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Dad Irate After Wife Refuses To Let Him Spend More Time With Dying Friend During Family Vacation

Man with cancer hugging loved one
Phynart Studio/Getty Images

Spending quality time with our family members is undeniably important, so family vacations feel fairly sacred to some.

Trying to include other events during that vacation, even if they are important, may feel inappropriate or impossible, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Lancegoodthrust54215 didn’t quite see it that way, however, because an old friend was dying from cancer.

But when his wife criticized him for wanting to see his friend during their family vacation, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he was wrong for stealing focus.

He asked the sub:

“WIBTA (Would I Be the A**hole) for telling my wife I’m unhappy with how she planned our family vacation?”

The OP’s wife recently organized a family vacation for them.

“My wife and I have pre-teen triplets who we take on vacation every year.”

“Some critical information is that while we share finances, she makes about three times what I do and we (or more accurately, she) use her bonus each year for vacations. She is happy to do this as far as I know.”

“This year I suggested Colorado. Not only is it one of the most beautiful areas in our country, but I happened to be stationed there many years ago.”

“Also, it would provide me with the opportunity to spend time with, and possibly say goodbye to one of my closest friends who has stage four liver cancer.”

The OP wanted to spend some time with his friend during the vacation.

“I expressed my wish to spend some quality time with him as she was booking the trip. She stated we weren’t going to fly all the way there just to hang out at his house and planned many activities for the week.”

“He has an in-ground pool and stuff in his backyard, so a day or two there wouldn’t have been ‘boring.'”

“We just got home from this trip, and due to her scheduling activities for the vast majority of the time, I got to see my friend cumulatively for less than half of a day.”

“I went last year after learning about his diagnosis, but he’s gotten a lot worse. We had already planned on going to Colorado, but the bonus was that I’d be able to see him. I just didn’t know that we’d be so busy I’d only have a few hours to spend with him.”

“And to clarify, she would not have been comfortable taking the kids to any of the activities without me.”

The OP felt conflicted.

“He just texted me to thank me for visiting, but expressed some frustration that we had so little time together.”

“I shared the same feeling, as it may be the last time I see him.”

“My wife wanted to squeeze every last bit of fun out of the trip for the kids, so the time with my friend was sacrificed. I didn’t feel right questioning that at the moment, but after getting his text that he wished we had more time, I’m second-guessing myself.”

“WIBTA for telling her I’m upset that she didn’t allocate more time for me to see him? I’m already questioning myself because we went on ‘her dime.'”

“WIBTA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some pointed out the OP should have been more involved if he wanted a different plan.

“ESH. She for steamrolling over your request, but also you for not actually saying no to an activity or two and doing some of the planning on your own.”

“Maybe if you had taken a bit of initiative and said, ‘Here’s a list of three activities I found that you and the kids could do together while I visit my friend,’ she would have been more amenable.”

“Family vacations are generally not the time for one parent to go off and do a separate trip, however. Ultimately the better option would have been a solo trip to see your friend and a separate vacation where you would be fully present to your family.” – RealTalkFastWalk

“ESH.”

“I feel like OP puts a lot, if not all, of the planning, prep, and payment onto the wife, while she’s right to plan it however she likes since she’s the one doing EVERYTHING in the first place.”

“I can understand you wanting to see your friend since life is short and cancer is horrific. Maybe you should plan a trip to see your friend alone? Or next time it’s vacation time, you should do all the planning, prep, and payment, and that way, you can allocate two or three days to spend with your friend.”

“Be more involved in logistics, OP, and maybe then, you’ll both have a better time.” – CaramelKush96

“ESH. She’s controlling and you couldn’t tell her that you needed a day or two and be firm about it? You can’t blame her for something you went along with. It would have been as easy as saying, ‘Hey, I’m not busy this day, go to the pool with them.'”

