(The Root) —
“My boyfriend got a call from his stepmom that his father had a stroke and was taken to the emergency room. Of course, my boyfriend had to go to the hospital, but he wanted his mother to be there, too, even though his parents have been divorced forever. He asked me to drive out of my way to go pick her up, then drive her to the hospital a couple hours away. I said no. He got mad and left to pick up his mother, then drove to see his father. By the time he got to the hospital, his father is dead.
My boyfriend now says I’m the reason he didn’t get to see his father before he passed. I say he was being unreasonable — his parents aren’t even together, and his father has a new wife. Why should I bend over to accommodate? We are nearing a breakup because of this. Help!” —K.M.
Usually when people write in confessing to bad judgment, I can understand how they arrived at their conclusion. One of the most infamous “Ask Demetria” queries was from a married woman who wrote in explaining that she wanted to cheat with her married co-worker and was thinking about leaving her husband for him. That’s clearly a horrible (and drama-filled) idea. But in her query, I gathered that she was unhappy at home and had some issues with her self-esteem, too. The unfortunate combination had led her common sense astray. I got that. But this case? I’m clueless.
Hon, what were you thinking?
Maybe you and I share similar ideas about intermingling with the family of someone you’re dating, which I don’t advocate. Special occasions? Sure. But hanging out just to be hanging? No. You’re dating your partner, not his entire family. If there’s a ring on it and you’re about to become family, get to schmoozing, by all means. A lot of people feel this way.
However, in an emergency situation — such as, say, a relative being admitted to the ER for a serious medical issue like a stroke — you become the family’s best friend. Their job is to worry and fret, and your job is to help out however necessary. Whatever they need, you do it as long as it’s not illegal, doesn’t harm children or animals, won’t leave you bankrupt or put your job in jeopardy. You pitch in because you should care for your partner and the people he loves. Oh, and because it’s just the right thing to do.
What you should have done was pick up the mom with no questions asked other than “What’s her address?” so you could plug it into the GPS, and “What’s her number?” so you could call when you were outside wherever she was. That’s it. Then you were to get in the car and go.
Whether or not you felt it was important for Mom to be at her ex-husband’s side doesn’t matter. Whatever went down in their relationship that led to their divorce doesn’t matter. If there’s a new wife now, it doesn’t matter.