Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Ask Ellie: Find peace together and move on

Focus on the facts of the relationship, not on who’s right, wrong or awful.

Dear Ellie: My boyfriend lost his job months ago. I recently got a contract for an “on-call” job, but still don’t have a steady paycheck.

We haven’t had a vacation together, nor visited his family in Boston.

A dear friend has invited me to Mexico for her “girls’ trip” birthday party. I need the break.

But my boyfriend said that I should realize how this makes him feel, e.g. “If I’m going out and living my best life, then he should return to Boston during my one week’s vacation and he’ll maybe stay there one month or longer.”

Over five years of living together, he makes this same comment whenever I make travel plans.

If I go, it could jeopardize my relationship. And if he finds money for Boston, we’ll be back in a long-distance relationship. He’s not okay with that.

He says that if the roles were reversed, he’d say: “I know it’s been hard for you losing your job, so let’s see what we can plan together after my week away.”

But I didn’t say that.

So, my only choice is to not go on the trip and be miserable. I feel he’s controlling me. And that I’m an awful girlfriend.

Am I in the Wrong?

Focus on the facts of the relationship, not on who’s right, wrong or awful.

You’ve previously both disliked living “long-distance.” Now you’re free to travel for just one week, and he isn’t. He’s envious and hurt that you’ll likely accept the break.

His immediate reaction of a threat to stay away in Boston for longer than your absence is an attempt to hurt you back.

Control? Well, he’s purposefully made you feel badly. But it’s now a useless standoff that answers nothing.

Whether you decide for this one-week’s break anyway, depends on whether you share a committed relationship with a future, or just a holding pattern with periodic emotional upheavals.

In a true partnership, important decisions are made generously, both trying for agreement.

Consider, then, whether you’d take “a week’s break” together. Example: If you can manage to afford the travel to Mexico, you could instead plan a week’s “staycation,” costing less and lifting both of you from the daily grind of seeking better jobs.

Discuss this possibility together. Then decide.

Dear Ellie: For years, my husband’s parents have shown disinterest in contact with us or our children. Months pass before they ask how we’re doing. My own parents see our children twice weekly and/or check in daily.

My husband has raised this with his parents but they’ve negated it, say they care, yet still make no contact.

They did visit us this past summer for three weeks, and saw how upset my son was when they were leaving. Two months later, they haven’t once contacted us.

What can I do for my kids’ sakes? Tell them some people just aren’t worth their time? Keep trying?

Remote In-Laws

People come from different backgrounds, circumstances, comfort levels. Not all grandparents are alike.

The best approach with in-laws, is to be caring but not pushy.

Think of their interests since this older generation has its own outlook, hobbies, etc. Whether it’s music, theatre, a sport, etc., mix the age groups together for casual outings and short-term visits. Build the relationship, don’t enforce it.

Inviting in-laws to your home for several hours can be tiring for some older people. Consider what they can handle.

All that young kids’ need are some relaxed grandparent contacts, easy chatter, tasty treats and several hugs.

FEEDBACK Regarding the woman wanting to divorce her angry husband who was “living free” (Sept. 17):

Reader – “I accepted a similar situation for 23 years. I gave him lots of room/excuses/chances/help. He stopped providing financially and lived hermit-like in the basement “working on big deals.”

“I supported the family. He never came through with the big deal so I ended the marriage.

“He later convinced me that we have too many years together and promised to change. I’d purchased my dream home on my own and after four years asked him to leave permanently.

“He wrote me that the only way he’d continue living is to pretend that I’m dead.

“Seventeen years later, I’ve found my true partner. I have two beautiful granddaughters, and my daughter figured out how to accept her father. She sees him weekly.

“To the letter-writer: Look after yourself, your children, and do what’s right. He’ll figure out how to survive.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Relationships whither from hurts and retaliation. Find peace together, or move on.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].

Follow @ellieadvice.