolate involved as well.

i do hope that things go better for y'all in the remaining days of 2008.

Ferret Herder
01-02-2008, 07:57 PM
Sweet Jesus. That's a crazy thing to fight about. Reminds me of my wife and mother-in-law before our wedding. :)
I agree with everything else you said, but I wanted to prod you for a story here. :)

madmonk28
01-02-2008, 08:18 PM
As a child of a family with some similar dynamics, I can tell you how I handled those kinds of situations: I started working in international development and now live in Indonesia.

Dinsdale
01-02-2008, 08:37 PM
<snip>
First of all, light blue and yellow are the colors of UCLA. I don't know how much you followed the game, but you might have noticed that the opposing team was wearing Red and Gold, because UofI played USC.
<snip>


Yeah - isn't it marvelous! It was so damned important that not a single one of us knew who the fuck was even playing! I almost shit when I surfed past the game sometime after 7 pm and saw that it was USC.

Yeah, our family is totally fucked up. But I think most families are fucked up in one way or another.

Fortunately, the hostess was my nice sister, so she won't sweat it too much, if at all.

And for those of you who think I should try to mine this situation for humor in the future. Uh, well, let's say I've made that kind of mistake before! ;)

Arabella Flynn
01-02-2008, 08:56 PM
This has actually happened in my family, in previous years. Due to extraneous factors (such as 'barking madness'), family holidays were always hell, on my mother in particular. I would have felt sorrier for her, except she took it out on everyone else. So, my mother hated going to her mother's for Christmas; my father hated seeing my mother hate going to her mother's for Christmas; and my sister and I were both teenagers at about the same time, which not only meant that we were starting to develop opinions about how much we hated family Christmases, but we were experts at sulking and sniping at everyone around us.

The car was never turned around. My father just drove white-knuckled until we got there, trying to keep the argument to sub-critical levels. When I was 17, I decided I was old enough to begin drinking through Christmas dinner until the relatives got bearable; before that I had handheld video game systems. Actually, I still have handheld video game systems, and now I can buy my own hard liquor.

If I had been the driver, and the rest of the family genuinely didn't care about the fight, I would have turned around "to get the hostess gift" and left BOTH combatants there. If there was a second car available, either or both of them could have joined us later. College students are old enough to take care of themselves -- if she wanted to go for a walk, drive/take a cab out to dinner by herself, or buy a bus ticket back to school, that's her business, and she's really not going to die without supervision.

If I were stuck in the car with one of the combatants who was hammering me, trying to get me to say she was right, I probably would have said the same thing as A Priori Tea, and it probably would have gotten me in the same amount of trouble. :D The family no longer attempts to include me on those sorts of arguments, because they know if they push me I am going to tell each and every one of them how wrong they are and how idiotically they're acting, and no one will get any satisfaction at all.

Giraffe
01-03-2008, 01:41 AM
I agree with everything else you said, but I wanted to prod you for a story here. :)Not too different from the OP, actually. There were several knock-down drag out fights, mostly carried out over email, regarding fairly trivial details about the wedding planning. These were usually started by my mother in law, but my wife couldn't help rising to the bait and they always ended up blown way out of proportion to the original issue.

I think the most spectacular was over the fact that my wife had planned to have a smallish wedding shower a couple of days before the wedding (at the request of friends, since most everyone was coming from far away and it couldn't be done sooner) and didn't invite an aunt on my mother-in-law's side of the family. Note that my wife and said aunt are not close at all, said aunt wasn't going to be in town until the day after the bridal shower, and my mother-in-law hates her like poison. Allegations were hurled that my family was dominating the wedding guest list complete with hard numbers (with no basis in reality), confusing threats to not get her (mother-in-law's) hair done with my wife before the wedding tossed about, multitudes of passive aggressive barbs flew back and forth, it was crazy. There were a few other dust-ups over what type of vases would be on the tables at the reception and whether or not my wife would buy a veil. As with the OP, I suspect they were all about control and not about the actual issue, but they lead to some very surreal emails at the very least.

I wisely stayed as far out of it as I could get, apart from occasionally imploring my wife-to-be to just delete the latest email and not respond (it never worked). After the wedding, mother-in-law settled right down and things are fine. :)

don't ask
01-03-2008, 02:16 AM
I wouldn't have even driven the arguing pair home. I find arguments really distracting when I am driving and even when my kids were young they could understand that if I told them to wait until we stopped to have the argument, they were to shut up and wait until they were out of the car. Most of the time the argument was forgotten by then. If they wouldn't stop I would pull over to let them sort it out, but no motion while screaming, crying and swearing are happening.

