Originally Posted by AnnabelMore
prescriptive hierarchy ("No you can't come to Yule, Rhoda, I don't share holidays with people with whom I'm in a secondary relationship...") that uses terms to limit one type of relationship, often so as to "protect" another ("...because otherwise what would be special about my relationship with Sue?") are problematic.
I recall beating the fine dividing line between descriptive and prescriptive around the bush a while back as well, and I still find it to be as illusive to put any more generalizations about prescriptive being any more problematic than hierarchies in general. Especially when couched in an obvious protectionist context.
But what is so wrong about trying to protect an existing relationship? I digress.
I would venture that even prescription does have it's place. In your example of Rhonda, the question that needs to be asked is why are secondaries not a part of Yule?
Possible Answers include:
1. (The probably assumed version) Yule is important to Sue so it's just for us so that she is not threatened by your presence in my life.
2. We want the kids to appear to have holidays like "normal" families, so we keep it to just family.
3. Holidays involve a lot of family, and we're not "out" to them yet, so we just suck it up to play the part as a conventional couple.
4. <fill in own excuse here>
None of these reasons, or a hundred others will necessarily assuage the hurt, anger, rejection, etc. that Rhonda might feel about the situation, but there should be some difference in the accusations of protectionism and couple-centric co-dependency about Rhonda and I depending on if the prescription was due to reason #1, or #3.