Our family is complicated. My wife and I divorced over 20 years ago. I’ve been dating Sally for the last 6 years and now we are living together. I feel very fortunate at my age to have found someone I care about and enjoy being with. Unfortunately, my daughter Sara doesn’t feel the same. She has repeatedly called Sally a gold digger and thinks Sally is only with me because of my money. Sara usually hosts our High Holiday dinners. It’s a special time that I love, being with my son and daughter and all my grandchildren.
This year, Sara has told me I am more than welcome, but Sally is not. What am I supposed to do? Do I go without Sally? She will be so hurt.
Torn Between Families
Dear Torn Between Families,
Sara has drawn a line in the sand. She is saying either you choose your new partner or the rest of your family, but you can’t have both. Your daughter is not being fair to you. You have made a decision to have Sally in your life, which makes her part of your family.
Is this fair or right? Not in my opinion. But Sara also has a right, no matter how misguided and disrespectful, to set boundaries in her home.
This is an enormous strain on you and, I’m sure, the rest of your family. For some reason, Sara has hardened her heart and dug in her heels. Maybe she feels her inheritance is in jeopardy, which makes this situation all the more despicable. Now it’s up to you.
Only you can make this decision, but I urge you to be careful to giving into this blackmail. It won’t end with a Rosh Hashanah invite, and you have Sally’s integrity and your relationship on the line. This, however, is your decision to make.
Maybe you could host a Rosh Hashanah dinner of your own. If not at your home, then at a restaurant or catered in a party room – a sort of symbolic occasion rather than one on the holidays. Invite everyone, your whole family. My guess is that Sara will not allow her family to attend, but at least you will be able to be with your son and his family. What does your son have to say about this?
Have you tried to have Sara and Sally in the same room together to talk things out? Money is often at the root of many of these kinds of problems. Your daughter has put money ahead of the relationship you have with your family and especially your grandchildren, who have no say. I truly hope that one of your family members can get through to her to put her feelings aside for a few hours at Rosh Hashanah, a time when reflection, forgiveness and family are at the top of the list.
My girlfriends and I were on a lovely day of shopping when we decided to stop for a lunch break at a high-end restaurant. The waitress was exceptionally friendly and helpful. We laughed and talked with her while she explained the daily specials. She had a distinct accent. I asked her where she was from and she answered, “Palestine.” I think we were all surprised and didn’t know what to say. I said, “Oh, yes, I’ve been to Israel.” The mood changed after that. We continued to enjoy our day, but now the topic changed from “How does this outfit look on me?” to what we should have said. What do you think?
Caught off Guard
Dear Caught off Guard,
Your answer was fine and that was enough. What would you gain by coming up with any type of response? Did you want to start a political argument right there in the restaurant? Some people would say you should confront her, that there is no such country as Palestine, but this was not the time or place. As you said, she was doing an excellent job and was very pleasant. I would have continued my enjoyable day with my friends and left the excellent waitress an appropriate tip for a job well done.