Signed, “Concerned Daughter-in-law”
I shouldn’t be awake right now. But I am.
I shouldn’t have a raging headache right now. But I do.
I shouldn’t have to write a letter like this. But I did.
I shouldn’t have to give my Husband an ultimatum – talk to your mother, or I send this letter. But I will. And it will break my heart.
*names have been omitted for their protection
I am writing to let you know that we are declining the invitation to attend the family gathering on the 23rd. The reason that I’m writing, instead of calling or telling you in person, is because writing allows me the opportunity to choose my words carefully, and not say something out of frustration that I might later regret. Please let me explain.
You have raised such a wonderful son. He is willing to go out of his way to please everyone that he cares about. He will go without food, without sleep, and without any other basic need, just to make someone else happy. He cares deeply for his family. He would do anything that any of us ask, if it is within his means – and sometimes even when it’s not within his means.
In the 5 years that he and I have been together, I have watched him become upset and resentful towards his family. He will never come right out and say what’s bothering him in a direct way. Instead, he’ll make light of the situation, hoping that someone will see past the jokes and sarcasm, and understand the hurt he feels in his heart.
It breaks my heart to watch and hear these frequent exchanges, and know that nothing will change unless he stands up for himself. I know he feels that if he is direct with his feelings, he’ll become the family outcast again, and will lose the love and support of the people he cares most about. I think he’s also afraid of his own temper, and of saying something he might regret (something we have in common).
I’ve tried to explain to him that he needs to have a heart-to-heart conversation with you, because I know that you care as much about him as he does you, and it would make your relationship stronger. I’m convinced that you have no idea the hurt he’s been carrying inside; that he feels he’s the least important member of the family.
What this all boils down to – and the reason I chose to speak up on his behalf – is the scheduling of family get-togethers. Not once in 5 years have I ever known Bill’s schedule to be considered when planning a family gathering. In fact, he is usually the last to know the date and time of a gathering, almost as an afterthought. Usually, things are scheduled around [Sister]’s work schedule, or [Brother]’s availability, while Bill’s obligations and needs are ignored.
I have heard Bill bring this to your attention on more than one occasion. The last time, regarding Thanksgiving dinner, he told you more directly than I’ve ever known him to, that he was frustrated that he was always the one to “get the short end of the stick”. I heard you respond to him that you were sorry, and then joked around that “maybe next year” you’ll work around his schedule. I wish you could have seen the hurt on his face.
Two weeks later, he’s once again informed of a gathering that will take place during a time that would require him to give up the sleep that he will be in desperate need of, so that he can fulfill a family obligation. The night of the 23rd is the busiest night of the year for him, and he will be stressed to the limit at work that night. He would of course accept the invitation, just to keep things peaceful.
However, my priority is making sure that he gets the sleep he needs during such a stressful time, so that he does not have another breakthrough seizure. If that means not fulfilling a family obligation, then so be it. I have given up plenty of my own family’s gatherings, just to make sure that he remains healthy, so I may selfishly enjoy many more years married to the wonderful man that he is. The wonderful man that you raised.
Please take into consideration what I’ve written, and include him in the decision making process in the future, so that he feels like less of an outsider in his own family.