I’ve gone back and read this post of Mrs. Chili’s several times now. It concerns familial relations, holiday planning, and stuff like that to which most all of us can relate. If you haven’t read it, go check it out. I’ll wait for you.
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Got it? OK. It’s a representatively engaging narrative of holiday strife, right? Merry Effing Christmas, indeed. I’ve been close to commenting several times, but decided to make it a post instead.
Being between a wife and mother who disagree is not a pleasant place to be, and to some degree I sympathize with Mr. Chili. I had a hard time with this right after Lea and I married, as described in #17 here. But see, here’s the thing, guys, and get it through your head: your wife is correct. Period.
Go ahead and laugh, but I’m absolutely serious. If you have an emotionally healthy and mutually respectful marriage, your wife wins. Given two conflicting and superficially reasonable respective requests from your wife and mother, if you’re going to piss one of them off no matter what you do, piss your mother off every time. It is your wife to whom you have cleaved; with whom you have become one flesh.
Note that I say “if you have an emotionally healthy and mutually respectful marriage.” If you guys have been fucking with each other’s feelings and/or self-images and doing your damnedest to win nasty little points against each other for the past ten years, or if she’s criminally insane, or Nancy Grace, or what have you, then never mind. Best of luck, sport, and maybe a little critical self-examination (aimed at discovering what it is you think you’re doing with your life) is indicated. But your wife is healthy, and you are too? She’s right.
Be cautious of overvaluing nebulous emotional considerations. “Oh, Mom doesn’t mean any harm; let’s not make waves.” Bullshit. Yes, it’s your family, and there may well be some things for which family members should receive a pass that Joe-off-the-street shouldn’t. But such a pass should never be issued for not acting like a reasonable grown-up.
Finally—and please pardon the cliché—be courageous in your convictions, and dispassionate in their application. If you’re going up against the clan because you want to win the point, or because you’re still sour about not getting a pony, then I’m not talking to you. I’m talking about reaching a reasonable plan with your wife, and executing it.
If you guys approach the situation maturely and constructively, then everyone’s feelings (including Mom’s) are considered, and there is no reasonable argument against your chosen course. If Mom doesn’t like the compromise you’ve crafted, it is her problem. Don’t make it yours. If she wants to send you snarky email, or fence with you over dessert, or whatever, don’t play. Exit the conversation gracefully, and without smugness. The placidity that results from being right is more than enough to offset any nonsense that lesser parties may be eager to perpetuate.