My husband insists I visit his sick mother during Bon

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female part-time worker in my 50s. I want to seek your advice on whether to visit my husband’s parental home.

His mother has been diagnosed with dementia. She can take of herself at the moment, and my sister-in-law who lives nearby sometimes helps her.

Early this year when my husband and I visited his family home, I was urged by my sister-in-law to visit during the mid-August Bon period and the New Year season because my mother-in-law’s condition had deteriorated. Previously, my husband went back home for the Bon period alone.

I’m busy working part-time at a leisure facility in summer, so I can’t take days off in the Bon period. When I told my husband that I could take days off after the holiday period, he was furious. He said that such duties as taking care of meals for his mother and tending to his family grave have been imposed on my sister-in-law and that I should shoulder some of these tasks.

My husband even told me to quit my job, but we have two children who are university students. Our life would become tough without the income from my part-time work.

He said that even if I consult with his sister and she says that it’s all right for me to visit the parental home only when I can, he would not accept it. It pains me to think that these conversations are going to continue in the future.

N, Chiba Prefecture

Dear Ms. N:

You said your husband previously visited his parental home alone in the Bon period. He suddenly began insisting that you should also visit because his sister said so, is that correct? That must have stirred a long-held desire that a wife should accompany her husband to his parental home.

But you have reasons for being unable to do so. First of all, it’s important to tell your sister-in-law why you can’t go and ask her to explain the reason to him. Also, you have two children who are university students — you should rely on them for help as well. You work for your family. Under these circumstances, it’s natural to seek cooperation from them. Your mother-in-law will be pleased if her grandchildren visit her in the Bon period, and this may also help your husband keep his dignity.

When someone unreasonably insists on something, it is often because he or she is dissatisfied with something else. In the case of a husband, such an insistence could mean that he is displeased with his wife’s love or consideration for him. An acquaintance of mine said that in such a situation she sends a text message with a heart emoji to her husband, which can be effective. On this occasion, it may help in the future to try out different ways to find out what works with him.

Megumi Hisada, writer

(from May 4, 2018, issue)Speech

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