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Health & Spirit

Holidays bring up painful challenges

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am currently separated from my husband of less than a year, due to some pretty serious rage and respect issues that snowballed immediately after we wed.

My husband has voluntarily enrolled in a 52-week domestic violence course and is committed to recovery and discovering how to be compassionate and empathetic.

On the recommendation of our marriage counselor, we have decided to remain separated for the duration of the course.

We are still very much in love and committed to working through this tough time together, despite being apart.

My question is about the holidays. Would it be appropriate for the two of us to attend family functions together during the holidays, even though we live separately?

We both agree it would be weird for us and our family, but on the other hand, we are committed, still married and doing all we can to save our marriage. It would feel confusing for everyone if we showed up together, but it seems a shame to spend this time apart.

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Please help us decide, is there something we aren't considering?

-- Wife-ing at a distance

Dear Wife-ing: My instinct is that it would NOT be wise for the two of you to jointly attend family events over the holidays. The reason isn't necessarily because it would be "weird" for everyone, but mainly because the holidays provide an almost constant stream of triggers (including alcohol, family, in-laws, high expectations, disappointment, noise, late nights, stress, gift-giving and fruitcake). The winter holiday season can drive otherwise balanced people into a rage state.

I think it would be wisest to be low-key this year and avoid questions and the judgment of family members, who might want to confront your husband over his treatment of you. It would be best for him to complete treatment before facing your family in a group setting.

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