Boyfriend or mum at Christmas...
Hi my name's Becks. My partner hates my mum, who is now 76 and on her own, and he is making me choose between her and him at Christmas and I don't know what to do.
I am 43 years old as is John, my partner of 21 years. He wanted to take things slow in the beginning and we didn't move in with each other for approx 9 years. We now live together in London - no kids.
We have never spent Christmas together as we have always gone to our mum's - both our dads died years ago and our mums are on their own. We then come back together on 28 Dec and have our own 2nd Christmas on 29 Dec. I love this arrangement as its fun and keeps everyone happy - or so I thought.
In the beginning it didn't seem "right" to leave either one of our mums alone so we didn't do the usual one year with mine in Surrey, next with his (who is 65) in Northumberland, and that just continued even after we moved in with each other.
John and his mum were never really close and approx. 7 years ago John had a major falling out. Although they resolved things and are on better terms Christmas is now the only time he sees her. Over the last 4 years John has expressed annoyance at having to go up there and wants to spend Christmas with me. I've invited him to mum's every year but he said he'd only be able to justify to his mum for not going to her if he spent it at home.
I have a very different relationship with my mum. My dad died when I was 12 and following my breakdown she was amazing and I'm not sure where I'd be without her. I absolutely adore her and we are incredibly close. Christmas for me is being with my mum and I can't imagine not being with her at Christmas.
I've invited John to mum's for Christmas but he won't come as he doesn't like my mum and never wants to spend time with her. I don't get this as she's wonderful and he is the only person I know who doesn't like her and it's always causing problems with us. I've given up trying to arrange for mum to stay with us for a weekend so I go to mum's every month instead. She is aware he doesn't like her and is always trying to bend over backwards to accommodate him but he doesn't respond. He is polite, don't get me wrong, but there is a definite coldness.
This year has been very different and difficult (for everyone I know) due to the pandemic.
As I am in the vulnerable group and John is a key worker going to work each day dealing with the public we came to the joint decision that I would stay with mum during lockdown and I was there for 5 months. I have been back home for a few weeks but now the cases are on the rise again and looks like a second wave is coming we've agreed I should head back there next week.
John has decided to use the pandemic as a reason to stay at home this Christmas and not go to his mum's in Northumberland and he is wanting me to do the same. I explained that I don't want either my mum or him to be alone at Christmas so suggested either going to mum's or her coming to ours. He replied that he is 43 years old and wants to do what he wants at Christmas and spend it in his own house for once with his partner. He suggested going to mum's the weekend before or after Christmas, which is what other families do, but this would still leave her alone on Christmas Day. This led to an argument and in anger I snapped that I'm not leaving mum on her own and he says I've chosen her over him and it's clear where my loyalties lie.
I am not a horrible person (I hope!) and I don't want him to be alone at Christmas. John is not a horrible person either and I can see how spending Christmas together would be lovely but I can't see how he would be happy to leave a 76 year old on her own at Christmas.
I don't know what to do! Mum is not a young woman. She's slowing down and can't do the things she used to do so easily. I don't know how long she will be here for and that plays on my mind constantly. I can't get over the thought that if I leave her this Christmas alone and it's her last one then I will forever feel guilty about it. John says that's an unfair excuse for choosing her over him but I suffer with depression and anxiety and I know this is how I'd feel.
This is tearing me apart. I want to make them both happy but I can't see how I can without hurting one of them. It would be easier if John could compromise and let mum come to us but I know he won't and he won't budge on this - but then neither will I...
Can anyone suggest a solution to this? Am I being selfish in not respecting his wishes? Should I choose him over mum? Please help.
Eugene Kayser, lic. Marriage & Family Therapist