It was the first sign our marriage was over.
Every year after Christmas, my now ex-husband’s parents organized a big family trip. They are very wealthy people and they would book several hotel rooms at some resort and invite the whole family along.
This meant my ex, his siblings, their spouses, and all our kids, would spend the week together somewhere like Sedona, Mammoth, or even Mexico or England. I went along on these trips through the duration of my marriage to my husband until one year I was uninvited.
That year my husband went went on a tropical vacation with his family, leaving me at home with our kids. Looking back, this was the first sign our marriage was over. I ended up divorcing my husband a year later.
Not ironically, I asked for a divorce before the next year’s family trip.
A word about these family vacations.
Before I tell the whole story about why I was uninvited from going on this particular family trip, let me explain more about what these vacations were all about. My in-laws shelled out quite a bit of money for these luxury vacations. They also planned everything.
Not only did they decide where we were going and book the rooms at the resorts, but they organized all the activities we’d do in these exciting locales. It was a generous gesture, but they expected every family member go along with these activities without question.
You weren’t allowed to diverge from the schedule. Yes, that meant even if you didn’t like the activities you had to participate.
Except if you couldn't.
The year we went to Mammoth, I had to sit out the skiing. One, I don’t ski. Also, our children were still quite small that year, so they couldn’t ski and I had to stay with them.
Of course, my husband still joined his family on the slopes while I hung in the lounge, taking care of our children. The same goes for the next year when we all went to Hawaii.
While the family took surfing lessons, I sat alone on the beach. I was pregnant with our second child and was hardly in a position to learn to surf. Our first child was too little to swim out in the choppy ocean either.
But this was also considered my fault. I wasn’t “allowed” to go off on my own anywhere. That would be rude.
If I couldn't participate in the activities, I had to be on call nearby. I put up with this for years. Then came the year when I simply couldn’t participate in the activities.
I had to finish my thesis for graduate school.
I’d gone back to school to pursue an M.A. in English. When December rolled around and it was time for another family vacation, I was in the final stretch of my program. My thesis was due in January and I was behind on it.
Sure, I agreed to go on the vacation, but I purposefully chose to sit out that year’s activities. We went to Yosemite and everybody was hiking. I sat in the hotel room and worked on my paper.
But as a result, my father-in-law became furious with me. How dare I not postpone my work to partake in the activities with the family! It was less about the money he might have wasted on me coming along on this vacation; it was a question of control.
My now ex-father-in-law is the CEO of a company and is used to bossing people around. I hadn’t fallen in line like a good employee.
He was irate.
The problem with my husband.
What was my husband doing while all this was going down, you might ask. He did nothing. He could have stood up to his father. He rarely did that though.
This wasn’t my first argument with my in-laws. We’d fought about so many things. Usually these were stupid arguments about things that weren’t any of my in-laws’ business.
Still, my husband's parents always seemed to have their noses in our affairs. And so, he was always catching himself in the middle, wanting to make both sides happy.
He didn’t want to upset his parents by putting his foot down. But that meant he couldn’t fully side with me.
I always felt like he really sided with his parents. His allegiance was there.
Still, that year, when my father-in-law got so angry at me for working on my thesis and not participating in the vacation activities, my husband could have told his dad to stop , reiterating how important finishing my thesis was to me.
I wasn’t trying to be rude. I just wanted to get my work done so I could get my degree.
But my husband didn’t do that. What’s more, he allowed his father to ultimately uninvite me on the next year’s vacation.
I was uninvited on the yearly family trip the following year.
I’ll never forget the following year when my husband told me that his family would all fly to the Florida Keys. I thought it sounded like an amazing vacation. That’s when my husband told me that he was going alone.
I was not invited. I had been rude on the previous vacation, and his parents didn’t want me around.
At first, I begged my husband to stay home with me. He refused. He went on the trip, leaving me home with our children while he spent a week, vacationing in a tropical paradise.
I spent the week after Christmas alone. I even spent New Year’s Eve alone. It was very depressing.
What’s worse, during my week alone with our children, I kept seeing the beautiful photos that my husband uploaded to Facebook. I can’t deny that I burned with jealousy.
But I also started thinking about asking for a divorce.
I realized our marriage was over.
How could I stay married to a man who wouldn’t support me? He wouldn’t take my side. By not backing me up against his family, he turned his back on me.
It was during that week that I sat alone with my children while my husband partied in the Keys with his family that it dawned on me that I needed to get out of this marriage. I won’t say that I left my husband as soon as he returned home. It took a few more bad things for that to happen, until I finally grew strong enough to ask for a divorce.
But at least I’d finally woken up to all the problems in my marriage.
I learned from the experience.
Now that I’m divorced, it’s easy to look back and think of what I should have done. I should have just left my husband when he went on vacation with his parents — the vacation I wasn’t invited to go on.
I should’ve left him immediately. I didn’t. Shame on me.
It’s easy to be angry at myself about this. When I think about things like that it makes me depressed. But I have to think about the good things that came out of our marriage, too.
I gave birth to two amazing humans. I grew as a person. I learned I need to stand up for myself more.
The first step in doing just that was asking for a divorce. I’ll never forget when I told my husband I wanted to leave him. He acted so surprised. How could he be, what with the way he had been treating me, showing more allegiance to his family than to me?
Now I know if I ever get married again, if my husband goes on a luxury vacation with his family and leaves me at home with the kids, divorce will be immediate.
But I also believe I won’t ever make the same mistake of marrying a man with a family like my ex's again. I’ve learned my lesson.