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Carolyn Hax: Help out daughter in failing marriage

Wed., Nov. 13, 2013, midnight

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. We thought she was just so glad to be truly wanted she didn’t think it through, but he had some good qualities. 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. She nicely asked us not to criticize her husband and we backed off.

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’s said she’s afraid no one else will ever want her. She wants a divorce but is still a student and asks us to loan her money for a lawyer.

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!! But she is an adult and really needs to do this on her own and not because her parents say so.

What’s our place here? – Parents of a Not-So-Grown-Up? Daughter

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 – unless it is indeed an abuse situation, in which case that’s actually not unreasonable – 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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