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Extended family vacations can be stressful – Chicago Tribune


Dear Amy: My husband’s entire extended family enjoys going on vacations together.

Even though these family members are wonderful, these holidays are very stressful for me.

The entire process, from trying to figure out what to pack, to getting to the airport, to checking in, to the actual flight, to packing the bags, is an anxiety-inducing process for me.

Then, when we arrive at our destination, I feel completely lost as far as my husband is concerned.

He’s there to spend time with his family, not me.

He enjoys the company of our adult children but barely speaks to me. These are the only holidays we go on.

In our 30-plus years of marriage, we have only taken two trips alone, and one of them was with our children when they were young.

He seems aware that I’m stressed but never offers understanding or comfort. His attitude sounds more like “I guess it sucks to be you.”

I decided to join the upcoming trip.

I feel like I’m wrong somehow, and maybe it sucks to be me.

Anyone have any thoughts?

– Not traveling

Dear Non-Traveller: I agree that being yourself – right now – sucks.

Fortunately, you have the power to worsen your situation.

This sucking process is entirely up to you, but it does require you to make a number of choices as well as exercise options.

Travel anxiety is quite common. You can learn strategies for coping with your rumination through deep breathing, refocusing your thoughts by connecting with your senses (seek out the “3-3-3” technique), and consulting a professional therapist to consider treating your anxiety.

During these trips, you may choose to connect with these “wonderful” family members and indulge in your own outings or activities with them—essentially taking a vacation from your husband’s neglect.

And yes, at this point I agree with your choice not to go on this trip (a vacation for your husband but not for you).

While you’re at home, you should plan some ways to make your “stay” memorable and enjoyable. Try something new! Learn to play pickleball, poker, or look into volunteer positions or part-time jobs (if you don’t already work outside the home).

And if at some point you want to go on vacation with your husband, despite his attitude and indifference towards you, you should plan a getaway for the two of you and see how he reacts.

Dear Amy: I have worked in a small family business (my family does not own the business) for almost 10 years.

We are busy and productive (this is a stone and tile store) serving our clients and customers over the phone and in person. Precision is important in our work because we take measurements to cut the stones to exact dimensions.

Last week my boss hired a new worker named “Susan”. He’s sitting in the booth next to me.

As part of the “getting to know you” conversation, he mentioned that he has three cats. I have allergies and frankly I don’t like cats, so I said: “Oh, I would never have a cat; “I don’t trust them.” I was just kidding and it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. He didn’t answer and we both went back to our work.

That night, Susan found me on social media and went through my posts (going back a few months) and called each photo “disgusting,” “horrible,” etc. made his comments.

These were mostly photos of family members, including my children. Under the photo of my 89-year-old grandmother, she wrote: “Disgusting. “I don’t trust him.”

I was horrified and took screenshots of the whole thing.

I believe I was being harassed and frankly I don’t believe he has the temperament to work with clients.

I want to go to our boss and ask for him to be fired, but I’m nervous about doing that.

What are you thinking?

– Anxious Employee

Dear Concerned: “Susan” has been at this job for a week and is already harassing a colleague. Definitely hand it over.

Dear Amy: “Undecided” was part of a couple trying to decide whether to have children. Your response to this was one of the best and most succinct summaries of the parenting experience I’ve ever read.

– A fan

Dear Fan: I’ve heard this from other readers too, and I thank you all.

When I read Undecided’s question, I realized that I had been rehearsing my answer for years.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or write to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or on Facebook.)


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