In your case I would have dumped the arguers first time I went home. If they are over 18 and can't control themselves in a car I am driving they can get out, right there. Hell they aren't even paying a fare, so have less rights than a taxi passenger.

Gatopescado
01-03-2008, 02:34 AM
Didn't read past the first few sentences. I'da gotten drunk and watched the game.

FIGHT ON!

Dinsdale
01-12-2008, 05:46 PM
Just in case you ever wondered the proper incubation period for resurrecting an unpleasant moment, ten days worked just fine.

So we're drinking coffee and reading the paper. Just a nice pleasant Saturday morning. 2 of the kids are away on a school trip, and the 3d will be heading back to college tomorrow. Apparently that is the time my wife decides to ask me why I couldn't be supportive of her when her kids were being so disrespectful towards her.

20 minutes later or so, I told her however reprehensibly she thinks I acted that day, I think she acted just as poorly, and ask where she wants the conversation to go. To which she suggests we consider divorce and property settlements. I thought of posting to ask you folks what you thought of my proposal...

Hope you all are having a slightly more pleasant weekend than I.

Oh yeh - last night we took my sister and her hubby out to dinner. I thought everyone had a nice time. Perhaps that is what brought the topic up.

Hakuna Matata
01-12-2008, 06:07 PM
Just in case you ever wondered the proper incubation period for resurrecting an unpleasant moment, ten days worked just fine.

So we're drinking coffee and reading the paper. Just a nice pleasant Saturday morning. 2 of the kids are away on a school trip, and the 3d will be heading back to college tomorrow. Apparently that is the time my wife decides to ask me why I couldn't be supportive of her when her kids were being so disrespectful towards her.

20 minutes later or so, I told her however reprehensibly she thinks I acted that day, I think she acted just as poorly, and ask where she wants the conversation to go. To which she suggests we consider divorce and property settlements. I thought of posting to ask you folks what you thought of my proposal...

Hope you all are having a slightly more pleasant weekend than I.

Oh yeh - last night we took my sister and her hubby out to dinner. I thought everyone had a nice time. Perhaps that is what brought the topic up.

Your wife needs to see a therapist. Her reactions are way out of line to the situation in my humble opinion. My wife has had similar odd reactions, (usually related to her peri-menapause), but hers aren't as extreme as your wifes and she usually apologizes to the offended party upon reflection. Especially if EVERYONE is telling her she is off base. Sounds like your wife has been stewing over this since it happened!

My wife and I don't agree on everything and that is fine, just part of being married. Sometimes you just have to accept that you can't modify your spouses opinion. But to go from that position to asking for a divorce is a bit..er...uh... over the top to say the least.

And for the record based on what you wrote here, I don't believe you acted reprehensible in this nor do I think your children were disrespectful.

Freudian Slit
01-12-2008, 06:09 PM
Seriously? She wants to divorce over THIS? Are things okay in your marriage apart from this incident?

MsWhatsit
01-12-2008, 06:20 PM
Seriously? She wants to divorce over THIS? Are things okay in your marriage apart from this incident?


Yeah, this. Unless you're leaving out some important detail, such as when you told your wife she was an evil harridan and you were sorry you'd ever met her, then I honestly can't understand her reaction here. Divorce over not supporting her in what sounds to have been one of the stupidest and most petty arguments ever? Ten days after it happened? Dude. Just... dude.

Ferret Herder
01-12-2008, 06:38 PM
Get her to a doctor or a counselor. Or both.

Dinsdale
01-12-2008, 06:42 PM
Well, to be fair, realize you are getting just one side of things here - mine.
I've posted before about disagreements we've had, petty or not.

22 years hasn't been exactly a smooth road, but I had thought we had agreed upon some tolerable stasis. I'd be kidding if I told you there was any great romance between us. At the very least, we make a better economic unit together than apart, and we are both such opinionated jerks it is hard to imagine many other folks being as willing to put up with either one of us as we have been.

Our youngest is a HS junior. We had spoken about downsizing our home at that time. Perhaps that would be an appropriate time to call it quits.

