DEAR AMY: My husband Stefan's large family is tightly knit. They aggressively attempt to spend every celebratory occasion with us. We don't mind sometimes, but avoiding their constant intrusions was a major reason we moved to another state. Last holiday, we spent half the day traveling to celebrate with my in-laws and were shocked to find they had invited Stefan's ex-friend, Gerald. Gerald was always trouble, and after one too many debacles, Stefan ended their friendship. The ambush upset Stefan for several reasons, including being forced to reject Gerald again. Stefan's family thinks we were unkind and unappreciative. I take issue with them derailing our holiday. Stefan's family wants to spend the next holiday together, of course. He is still angry but feels his only choice is to put this behind him (unaddressed). I feel that since my in-laws can't understand why we feel betrayed and besieged, why travel to see them? Any advice?No Trespassing, Please
DEAR TRESPASSING: You two are seething over this intrusion (understandably), and yet you are not willing to share your honest reaction with these family members. He wants to sweep it under the rug, and you want to avoid them. You can't expect these relatives to understand your feeling of betrayal unless you at least attempt to describe it to them.
If avoiding your in-laws is on the table, can't you decide to address this issue directly and then act, based on how they handle the issue? An invitation has been issued. Stefan should respond by saying, "Mom and Dad, I don't know yet about traveling to see you again, but I really do need to discuss what happened last time we visited." You both have an opportunity to try to retrain his family and simply try harder to teach them how to treat you. Moving far away doesn't help much as long as they can continue to yank your chain from a distance.