I used to enjoy the holidays. I’d throw dinner parties with friends, maybe a bonfire in the backyard, drink some wine. That all changed when I got married. I love my husband, but he’s way too attached to his family.
Instead of a casual evening with friends, we now have to drive for hours and spend THE ENTIRE WEEKEND with his annoying family. His father, in particular, drives me crazy. He professes to be a liberal, except he seems to have issues with just about every minority group you can think of, especially “the Jews.” (I’m Jewish.)
What’s more, my husband reverts to toddlerhood when he’s around his folks. His dad bosses, my husband cowers. He turns into a slob, and if I say anything, his mother gives me a dirty look and cleans up after him. She also sneaks off and does our laundry, which I hate because she “doesn’t believe in” dry cleaning and has cost me several cashmere sweaters. Watching my husband act like a 3-year-old is not exactly an aphrodisiac. How can I get out of this?
—Festive, My Ass
What is it about the holiday season that brings out everyone’s inner asshole? I can’t recall if it was last Christmas or the one before when the Large Greek’s sister took me aside and told me I was fat. And here I thought only my own family was allowed to give me shit. Apparently not. Merry Christmas—pass the eggnog!
Even if you are kind enough to schlep out to the boonies, there’s no reason to subject yourself—or your shrinking cashmere collection—to an entire weekend of his family’s crap. That’s far beyond what anyone should expect of his partner. After all, whether he wants to face it or not, you are adults and you’ve formed your own little family unit.
You’ve already sustained turkey-day trauma, so you need to sit his ass down immediately and plan how to avoid a Christmas catastrophe. If he insists on seeing his family, then you should insist on a much shorter visit. While you’re at it, book yourselves into a nearby hotel for the duration, preferably one with a nice spa so you can get pampered while he’s back at the house getting a diaper change from Mommy. If you can’t afford a hotel, or it’s going to raise a shitstorm if you stay elsewhere, arrange for a work emergency to call you back.
His unwittingly anti-Semitic dad is a tough one. You could give him the new Dylan Christmas album, to illustrate that along with knowing how to spot a bargain, the chosen peeps are occasionally down with Santa—but that’s kind of passive-aggressive. Or your husband could have a heart-to-heart with him, explaining that stereotypes are the last resort of the intellectually stunted, though that’ll probably just piss him off, and somehow you’ll end up getting blamed. Note that I say your husband should be the one to do the talking—his parents, his problem. Even though they gave birth to him, you’re his wife and he should have your back.
As for the infantilizing that occurs once his mother tucks him in under a perfectly preserved set of Star Wars sheets, that’s probably impossible to discuss without hurting his feelings. So just steel yourself and go for blunt: “Honey, the sight of you calling shotgun and stomping around because your mom served pork chops instead of pot roast for dinner acts as a sealant on my vagina. If you ever want to get to third base again, grow the fuck up.”