Adapted from a recent online discussion.
If in-laws aren't civil, they can't see grandchildren as much
Boston: It has finally gotten to the point that my in-laws and I cannot be in a room together. It has taken 15 years of hurt and anger on both sides, and my husband agrees it is best to keep us apart.
BUT, he still wants a relationship with them. And I agree my children should see their grandparents.
How does one do this? Leave the house when they come to town? They're a six-hour drive away, so it's not like my husband can just take them for a few hours on Christmas.
He asked them over and over again to be civil to me, and they seem unable or unwilling, I'm not sure which.
Carolyn: Well, if they can't be civil to you, then that costs them time with their grandchildren. That's just how it goes.
Seems to me your husband can take the kids, once or twice or whatever per year (and not on a holiday), to see them without you. You could also invite them to visit once/twice a year while you take a meaningful trip of your own — to see your family or friends, or to treat yourself to something.
It feels rotten just typing these suggestions, but sometimes that's what these wars of attrition come to. The toughest situations, in fact, are the ones that sit right on the line, where the behavior is bad enough for your husband to agree his parents are out of line, but where his history with them makes cutting the tie unthinkable.
It's possible the reality of what they have wrought will nudge your in-laws to reconsider, but even if it doesn't, the infrequent mom-less visits is a sustainable plan as long as the kids are minors.
Take genuine sacrifice at face value when there's no pressure
Dating Catwoman in Gotham City: Dated an amazing woman with two cats for 1 1/2 years. Mutual breakup due to my severe cat allergies worsening despite meds and weekly shots (yep, weekly, I love her). Eight months pass. She now wants to get back together and wants to rehome her cats and give up her volunteer job at a cat shelter. She has had these cats for 10 years and worked in animal rescue since she was a kid.
I still love her but feel like the huge sacrifice would make her resentful, I'd feel guilty, and rehoming her cats is a big deal. She swears she wants to make these changes, but … would love any thoughts.
Carolyn: Since she apparently came to this decision herself without any pressure from you, then I think you should respect her ability to recognize what's best for her. And of course give her an indefinite amount of time to find the cats a good home.
In other words, be suspicious of happy endings when there's reason to be suspicious, not just because it's suspiciously happy.
Anonymous: Re: Catwoman: Seems to me that if she is giving up her cats and volunteer work, she is thinking life-partnership with this person. Unless Batman also sees the possibility of a permanent relationship/marriage with Catwoman, then let her keep the cats and move on.
Carolyn: That applies to anyone on the receiving end of a major sacrifice: Take it, and the person, as seriously as s/he takes you. Thanks.