I think she is worried, tho, because she has primarily stayed at home the past 16 years or so, and is scared of the potential need to go out and get a paying job. She did mention something a couple of weeks back about thinking she might be beginning menopause. Yeah, I'm sure that will clear everything up. And then maybe I'll get a pony!

vison
01-12-2008, 07:02 PM
Wow. Not only "issues" with control and the college-student daughter, but serious marriage issues, too.

Sorry for jumping in, but I have to say this: if you are able to cooly say that the only reason you're staying married is to form a better economic unit, it's no wonder there are family fights.

Heffalump and Roo
01-12-2008, 07:11 PM
Ummm. . . what? Was that part about the divorce serious?

I was going to comment on the original OP since I just saw this thread, but now I'm just too stunned. Wow. Family drama indeed.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation, Dinsdale. I hope things improve.

Dinsdale
01-12-2008, 07:59 PM
Sorry for jumping in, but I have to say this: if you are able to cooly say that the only reason you're staying married is to form a better economic unit, it's no wonder there are family fights.

Yeah, probably quite fair to say we "fell out of love" some time ago. But I thought we were mutually willing to continue some form of peaceful coexistence.

Maybe we should have gotten divorced years ago. Maybe we were both too lazy and chicken to do so. And maybe we've both just gotten tired of taking what we consider to be crap from each other.

Oh - and when I say "economic" - I'm talking about more than just money. I thought we made a pretty good team, dividing up chores, running a household, and raising some decent kids. I'd imagine both of us would have proportionately less cash if we split, but that's not a huge deal to me.

Muffin
01-13-2008, 05:06 AM
Oh for the days when families drove in station wagons, and there was a big red button (not blue or yellow or orange) on the left side of the dash. (Of course it was no great hell never knowing when some passenger might be ejected from the car in front of you.) Today it is all air bags and seat belts and restraint systems, so there is no quick and simple solution to in-car squabbles. You have to ask yourself, do I want to spend the remaining years of my life with this person?

Siege
01-13-2008, 06:34 AM
Could it be she thinks there's a pattern in which you don't support her when she's dealing with the kids?

A lot of people consider seeing a therapist as a very large step. Do you two have a friend or family member who you both trust who can help you sort this out between you? That tends to seem friendlier and more informal than suggesting you need marriage therapy.

I'd be willing to bet there's more going on than just the incident in the OP (which, by the way, I think you handled correctly). If you can find out what it is and sort it out, rather than just letting things fester, it will be easier for both of you.

From what I've seen of you here, Dinsdale, you're a good man, a good father, and a good husband in that you really do try to do the best you can by your family. I respect you for that. You're also sensible enough not to let a problem grow so large it can't be fixed.

twickster
01-13-2008, 08:37 AM
It sounds to me as though you'd both thought you could "hang in there" till the nest had emptied -- and now both of you are thinking, well, no, maybe we can't. If tensions are that high between the two of you -- and between your wife and this kid or that, or yourself and this kid or that -- no one will benefit from your sticking things out to meet some arbitrary deadline -- esp. not the kid for whose "sake" you're staying together.

Yeah, see a counselor, act like adults, etc., but face the situation as it is, not as you would like it to have been.

twicks, who as the youngest child had a solo front-row seat to the last couple of years of my parents' marriage -- which wasn't a pretty sight

fessie
01-13-2008, 09:01 AM
Awww, shit, Dinsdale, I'm so sorry!

Fionn
01-13-2008, 09:38 AM
A lot of people consider seeing a therapist as a very large step. Do you two have a friend or family member who you both trust who can help you sort this out between you? That tends to seem friendlier and more informal than suggesting you need marriage therapy.


Only do this if you have a friend or family member you wouldn't mind alienating. Couples counselors are availabe to stand in that minefield so your friends and family don't have to.

I'm really sorry to hear how things are going, Dinsdale.

Kalhoun
01-13-2008, 10:04 AM
Well, to be fair, realize you are getting just one side of things here - mine.
I've posted before about disagreements we've had, petty or not.

22 years hasn't been exactly a smooth road, but I had thought we had agreed upon some tolerable stasis. I'd be kidding if I told you there was any great romance between us. At the very least, we make a better economic unit together than apart, and we are both such opinionated jerks it is hard to imagine many other folks being as willing to put up with either one of us as we have been.

Our youngest is a HS junior. We had spoken about downsizing our home at that time. Perhaps that would be an appropriate time to call it quits.

