A problem shared: I’m ashamed of my daughter

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Something troubling you? Share it with your new BFs, Jo Davison and Nik Brear

I was shocked and saddened when my only daughter announced she and her husband were splitting up last month.

They had only been married for three years and are still in their late 20s; they have given up so easily.

Me and her dad, who have been married for 31 years, are still paying the loan we took out for their wedding. It seems like such a waste; that lovely day, all those hopes and dreams, gone.

But what really distresses us is that we love our son-in-law so much and he has come to us to talk.

He is obviously in a lot of emotional pain and adores our daughter. He wants her back and I think he would like us to help.

He’s told us that the reason for the break-up is because she’s met someone else. That really shocked us. My daughter hasn’t said a word about it. I can barely believe it of her. How could she do that to him? And how could she not tell me and her dad what was going on? We have always been very close.

She just says they split because they couldn’t live together any more, they weren’t suited, getting married was a mistake and she wants to make a clean break of things.

They don’t have children and she says she just wants to move on with her life and put her marriage behind her.

That’s alright for her, but our son-in-law has had to move out into a grim little flat and it is so upset he’s not eating properly and has had to take sick leave from his job. I’m worried about him. He seems to be in a terrible state. She’s not been fair to him and wish I could do more to help him.

I love my daughter very much, but if she really has cheated on him I think she’s behaved very badly towards him and I will find it hard to forgive her.

Me and her dad didn’t bring her up that way.

We’ve always tried to teach her that love, loyalty and honesty are the most important things in life and that marriage should be for keeps.

Would it be so wrong to help our son-in-law and confront our daughter about her behaviour?

Jo advises:

Your daughter and son-in-law lasted just three years as man and wife; that’s shocking to you, but the national average, I’m afraid to say.

I read only a week ago that what we used to call the seven-year itch is no longer. Couples are scratching out their relationships after an average of two years and nine months.

I cannot but agree with you that many don’t seem willing to put the work in; they’re off at the first sign of trouble, filing the decree nisi while moving in with the latest ‘love of their life.’ It’s Takeaway Mentality; have your fill, then chuck away what’s left.

But I also suspect an unhealthy proportion of brides are more in love with having their perfect day then they are the groom. If your daughter more thrilled at the prospect of being a bride than being a wife, and has since been having an affair behind the back of a thoroughly decent man, she’s a selfish, manipulative and hard-hearted woman.

Now, does that description make you wince in recognition, or rail with indignation? If the latter, it suggests she IS still the girl you know her to be - and there’s more to this than your son-in-law is telling you. Though neither is your daughter, and that is worrying me.

You’ve always been close. So WHY hasn’t she confided in you if things have been going wrong? She may have been secretive to spare you from worry - or because she’s having an affair and knows you will disapprove. You must get her to be honest with you. Not for your son-in-law’s sake - for hers. She is making a life-changing decision; she needs your support and advice, even if she doesn’t realise it.

Nik advises:

Yes - it would.

You say if your daughter has cheated, you’ll find it hard to forgive her... but forgiving her is not your job or your place!

The truth is that you don’t actually know what has happened between the two of them. You’ve heard two different sides of the same story and those events aren’t quite matching up - but why are you so quick to believe your son-in-law over your own child? The idea that she has met somebody else could be completely in his head (it happens!) and, even if it isn’t, you still don’t know the circumstances. It’s not your job to forgive, interfere or judge. Relationships are not easy and I honestly believe the only people with a right to an opinion are the two people in the middle of it. Don’t presume to know.

I understand it’s a bitter pill to swallow if you think she has given up too fast, especially with the wedding payments still coming our of your bank account, but it’s inappropriate for you to show anything more than parental concern. You daughter has told you the marriage was a mistake, she’s told you that she really needs to make a clean break from her ex. How do you think she’d react if you turn up at her door with your son-in-law in tow to ‘confront her about her behaviour?’ Yes, in an ideal world, all marriages should be for keeps. But for every blissfully happy 31-year marriage out there, there are couplings that have lasted far longer than they should have, with unhappy people bound together by obligation and not love. Your daughter was raised with your teachings and still made the decision to end her marriage. Maybe she had her reasons.

Mum of three Helen Sykes of Wath advises:

It’s all too easy to lay the blame, but the fact is, you don’t actually don’t know what went on behind closed doors.

By all means, extend your sympathy to your daughter’s ex, but don’t take sides and condemn her in the process. Remember that there are always two sides to every story. It’s very likely that there’s more to the relationship failing than your daughter has told you - and your son-in-law too, for that matter. How do you know his version of events is the whole truth?

I suggest you encourage your daughter to open up to you about how she’s feeling and what happened.

You need to listen to her without judging her and make sure she knows you still love her. If you side with her ex against her you could lose her.

What would you advise? You can offer your own words of wisdom. Send your 200-word answer to this week’s problem. We’ll publish the best next week. Write to jo.davison@thestar.co.uk (include A Problem Shared in the notes field and add your name, age, occupation and area of

Sheffield you live in).