My husband and I are dreading the holidays. Each of us comes from parents that makes us feel grateful to have escaped. We're talking about shouting matches and broken furniture. As adults we each separately endured our parents banging on doors, showing up unexpected, and disregarding boundaries.
Now that we're married, some people seem to forget we have jobs, like when Tío Whoever drops into town. But the phone is very silent after that impromptu reunion is complete.
Since year end is coming fast, the obligatory *invitations* start trickling in. How do we tell the relatives that we don't need or appreciate being squished and interrogated at their annual parrandas?
Odd Woman Out
Dear Odd Woman Out,
Girl? That's a lot of Spanglish angst you and your man are living. Not only did you both survive what sound like extremely dysfunctional childhoods, but you found each other. Family drama can cause major stress in a marriage, but having a partner who gets it, I think, is both a blessing and a curse in this case.
The plus side is you don't have to shrug apologetically when Tio Whoever shows up on your doorstep unannounced because last week, it was his family pretending that boundaries don't exist. Instead of fighting, you have (and happen to be) the partner who understands exactly what the other is going through. The flipside, though, is that neither one of you has the coping tools in place to stop the cycle of from continuing. Let's be honest, m'ija, okay? You say that your families don't respect your boundaries, but I think the bigger issue is that neither one of you has a clue when it comes to how to establish a boundary to begin with. I'm not excusing anyone's behavior here, but I can assure you that nothing is going to change until you and your husband stop putting family loyalty before your own mental health. To do that, I'd recommend both indivivual and joint therapy sessions.
Until then, you've got two choices when the doorbell rings. Either roll out the red carpet, or take a deep breath, hold on to each other for support, and drop off Tio Whoever off at the nearest hotel. -- Silent Night for the Win, y'all!
Pauline Campos is Latina Magazine's #DIMELO advice columnist and founder of the #ChingonaFest community. Email her your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with her on her blog, www.aspiringmama.com, follow her on twitter: @pauline_campos, and learn more about #ChingonaFest by following on instagram and tumblr.