My daughter, 27, is a University graduate who lives on her own and has a good job. Her relationship with me, her father (we’re divorced), and her brothers is very strained. She has a dominant, inflexible personality, and creates drama.
She’s demanding and clingy in romantic relationships, which drives away boyfriends. She currently has a male friend who’s her “whipping boy.”
She speaks to him condescendingly, orders him about, and he quietly complies. It’s abusive behavior, and our whole family’s embarrassed.
My biggest concern is her health. She’s tall (6' 1"), large-framed, and has gained some 80 pounds since high school (currently about 280 lbs)! She constantly complains of knee and back pain, but none of us want to incur her fury if we address her over-eating and sedentary lifestyle. How do I approach this sensitive issue?
Worried but Silent
You don’t. You’re too afraid of her reaction, and don’t respect her behaviour. She must already sense negative judgment (apparently deserved) so will shut down.
A doctor is best equipped to detail the consequences of her overeating and lack of fitness. When she complains of pain, simply suggest she see a physician.
Meanwhile, your focus on her weight is how you’re distracting yourself from discomfort with her personality.
When she’s negative with you, or creating drama, disengage. She’s an adult, you don’t have to cover for, or tolerate, her obnoxious behaviour. What you should express – and not care if she won’t like it – is that she’s obviously miserable, and needs personal counselling.
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband whose wife left him after 18 years, having never said what she wanted him to change (July 25):
Reader – “I've heard this before – a shocked and surprised husband who never had a clue about what was going on.
“I bet if you asked his wife, you'd hear a different story, such as, she tried many times to talk to him about improving communication, listening to her and her needs, going out more (or staying home more), etc.
“So many of my women friends have told me they've tried over and over again to get their husbands to counseling, with the husbands refusing.
“Or, the women were trying to work on the marriage and the husbands were refusing to acknowledge there's a problem.
“I wouldn't be surprised to also learn that their sex life was in a rut with the man wanting more but caring little about making the experience intimate and loving for his wife.
“Finally, the wife gets to a point of "no return" and decides to leave. This is the point where the husband finally notices something’s wrong and scrambles to try and figure out how to fix it.
“Sadly, it's too late. The wife feels she’s given and given to try and make the relationship work, and by the time she has the courage to speak up, her mind is made up.
“This is exactly what happened in my own marriage and, as heartbreaking and difficult as it was to leave the marriage, I'm much happier now.
“Men need to remember that just because an argument is over doesn't mean damage wasn't done and remembered by the wife.
“Too many of these arguments, fights, and their aftermath, slowly add up to an intolerable situation for a woman.
“Unforgiving” should take a hard look at his marriage, and what he may have contributed to his wife's unhappiness. A little soul-searching may help uncover some hard truths to learn about himself for future relationships and perhaps be a little more "forgiving."
Commentary – More “Love At First Sight:”
Reader #1 – “My husband and I met while attending university. He was one of my cousin’s roommates. The attraction was instant, and we were engaged a month later.
“My parents hit the roof as I was only 21, but his parents were thrilled. We married three months later and recently celebrated our 39th anniversary! We both finished school, co-own a business, have two adult sons, and have been very happy.”
Reader #2 – “I was a student from the University of Waterloo and had thrown a term-end pub party.
“I tried my best to get a beautiful woman there to dance and chat, to little avail. I didn't know that she’d met my identical twin brother several months prior and had no interest in him.
“The pub was dark and she didn't make the connection, until she saw us, outside, standing next to each other. We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary this year!”
Tip of the day:
When an adult child’s behaviour’s intolerable, disengage.