Our daughter’s married to a controlling man who’s caused her to change her attitude towards us.
Once married and expecting their first child, they moved away for “better opportunities.”
But I now believe it was also his plan to get distance from our influence.
My husband and I have had a happy marriage with equal decision-making about anything important.
When we visit our daughter she seems tense and is often on her own because it’s said to be his “busy period.” I think that’s his excuse for avoiding us.
She doesn’t seem to have many close friends, just a nanny she relies on a lot. She sleeps half the day.
Everything in their life is explained as being how he wants it to be. I don’t think she’s physically afraid of him, but she’s certainly not crossing him.
She’s even forbidden my bringing any gifts for my grandsons (ages seven and four) other than what he thinks is appropriate.
How can my husband and I best handle our relationship with our daughter?
Kept at Distance
It’s a delicate situation. Even though being manipulated can be seen as emotional abuse, she could counter that she agrees with his ways and prevent your visits, if you appear critical.
So staying in touch, listening rather than asking too many questions, staying alert to whatever you see and hear, are crucial for maintaining access to her and your grandchildren.
The youngsters will sense your warmth and caring, no matter what gifts you bring.
Your daughter saw your egalitarian marriage and may one day be fed up with what she’s accepting from her husband for now.
Meanwhile, her sleeping through half the day may be signaling a growing unhappiness, which could lead to depression.
So maintaining the relationship now is essential.
If you sense her withdrawing in other ways – non-communicative, bouts of crying, etc. – be prepared to get to her side, insist that she see a doctor, and consider treatment.
Her husband may need some of his own medicine by your being as strong-minded as he is, when necessary to protect your daughter and the children.
My husband and I are a civil-partnered gay couple in Ireland. My husband's brother moved far away a short time after we started dating.
As far as I can tell, they've never had a good relationship.
But now that same-sex marriage has been legalized, we want to renew our vows and want my brother-in-law to stand with us.
However, he and my husband had a falling out last Christmas and they’re not speaking.
I really want my husband to be happy and have a relationship with his younger brother.
Talk to your husband and ask if the reason for the falling out is as significant to him as the vow-renewal ceremony.
It’s unlikely that he’ll say yes, but there may be deeper sibling issues at play. If he resists approaching his brother, draw him out.
Perhaps there were earlier rivalries, or previous non-acceptance of his sexual identity, or something else which you don’t know of their past.
Don’t approach his brother yourself. Your loyalty is to your husband, and if he’s adamant on not contacting him, that’s his choice.
Similarly, if he reaches out and his brother rejects him, don’t interfere.
The most important relationship regarding this event is between you two as a married couple.
Enjoy the meaning of the ceremony, especially in light of its new historic legal significance.
Commentary I’ve had friends who were dancers who’d trained rigorously from childhood and joined professional dance companies.
Others were athletes who progressed to major organizations or competitions such as the PGA Tour, and Olympics.
Today, not one of them does what they once were wholly invested in.
Their transitions had them challenged over an extended period of time.
In their darker days, they experienced a deep sense of impermanence, emptiness, sadness, and suffering as a result of sudden life changes.
But what helped was the recovery of a vibrant sense of themselves, a competitive spirit in dealing with life challenges and a grieving process (moving through denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance).
All this led toward active, strategic reconstruction toward what they now do.
There was also help from community support groups such as www.limeconnect.com and information resources e.g. www.thesportinmind.com.
Ellie – Thanks for helpful insights for those who may be in similar transitions.
Tip of the day:
Try to maintain contact with an adult child who’s living with a controlling partner, and may later need support.