I think she is worried, tho, because she has primarily stayed at home the past 16 years or so, and is scared of the potential need to go out and get a paying job. She did mention something a couple of weeks back about thinking she might be beginning menopause. Yeah, I'm sure that will clear everything up. And then maybe I'll get a pony!Okay, I was going to ask if PMS played a role in this tiff, but since you say this is a possible menopause thing, I can vouch for the fact that it can do really bizarre things to a person's ability to function in a sane fashion.

She can get a blood test (3 tests, actually) that will tell whether or not The Big "M" has started. If this is the case, I've got three words for you: Embrace The Patch. It saved my marriage.

Q.N. Jones
01-13-2008, 10:44 AM
A lot of people consider seeing a therapist as a very large step. Do you two have a friend or family member who you both trust who can help you sort this out between you?

They are both contemplating divorce, which is the biggest "step" there is in a marriage. If that isn't enough to warrant seeing a therapist, what is?

Dragging a friend or family member in to mediate a marriage dispute is a recipe for disaster. And cruel to the friend.

Dinsdale
01-13-2008, 10:55 AM
Thanks all.

This morning over coffee she saw fit to up and tell me how much she hates me. Over a disagreement we had had over my recent purchase of reading glasses. Just wanted to let me know. And went back to reading the paper. Nice way to start the day! :rolleyes:

We've seen counselors individually and together in the past. Gotta admit we've had - uh - less than stellar experience. For one thing, it is very hard to find someone who is a good match with you. Or with both of you equally. Especially when both parties consider themselves as intelligent and opinionated as we do.

Another thing is it is REALLY expensive. I know, a divorce is more expensive. But when you are paying $100+ an hour, it can take a couple of grand before you even get to the point where you think the other guy is even up to speed on where you are. And maybe neither of us cares enough to enter into such a pricey, openended effort.

Since the most recent attempt maybe 5 years ago, I thought we were basically just trying to commit to talking about things openly between ourselves, because we felt no one knew us and our situation as well as we did ourselves. And, as proud as we are, we felt that not all that many counsellors were all that much smarter than us.

We've had a couple of less than thrilling experiences with counselling in the past. Perhaps we are too opinionated and set in our ways to appreciate what a good counselor can offer. Or maybe we've just never met a good counselor. But we've seen people who are highly recommended by our humanist UU minister whom we both respect highly, and by friends, and have been unimpressed with them all. Trying to find an objective voice is one thing - we found it much more difficult to find someone we both respect.

I guess we could try it again. But I'm not sure either of us cares enough to go through the effort.

Yeah, 22 years might seem like a whole lot to just throw away. But if the last 10-15 of them have been more contentious than not, the better path might be splitting and seeing what you can salvage. At least that's the path that looks most appealing to me right now.

MaddyStrut
01-13-2008, 11:35 AM
Wow Dinsdale. What a terrible way to start the year for you. I'm sorry you're going through all that.

Your story reminds me of my own family's situation when I started college. So much so that you could have been my own father 20 years ago relaying the situation with "names changed to protect the innocent." In case your situation is more than superficially the same, maybe my 20 years of perspective can help. If it's not the same, just ignore what I have to say, but know that I wish you well.

Prior to me heading off to college, my mother and I had a normal relationship with the occasional squabbles and a few drag-out fights, but nothing too severe. Once I went away, that all changed. We fought all the time over stupid, stupid stuff--stuff that was just as trivial as colors on T shirts. We once fought for 2 days over whether or not I wanted a second glass of orange juice. :rolleyes:

Looking back, I can see that a lot of our issues were caused by my normal growing up happening at a very bad time for my mother. Like your wife, my mother was feeling more than a little confused about what she was going to do with herself once we all went to college. She was struggling to redefine herself and feeling incredibly insecure.

Right at that same time, along comes me challenging every single thing my mother had to say. I had been a bit slow to reach my rebellious years and didn't really go through that in high school. College is when I came into my own and started becoming more of my own person. So I sort of went from someone who trusted that everything my mother said was correct to someone who thought everything my mother said was wrong.

And, of course, I did it at just the wrong time, a time when she needed reassurance that she still had something important and valuable to contribute.

My father was bewildered and caught up in the middle. Like you, he couldn't imagine why his wife was fighting (and often being flat out crazy) over such trivial stuff. And, like you, he got a lot of grief for not being "supportive."

