Although this is relevant in the holiday season, I use this story whenever someone needs help setting boundaries with extended family. They often say, “I never realized there were other options?”
When Jeff & I married, my parents had drama. Jeff’s parents didn’t. It happens.
I was an only child of my parents, but they had 6 kids combined from their 1st marriages. Their marriage was messy, and I grew up watching it, terrified that my parents would divorce.
I was 12 when they told me they were going to divorce. Maybe it was because I ran away crying, but it didn’t actually happen until I was 21. I worked hard to save their marriage during those 9 years; I’m sure they did too.
As a young wife, I was still enmeshed in the post-divorce drama of my parent’s lives. Jeff would listen to me in long conversations, still tenacious, trying to make sense out of nonsense or defending whichever parent I wasn’t talking to.
One night he snapped. I was in a “normal” evening conversation when I heard him say, “That’s it! This is enough.” He took the phone from me, said something firmly, and hung up.
Although stunned, I never felt more loved or cared for. It not only empowered me, it showed me I had options and how to break free from feeling responsible. It’s very hard to set boundaries alone; we need support to remind us that it’s ok to take care of ourselves.
He treated me like I mattered when I didn’t know it myself. I’m still grateful.