Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Insist that significant other share in what she claims to love

It's time to put your foot down about the sharing of elf duties

Q: My significant other loves Christmas but I don't. Unfortunately, I have to drive the bus of Noel's* Annual Holiday Expectations, i.e., do all the decorating, baking, shopping, etc. BY MYSELF.

If I don't, it won't get done and Noel will sulk and hide until I cave. Noel refuses to celebrate with family without me and maintains that it's only one day a year, I should suck it up, I can handle one church service, etc. (I'm an atheist.) This is a very rare instance of Noel's not budging but I don't know how NOT to feel pressure and an insane amount of resentment. Please advise!

— Do … Not … Want!

A: I believe you're feeling a sane amount of resentment.

Noel is being a complete child, as you know, and Noel knows it's not "only one day" — it takes weeks to put on the kind of Christmas you're talking about. And it's not weeks of joyous voluntary labor, but weeks of crowds, compulsory KP duty and forced cheer.

That means you have three choices: Suck it up, go on strike or conjure a new approach.

Most people reading this will think, ugh, go on strike already, it's years overdue. And they'll be right.

But marriage isn't a single-answer institution; it's a compilation of deals two people make, and each is unique. If telling Noel where to stuff this stocking isn't the deal you want to make, then you're right to seek alternatives.

One possibility: This year, let Noel know this is going to become a joint effort (or no effort at all, but leave that off, since that makes it an ultimatum): baking together, decorating together, shopping together.

You can go to some retail mecca as a couple, split up to do your elf thing (two lists), then meet at a set time for dinner at the nicest place there.

When you say, "OK, let's bake some cookies," and Noel resists, say, "If you want cookies this year, then this is how it's going to happen; I also really would like your company."

Also ask Noel to help by fetching ingredients, wrapping gifts, whatever you need; announce that it's wrapping time. Bring as much fun to these things as is realistic after years of sane resentment.

If Noel refuses to do any of these things, then the thing in question doesn't happen. No to team baking? Then don't bake. No to team wrapping? Then gifts get delivered unwrapped.

Should this firm position result in no Christmas anything, and if that results in pouting, then you're down to the other two choices: caving or going on strike.

That sounds like a nonchoice — that is, unless you've failed to mention some irrational stuff you ask of Noel that would balance out this ho-ho-hostage situation. Context is key.

A strike, to be fair, would also have its on-ramp paved nicely at this point. "For years, I've done this for you, when we both know Christmas is not my thing. I will gladly continue, but not as a solo act, not anymore." His sulk is not your command.

* Name added as relief from the term "significant other."

Comments

Tell Me About It: Play up challenged child’s strengths

Q: One of my children has a challenging personality. Within my family, we are aware of it, and deal with it, and love him oh-so-much. As he is getting older, I can see how the outside world (teachers, coaches, neighbors) favors him less than my other...
Published: 02/20/18

Tell Me About It: DNA results reveal 52-year-old secret

Q: I am in the middle of a growing crisis in my extended family because of revelations from a DNA match. After getting my results, I was contacted by a woman looking for her biological family. It quickly became apparent she was the child my sister ga...
Published: 02/20/18

Tell Me About It: Don’t expect help from careless grandma

Q: My mother moved to be closer to us when we had a baby, who’s now 2. She’s not responsible with him. She gives him anything he points to and grunts. Just in the past month, this has included a lighter ("He doesn’t know how to use it"), garden shear...
Published: 02/19/18
Ordinary dogs take to the Derby Lane greyhound track for the Mutt Derby

Ordinary dogs take to the Derby Lane greyhound track for the Mutt Derby

Some stopped midway, some turned around and ran the wrong way and some dashed to the arms of their owners as more than 300 average house pets took to the track at Derby Lane on Sunday for the Mutt Derby. The popular fundraiser for the Jaycees died o...
Published: 02/18/18

Tell Me About It: Doubts creep in to six-year relationship

Q: I have been with my partner for six years and have just graduated from college. I love my partner and could see myself happily married to them for the long haul. However, I am beginning to feel wistful about never having dated anyone else — or kis...
Published: 02/18/18

Tell Me About It: Vacation opens dialogue about money

Vacation opens dialogue about moneyQ: My girlfriend and I just went on our first vacation together. I thought it went well, but after we were home she told me she felt I had been cheap because I wanted to split all costs 50-50.I think cheap would be ...
Published: 02/16/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Feb. 19-25

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Feb. 19-25

Gasparilla Distance Classic: One of Tampa’s best known road races returns to downtown, with a 5K and 15K Saturday and an 8K and half marathon on Sunday. The chief attraction is the 15K on Saturday, which takes runners out and back along the man...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Dance Moms star Chloe Lukasiak to appear at Florida State Fair on Saturday

Dance Moms star Chloe Lukasiak to appear at Florida State Fair on Saturday

TAMPA — Chloe Lukasiak will take on a different role than she is accustomed when she stops by the Florida State Fair this weekend.After all, the 16-year-old Pennsylvania-native and resident rose to fame on Seasons 1 through 4 of Lifetime’s reality te...
Published: 02/15/18

Tell Me About It: Past eating disorder affects food choices

Q: My wife refuses to change her diet and grocery shopping to accommodate my health needs and those of our kids. Everything she gets is processed grains and sugar. My doctor recently recommended losing weight, and exercise won’t cut it. But because s...
Published: 02/15/18
Top things to do this weekend: Florida State Fair, Mutt Derby at Derby Lane

Top things to do this weekend: Florida State Fair, Mutt Derby at Derby Lane

GO, DOG, GO: Mutt DerbyOne of the most hilarious days at the races is Sunday, when ordinary house pets get a chance to run on the Derby Lane greyhound track. Mutt Derby registration begins at 11 a.m., but you can register in advance at greyhoundpets...
Published: 02/14/18