J. Peirano: The secret code of love: My husband goes out to party and I can conjure up Christmas spirit for our four children - alone

Dear Ms.

J. Peirano: The secret code of love: My husband goes out to party and I can conjure up Christmas spirit for our four children - alone

Dear Ms. Peirano,

Now the Christmas season is coming and with our four children (10, 8 (twins), 3) there is always too much to do. The school and the daycare centers expect more commitment and sociability and of course that is important for the children. But there are also a lot of extra dates: lantern walking, preparing the nativity play, Advent singing, children's theater, Christmas party, etc.

I also decorate the whole house beautifully, make Advent calendars for each child (yes, 96 packages!) and organize how we can get our far-flung relatives under one roof. We often have to travel 400 km to one of the grandmothers on an Advent weekend so that the children can see them. Of course, singing, baking cookies and reading aloud are also part of it.

I enjoy doing all of this, and as a child I was able to experience a wonderful Christmas because my parents were very loving and made everything possible. The difference is that my parents did the work together. My father hung up the Christmas lights, also bought presents and baked cookies with us. My parents took us to lantern walking etc. because that was important to my father. And my mother was mostly a housewife and had time for that. I work part-time and the company is always busy in December.

What really makes me sad is that I have to do this all alone. My husband doesn't care about Christmas. His family consisted of his overwhelmed mother, his father had a new family. His mother opened a plastic Christmas tree and bought some cookies, that was it. At Christmas he sat with her depressed in front of red cabbage from the jar and roulades from the supermarket, and then it was quickly over again.

It's very sad for me to hear that, especially when I compare it with my beautiful childhood: fires and reading aloud in Advent, singing together, often going to church as a family, loving Advent calendars, St. Nicholas and Christmas presents. It was all magical. I want to pass this on to our children.

But it just doesn't feel good that my husband is opting out. He works a lot, I think he intentionally stays at work longer than he has to. And he often goes to the Christmas market or Christmas parties with his colleagues to “celebrate”. In plain language: to get drunk. It really bothers me when he comes home drunk every week while the children are sleeping peacefully in their rooms and in their perfect Christmas world.

I even dreamed recently that a wild boar stormed into our living room and wallowed on our sofa and made everything dirty. I guess I don't have to explain what that means...

My husband and I are fundamentally very different in our commitment to the family. From January to November things go fairly well because he is involved in the children's soccer training and other sporting events. But in December he somehow quits internally and becomes this unpleasant man who just does his own thing.

I also dread Christmas. My husband is usually mentally absent and a bit grumpy. He also doesn't manage to give me anything nice, so we gave up on that a few years ago. I feel like an actress who is playing "merry family at Christmas" with the children and there is a stranger sitting next to him who is watching everything critically or disinterestedly and who has written on his forehead: "When will this finally be over again?"

Do you have any approaches or tips for me?

Kind regards, Natalie B.

I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. During my doctorate, I researched the connection between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.

Information about my therapeutic work can be found at www.julia-peirano.info.

Do you have questions, problems or heartache? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on stern.de.

Dear Natalie B.,

It sounds like there's an unbridgeable gap between you and your husband this Christmas season, and it's definitely very painful!

You explain this very well with the different experiences you both had at Christmas in your childhood. Your loving childhood with parents who worked hand in hand to give their children a wonderful time. The Advent weeks were certainly a particularly beautiful and intense time for you every year with many good memories.

In return, your husband's sad childhood with a somewhat disinterested and cold-seeming mother who was overwhelmed with her life (or disappointed or bitter) and only did the bare minimum to get Christmas over with quickly and easily. I can imagine that the Christmas season was particularly sad for your husband. Perhaps as a little boy he also felt sadness or envy when he saw the beautiful and loving rituals that took place in his friends' families or on television.

Maybe he felt helpless, neglected and unloved. Apparently he has separated these feelings and internally distanced himself from the "children's Christmas season" because the memory is too painful. Now he sees in his own children what he has missed: self-made Advent calendars, cozy singing and reading aloud, a warm, loving home. And since he has split it off, it hurts him, but the pain is buried and cannot be clearly named.

Her husband has found a coping mechanism for himself: He has designed a "men's Christmas" in the sense of: "I'm no longer a helpless, unloved child, but a grown man. And I don't need elves, Santa Clauses and all that childish stuff that you see but I don't get it. I don't need a family who can disappoint me, I'm grown up and out of the suffering. I earn my own money and can do real manly things with it, like go to the Christmas market, have a drink and celebrate with other adults. "

I imagine it would help your husband if you were understanding of his feelings as a child. Maybe this will get through to him and his separate (dissociated) feelings if you mention that it's sad that he didn't have all of that as a child and was certainly particularly sad at Christmas time. Then you can get to the adult level with him, where you are both parents of four children, and ask him how you want to handle the Christmas season together and what he wants to take on.

Here's a very simple but incredibly effective tip that always works: If you have a conflict with someone, you should address that person on an equal footing and ask how you can solve it together.

In the many years that I have listened to my patients, no one has ever complained that in a conflict situation someone said kindly: "You, we have a problem with each other here. What is your idea of ​​how we should be able to solve it and deal with it?"

The problems usually arise when I impose my own ideas on my partner and tell him how he should behave. Or when I just do things (book a vacation for myself; redecorate the apartment, invite my mother over for Christmas) without asking for a shared solution first.

And then see if you two can come to a cooperation instead of a fight. It might be better if your husband goes skiing over Christmas and you celebrate with your parents. Maybe it would also be an eye-opener if you agreed on this just once, for example for the coming year. Then he can calmly feel what it's like without his family and whether he really wants that. And it's also a clear boundary that you draw: "I don't want you here at Christmas in such a bad mood and mentally absent."

Or your husband deals with his childhood issue and then you can find a solution together in couples counseling on how you can spend Christmas. Maybe more winter walks than these Santa Claus Advent calendar triggers that will emotionally catapult your husband back to his unhappy childhood. Apparently your husband is more of an outdoor sports type.

I have two more book tips for you to help you think about your role as a working mother and better appreciate the “little” things in everyday life.

Iris Radisch, “The School for Women: How we reinvent the family,” Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt.

Alexandra Zykunov, "We've all been equal for a long time! 25 bullshit sentences and how we can finally break them down", Ullstein paperback.

I hope that you manage to reconsider your position and have a constructive conversation with your husband about the Christmas season. Whether together or separately.

Herzlich GrüßeJulia Peirano

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