“But yes, tell her that what she did was pretty terrible, and use that conversation to set future boundaries. She didn’t ‘not let you’ go, though. You chose not to go because you didn’t want to stand up for yourself.”

“And your friend is left feeling like he wasn’t worth your time, and rightly so.” – TrixAre4Adults2

“Were you given the chance to help plan? if you decided to just it to her, then ESH just because you expected her to ‘allocate’ time for your friend. If you had expectations for the trip, this is something that you should have discussed with her while planning it together.”

“Having said that, your wife should have been more considerate with making plans that she could have done with the kids so you could spend time with your dying friend.”

“But if she refused to let you have a say, then NTA because you obviously couldn’t do anything, and you did the right thing by not causing an argument mid-trip.” – TimWhortons

“ESH. You really should have spent more time with her on the planning. It is odd that you were surprised by the itinerary.”

“When you relinquish the power but also the responsibility to someone else, and you just go with the flow, this is what happens. You reap the benefit of never having to do the work or take on responsibility, but you also have no control over your own life. Time to change that dynamic.”

“Yes, she could have been more inclusive of your needs; yes, she could have taken the kids to some activities on her own. But you clearly don’t participate in the workload (yes, WORK!) of planning and so she treats you like one of the kids.” – Shells613

Others suggested the OP should organize a second trip instead of complaining.

“ESH. First, you are an adult with autonomy. Book a flight and go spend a long weekend with your friend. This means paying for it, but if you are just staying at his home it wouldn’t be that expensive.”

“When your wife throws a fit, say, ‘I already resent the lack of time I have with this person. If they die and I don’t see him for more than the four measly hours you gave me, then I will resent you for the rest of mine.'”

“‘If that’s what you want for our marriage, so be it. You can be upset, but I’m already upset, so I’m flying out to actually spend time and say goodbye and we can go to couples counseling when I get back.'”

“Your wife sucks in that she could have given you at least one whole day/evening to spend with your friend and did solo with the kids knowing how important this person is to you and why you suggested it in the first place.” – catinnameonly

“ESH. She could have spent more time there, yes, but you could have also visited on your own if it meant so much to you.”

“In fact, you could go back on your own. Do that. Tell her how you feel and spend a weekend there with your own money. Don’t hold a grudge against her for this.” – somewhereinthestars

“I think ESH if the wife is really emphasizing that her money is the reason she gets to say what they do (I’m unclear if she’s expressing that or that’s his internalized idea) because that’s a crappy attitude.”

“But really, a family vacation should be separate from his trip to see and say goodbye to his friend.”

“Or they could go to the same place but he could stay longer or go earlier. Or he should be very clear that’s what he wanted to do with the trip and not pretend he was in family vacation mode, and negotiate how they could do both successfully while understanding some ideas are incompatible.”

“OP, can you go see your friend on a separate trip at all?” – berrieh

“ESH. You should not have tailored a family vacation around visiting and saying goodbye to a dear friend. That should be a separate trip for you to take.”

“Was there any reason this couldn’t have been separate? The ESH is because it seems like there was an obvious solution that was not addressed.” – Horror-Ebb-2106

“YTA. This reads quite entitled to me. Your wife uses her money, it doesn’t matter that she earns more really, and she plans and pays for a family vacation.”

“And you want to hijack the family vacation and leave her alone with three pre-teens so you can hang out with an old friend? Fair enough he is sick, but why didn’t you go visit before? Why now, just because he’s sick?”

“If you wanna see him so much, save your own money, take time off work, and go see him. Don’t make your family vacation about you hanging with your friend. Half a day is plenty when you’re only there for a week, to be honest, and on a FAMILY vacation.” – DnDRobynUK

Though people could understand someone’s need to say goodbye to a friend, they didn’t think that a family vacation that involved fairly young children was the time or the place to do that.

If the OP wanted more time with his friend, they argued he should have been more involved in the planning or funding of the trip, or that he should take another mini-trip himself to make up for the lack of time.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.