Direct Answers - Column for the week of June 16, 2003
I enjoy reading your column every week. I want to tell you about a family problem I am having at present. Recently our youngest daughter divorced after 22 years of marriage and two teenagers. This was a great shock to all the family as she never told anyone of her unhappy situation.
Now she is living with her high school sweetheart, who is also divorced. She says she is very, very happy. My big problem is that my husband of 54 years will not accept the situation and refuses to speak to this daughter.
I am not happy either, but have accepted it as I want to keep communication open with my daughter. How should I handle this problem with my husband?
Adelle, we live in tornado country, and a few weeks ago several small towns near us were almost totally destroyed. Many people lost their home, their possessions, and their livelihood. The next morning some people were clearing rubble and rebuilding their lives, while others were wandering around stunned by their loss.
We vary enormously in our responses. Some people heal faster than others, and some adjust to change faster than others. Your husband lost a part of his life, and a son-in-law, he never expected to lose. Perhaps he is like the tough old oak not easily bent. You are more like the willow which is flexible and bends in a storm without breaking.
For now, you need to give your husband the time he needs to adapt to the change and be the flexible connection between father and daughter. You are like the old-style telephone operator making connections between two people. As long as you are in touch with both, keeping each aware of the other, you keep the distance between them from getting too great.
That is a positive, not a negative. There needs to be a little time for healing all around for everyone in this situation. Perhaps in time, or in a crisis, the connection can be made more direct. Your husband and your daughter may only be one incident, or one holiday,
away from coming together.
Wayne and Tamara
My boyfriend and I have always had our differences, and though we are both strong-headed, we have learned to appreciate each other. We've been talking about marriage, but there is one issue I cannot get past. He is so selfish!
He contributes little to the household duties and financial obligations such as food and cleaning supplies. He spends large amounts of money on weekends and vacations with the boys, but can only rarely take me out to dinner. He shops the Wal-Mart clearance racks for holiday gifts. Christmas was a toothbrush and bath mats.
I strongly dislike the area we live in and would like to relocate. He says he grew up here and will never live anywhere else. I was recently laid off, and the only positions in my field are in other cities. I want to work so I can fulfill my half of the financial obligations, but he says he cannot leave and I should just keep looking.
Prudence, opportunity knocks all the time, but the problem is we usually can't recognize it for what it is. We expect the Prize Patrol to show up with balloons and a check for a million dollars. That isn't going to happen. Usually opportunity shows up as something mundane, like getting laid off from our job and thinking about where our life is headed.
You are thinking about marriage, but you should be thinking about 50 years of bath mats and toothbrushes from a selfish man. You want to keep up your half, but where is his half?
You've been given an opportunity to live where you choose. When you go there, you may find a man who doesn't have differences you can't live with.
Wayne and Tamara
About the Author
Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com.
Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.