Maintain Marital Bliss by Compromising on Conflicting Family Obligations

Demetria Lucas D’Oyley
Generic image

Dear Demetria:

My husband’s younger brother is turning 30, lives in another state and is planning a night-out party. My family reunion is the same weekend and I’d like us to go. He says he is going to hang with his brother and not go to the reunion. Can you weigh in here? Am I wrong for expecting my husband to go with me? It’s our first as a married couple. —Anonymous


You’re not wrong … but neither is your husband. You have a scheduling conflict; surely it’s not the first time and won’t be the last. Instead of focusing on who is wrong or right here, focus on how to resolve this conflict.

The obvious solution is for your husband to attend his brother’s party and the family reunion. I don’t know the distance between these two events or whether that is possible. But if he can spend a little time with his brother and with you, that’s ideal.

If the distance between the two events just doesn’t make attending both possible, then your husband should attend his brother’s birthday party.

That’s not what you wanted to hear, I know. I’m also newly married, and I like doing firsts with my husband:“Ooh! Our first married date!” “Ooh! Our first married Christmas!” “Ooh! Our first married New Year’s!” We’ve done all these things for years as a couple, mind you, but it’s all new and shiny again because now we’re married. You probably want another “first” at the family reunion.


Either that, or you want to show your husband off to the family members who weren’t at the wedding. I get it. Completely. Surely, there are relatives who had a lot to say about your being single for however long you were, and it will feel absolutely awesome in the moment to show up with your husband and smugly rub it in. I have petty moments, too. I understand.

But your reasoning—as stated in your question—isn’t worth your husband missing his brother’s 30th birthday.


Had you told me that there is a great-aunt or grandmother who is ill and/or well past 80 and might not make the next reunion and you desperately want your husband to see her, that would fly. A dying or aging relative trumps a brother’s 30th birthday, and you would have a very valid argument for your husband’s attendance at the reunion. But “I want you to because it’s important to me and I want to stunt with you” isn’t as valid. And your reasoning for having him with you is inconsiderate, knowing that he has a major family commitment of his own. 

The idea is that when you get married, you and your partner become “one.” That’s a lot easier in theory than it is in application, as I’m sure you’re aware. Do understand, you’re still “one,” even when you do things apart. His family matters to him, just as your family matters to you. Your husband’s attendance at his brother’s celebration instead of your family reunion isn’t an indication that the marriage is falling apart or there’s a lack of focus. It is an indication that both of you have strong bonds with your families. That’s it. Don’t make this conflict any bigger than it has to be.


Send him off to see his brother with your blessing. Go to the family reunion if you want to see your relatives—or skip it and go to the next one with him so that you can still have your “first as a married” moment.

Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at


Previously in Ask Demetria: “Living Under Mom’s Roof Gives Her the Right to Control Your Life, Even if You Are Grown

Share This Story