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 | By Dr. Manuel P. Santos and Karee Santos

She says: I want to go to his high school reunion

Joe’s high school reunion is coming up and I was looking forward to meeting all his former classmates and their spouses. He wants to go to the reunion by himself, though, and I’m hurt that he doesn’t want to take me.

He says: I want to go by myself

I think Melissa will be bored with all these people she’s never met. And I’ll be worrying about whether she’s having a good time, so I won’t be able to relax and enjoy myself. I think we could spend this one social occasion apart.

What do they do?

High school years are usually filled with drama and angst, and reunions can bring it all back. Adding your spouse to the mix can introduce more stress to an already high-pressure situation. Most people do show up to reunions with their spouses, but some don’t.

Many people feel insecure about their high school years, although Joe is not flat-out admitting that. People get labeled as the geek or the jock, the most likely to succeed or the one with the best smile. It’s hard to handle all the old expectations. Opening up to Melissa about his high school years might make Joe feel more comfortable including her at the reunion.

Maybe if Joe looks more closely at the planned activities, he’ll discover that bringing Melissa makes sense. Reunion weekends often schedule one party for alumni only, one event for alumni and spouses and sometimes a family picnic for people who want to bring their kids. Joe could get the time he wants to spend alone with his friends, while including Melissa in the weekend also.

If Joe contacts his friends ahead of time, he might find out that most of them are bringing their wives. At a lot of reunions, the wives enjoy meeting each other and chatting about the major thing they already have in common – their husbands. The husbands don’t have to worry too much about entertaining their wives. On the other hand, if Joe’s friends have decided not to bring their wives, Melissa might feel uncomfortable and therefore happier about sitting this one out. But if Joe’s real reason for going alone is to re-enact some youthful indiscretions, then maybe Joe ought to stay home, too.

Unless Melissa has real concerns about Joe’s underlying motivations, she should feel OK about letting him go without her. As Pope Francis recently advised spouses, “We do not have to control the other person, to follow their every step.” He went on to say, “There comes a point where a couple’s love attains the height of its freedom and becomes the basis of a healthy autonomy.” (Amoris Laetitia, 115, 320)