They got through it. I'm not privy to how because my parents didn't share the details of their relationship with me. All I know is they did. It was a tough time, but they came out okay. My guess is that mom eventually got past her insecurities when time and experience showed them to be unfounded.

anu-la1979
01-13-2008, 11:37 AM
I hope whatever you decide that you end up happier, Dinsdale, because you do sound really miserable right now. That said, I wish for you that your wife just stops saying things like she hates you...because that's completely mean and unnecessary.

Muffin
01-13-2008, 01:10 PM
This morning over coffee she saw fit to up and tell me how much she hates me. Over a disagreement we had had over my recent purchase of reading glasses. Just wanted to let me know. And went back to reading the paper. Nice way to start the day! :rolleyes:

That's just plain emotionally abusive.

Look, I don't know you, and I don't know your situation, but I have to wonder if you are able to look objectively at you wife's behaviour, or if instead, after many years of such emotional abuse, you have fallen into a rut, in which you simply tolerate, tolerate, tolerate . . . . Stop looking at yourself to assign blame for your wife's conduct whether the problem is one of co-dependency between the two of you, or simply that she is bat shit crazy, the simple fact of the matter is that, for whatever reason, she is taking a verbal knife to your soul. Do not accept such conduct. Recognize her behaviour for what it is, and then reject such behaviour.

There's a great wonderful world out there that you are missing while you sit at the dining table being denigrated. Year after year of a crappy marriage is nothing worth preserving. What is worth saving is your future as a whole person who has the opportunity to go through the next couple of decades without living in an emotional meat grinder. At least now you can still get out while you are at the top of your game.

Seeing as counseling has failed, I trust that you know a good family lawyer who can prepare you to deal with the various issues of separation. Don't wait until there is a blow up, or until your wife pulls the plug first. Separation and divorce are often brutally hard on the parties, but at the end of the tunnel, usually lead to much happier lives.

fessie
01-13-2008, 01:54 PM
I so agree about the difficulties in finding the right therapist. It's my experience (and my family's) that 80% of them fall on the ineffective-->dangerous spectrum.

But the 20% that are good - ahh! The marital therapist we're seeing right now is blowing my mind.

I agree that the way your wife is behaving is unacceptable. It may well be that she's a cuckoo bird, for one or many reasons.

But I think it would behoove you to find out what's going on with YOU. With or without her. You're a part of this dynamic. You need to heal. Seriously. If you guys can't agree on a therapist, try it on your own. Six sessions should give you a solid idea of what your doctor has to offer.

It may not save your marriage, but it might save your sanity and I'll bet it would improve your other relationships.

Nava
01-14-2008, 06:52 AM
Wait, you're assuming I was not the parent involved? What am I talking about, this is a hypothetical, right?

Dins, consider it a compliment.

In my family, the parent who'd get nervous when we went to family shindings was the parent whose family was involved. Dad was more irritable on the way to his Mom's, but would calm down once we got there and nothing exploded; Mom (whose family lived much further away, therefore stays would be longer) fretted endlessly about "what will I have forgotten to pack this time?" (uh, Mom, there's stores in Barcelona, promise, 3M+ town, remember?). We all have hot tempers, but Mom is the only one who doesn't just hold grudges but nurse them till they're strong enough for Olympic weightlifting - in general we learned each other's limits and knew to back down or leave it for later. There were a few cases of slammed doors followed by "no, I'm not coming out for dinner!" "then you're not getting dinner" "That's. The. Idea" (most notably between Middlebro and Dad); those times when one of the Parental Units tried to drag the rest of us into saying (s)he was Right, the rest of us (most notably the Child Units) have had no problem saying "no."

But that's my family. I have friends who'd get into rams-in-heat fights with one parent similar to what you describe... all they seem to gain by it is headaches, but both parts are unable to see how stupid it all is.

Dinsdale
01-14-2008, 09:43 AM
Well, no fireworks this morning.

Maybe things will settle down to some semblance of what has passed for normalcy these past many years, tho there's no telling how long that will last, or what will set off the next blow-up.

In all this, I insist on acknowledging that I must be very difficult to live with in many respects. I'm just not convinced that my idiosyncracies and transgressions are such that they merit the response they receive.

It will be interesting to see what happens when we put the house on the market in a couple of years. I think that would probably be a very sensible time for us to part ways.

Like I said, I think a large part of her anger might reflect fear and/or resentment that our mutual choice that she stay home has made it that now she is far more vocationally limited than I. I told her that as long as she worked 40 hrs a week, I'd be willing to split salries with her 50/50. We didn't get further into specifics, but I got the impression she thought I owed her something more than that - which didn't really make sense to me. We've got money set aside that should be plenty to get the kids through undergrad. And I'd be happy to simply split all of our other assets 50/50. Not sure what would be appropriate re: my pension and such.

Pleasant thoughts, no?

Eureka
01-14-2008, 09:52 AM
Pointing out the more or less obvious:

Talk to a lawyer experienced in divorce law --and maybe an accountant/financial planner about what the future will hold-- before you make decisions about things like your pension based on what feels "fair" to you now. Especially if your wife is holding grudges right now about petty stuff--what feels fair to you may not feel fair to her, and I'd hate for you to impoverish yourself, and imperil your ability to help your children out if they need it later, just to try to appease someone who appears irrational.

I'm really sorry that your recent family drama appears to have turned into the straw which may break the camel's back.

But really, being alone is not the end of the world. And, while I can't promise it will work this way for you, I do have friends who had a twenty or thirty year marriage, finally got tired of trying to keep things together and got divorced. Now, they are friends and partners in helping with their grandchildren (for example), but they no longer have to put up with each other's most annoying traits all the time. So they get along better than they did when they were married.

fessie
01-14-2008, 10:13 AM
My parents spent all their money in the process of divorcing. Twenty-seven years' of equity shot. They couldn't agree on future support and kept returning to court.

But the damage from unresolved problems and emotions had a far greater impact, in terms of their physical and mental health and future earning capacity. Medical bills and unemployment caused them both to go bankrupt.

I read somewhere that an ideal divorce is one where two people agree, openly and without rancor, that they want to live separately because their goals are no longer compatible.

I believe that divorcing in anger, with unresolved issues, doesn't necessarily mean you've separated yourself from the problems.

Muffin
01-14-2008, 10:57 AM
We didn't get further into specifics, but I got the impression she thought I owed her something more than that - which didn't really make sense to me.Perhaps a compensatory component of spousal support.
Not sure what would be appropriate re: my pension and such.Perhaps an equalization based on the value of the asset.

Start by consulting a good family lawyer in your jurisdiciton, who can explain to you the family laws in your jurisdition, and based on the number you provide, set out baselines for support and property division.

Missy2U
01-14-2008, 11:23 AM
Dins - I'm sorry - let me know if there's anything I can do. You have my email - use it. :)

TroubleAgain
01-14-2008, 12:42 PM
Damn, Dinsdale. I'm sorry this is all happening. I cannot imagine sitting at the table and hearing my partner say they hated me over something that petty. :(

anu-la1979
01-14-2008, 12:55 PM
Dinsdale: In all this, I insist on acknowledging that I must be very difficult to live with in many respects. I'm just not convinced that my idiosyncracies and transgressions are such that they merit the response they receive.

My family is pretty eccentric and difficult (though I don't talk about it here) and we don't say stuff like this to each other at all. Reading glasses disagreements do not merit hatred-no matter how annoying you might be in real life. Unless you have been beating her for the last 22 years and cheating and being a general asshole (and I doubt she'd put up with that), you don't deserve to wake up to cold hatred.

Either your wife is slowly going insane because

a) She's been a SAHM and is now confused about where her life is going since your youngest kid is almost out of the house

b) Is going hormonally crazy

OR you have to maybe face the fact that she is just punishing you because that's her way of dealing with her own pain. Given her insane family background, she may just be slowly torturing you about her other issues.

Either way-you don't deserve to be punished for stuff this petty and I agree with Muffin that it is downright emotionally abusive to talk to someone that way. If a man said stuff like that to me, everyone and my mom would be painting a gigantic scarlet "A" all over him. You shouldn't be giving your wife a pass on talking to you like that...

Dinsdale
01-14-2008, 02:05 PM
Just to give you all a good laugh at what an idiot I am:

I think I mentioned upthread that (I think) part of my wife's is over what she thinks she will do with herself when the kids are gone, her lack of satisfaction with primarily managing a household, and her frustration at the difficulty of re-entering the full-time job market.

Well, we just got an e-mail that our boss is going to be putting on a hard press to hire another attorney soon, and was welcoming any resumes from qualified candidates. I'd have to be a complete idiot to suggest that my wife apply to my shop, wouldn't I? Unfortunately, my sense of self-preservation outweighed my desire to be a nice guy. What the hell. In a worst case scenario, I can take early retirement in 3 years.