Dear Carolyn • My daughter, coming off several bad relationships, met a man and within a month was engaged. My husband and I had real reservations once we met him. He seemed immature, and self-centered. He came from a very dysfunctional family and had made some life decisions that showed bad judgment. We thought she was just so glad to be truly wanted she didn't think it through, but he had some good qualities, especially supporting her going to grad school. We smiled, supported her right to make her own decision and gave them a nice wedding. Within a year or two our worries were much stronger and linked to definite behaviors (never violence) and we did speak to her and, in a few cases, him. Fast-forward three years, daughter is now 30, and there are real cracks in this marriage. She's calling crying and says she cannot see a future with him. She specifically asks us to be honest about our real opinions. She's said she's afraid no one else will ever want her and this is the best she can do. She wants a divorce but is still a student and asks us to loan her money for a lawyer. She's confused. We tell her she should speak to a therapist to figure out what she really wants and a marriage counselor to lay it out with the two of them together. What we really want is to tell her to Run Now! Fast!! What's our place here?
Parents of a Not So Grown Up? Daughter
Dear Parents • There are beds they make that grown children must lie in for their own good, but a marriage that set your alarm bells clanging, from the very beginning and increasingly so over time, is not one of them. You were hands-off when you needed to be, and that gives you more leeway now. I'm not suggesting you travel the many miles to go scoop her off her doorstep but it sounds as if you're in a position to be able to pay for a lawyer and a therapist.* So, do it: Those are tools she can use to get herself out of this mess and the larger, "several bad relationships" mess that led up to it thereby enabling her in the "make possible" sense and not in the "render dependent and relegate to living indefinitely in your basement" sense.
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