Dilemmas: I've ruined the family Christmas

Rosie has ended her 30-year marriage in a friendly way, but the children blame her. Her married daughter, who has children, says there's no point celebrating Christmas now, and her son's going abroad with his wife, in pique. Her parents say she's ruined everything. Rosie wants to spend Christmas with her new boyfriend but her husband wants to spend it with her. What should she do?

VIRGINIA'S ADVICE

I HAVE a feeling that everyone will be writing in saying: "But what do you want, Rosie?" It's very fashionable to encourage people to put themselves first. That exceptionally unpleasant and selfish phrase, "Go for it!" features in too many of my letters. And this time I'd like to put a case for those who would, on occasions, like to put other people first.

Now Rosie has split up with her husband. She's "gone for it" and I'm certain that was a good move. But whether she has to "go for it!" to the hilt, is arguable.

It doesn't really matter how amicably you split up with your partner, the children are going to experience it as a family split, and although Rosie and her husband may be very happy to part, it doesn't mean that everyone else is keen on the situation. Everyone else being people like her parents and her children, who depend on the stability of a central family life.

When you split up with a partner, it's not just between you two. You have also to consider all those people who depend on your partnership. So having been selfish, and probably rightly so, perhaps Christmas is the time when Rosie should think about being unselfish. It's only for a day or so, after all, and if it means a lot to her children and her parents why not?

Now her son has said he's going to go abroad with his wife. Rosie should find out whether this is what he really wants to do or whether he's running off in an embittered rage. It might be what he and his wife have been dying to do for the last few years, and only a sense of duty binds them to the family Christmas.

Her daughter sounds the most hurt. Anyone who says they're simply going to give up celebrating Christmas, despite what the grandchildren might think, is very angry and upset indeed. It might well be worth getting back with her husband just for Christmas so that her daughter's hurt can be lessened. And then there are the parents. I think they ought to be made well aware of the fact that the split was amicable and that Rosie is still friends with her husband.

So my feeling is that for everyone's sake, for this Christmas at least, Rosie ought to get together with her husband, have a family Christmas, and show a united front. In the long run it will do her good. After all, if her husband's not upset by the split, how can the rest of the family be furious?

By seeing the husband being friendly and nice, they'll hopefully take a cue from him. If he's not angry, how can they be? Yes, I'm sure Rosie would like to spend this Christmas with her new lover. But she's had her own way a lot recently. Next Christmas, who knows? But this Christmas, when everyone's feeling mortally wounded by the big split, is the time to present a united front and say: "We may not be living together, but as far as you're concerned, we're still mum and dad."

In the long run this would be a good move for Rosie. It would dissolve the blame and make everyone feel more relaxed and compassionate. It's a big Christmas, too, with the Millennium ahead. So, in the last Christmas of this century, I think Rosie and her husband should make a show of togetherness, as evidence not just of the death of their old relationship but of the birth of something new.

READERS SAY

What is best for you?

I think there are times in people's lives when they seem to move on and leave behind much of what was familiar. Fresh opportunities arise which lead to new relationships, new work, new activities and so on. Perhaps this is such a time for Rosie.

Initial thoughts can be very revealing. After reflection it is all too easy to change one's mind, retract something, or even deny what was said. Rosie's initial desire is that she would like to spend Christmas with her new partner. Does she really want to spend Christmas with the man she has left?

Similarly, does she really want to sacrifice her happiness in order to succumb to the desperate needs of her son and daughter?

It seems to me that Rosie is taking a few risks and trying to build a new life after the death of her marriage. Now she needs to ask what is best for herself. After all, she has experienced many years of marriage. Her family are adults and it is up to them to deal with their own feelings of loss. However, they are extended family, and family members can continue to support each other through thick and thin.

NICHOLAS E GOUGH

Swindon

Wiltshire

Family is being selfish

My advice to Rosie from today's Independent dilemma is as follows. Rosie must have had very good reasons for separating from her husband; her family should respect this and stop emotionally blackmailing her.

Rosie, after 30 years of marriage and bringing up a family, surely it's now time for you to do what you want. Spend Christmas with your new man friend and enjoy yourself. If your family really care about you, they will see that you are doing the right thing and they are being selfish and manipulative.

ALAN SMITH

Leeds

West Yorkshire

Please yourself at Christmas

Now is the time that Rosie should "go for it"! She's broken up with her husband, and her family have simply got to come to terms with the new situation. If they blame her, wrongly, that's their problem, not hers. Let them sort out their own Christmases for once, instead of depending on "good old mum".

If Rosie wants to spend this Christmas with her new friend, fine. If she wants to go to the Bahamas on her own, fine. But now she's her own woman, and for the first time in her life she can do what she wants to do.

MARCELLE PETERS

Liverpool

Next Week's Dilemma

Dear Virginia,

My first marriage was very violent, but I'm now with a lovely man who absolutely hates conflict of any kind. We used to have a good sex life, but I realised that it was becoming a chore for him, so even though we're both highly sexed, we satisfy ourselves. But the trouble is that he no longer even cuddles me.

I've become so frustrated that I have one-night stands with people at work, which isn't doing my reputation any good in the office. I'm tired, resentful and irritable. Our relationship isn't good or bad, it's just a grey nothingness.

Do I stay with him because he's a stable and pleasant companion? Or should I leave him and become another middle-aged "want it all and want it now" person, searching for the ultimate lover?

Yours sincerely, Erin

Anyone with advice quoted will be sent a bouquet from . Send letters and dilemmas to Virginia Ironside at `The Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, fax 0171-293 2182; or e-mail dilemmas@ independent. co.uk, giving a postal address

Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride