My daughter’s been separated from her husband for two years, with shared custody of their young son and daughter.
They were madly in love when they married in their early 30s. But they were equally strong-minded and independent, leading to the split.
My daughter works hard at her dentistry practice. Her husband works freelance in the music world - determined and talented, but with much less income.
They’re both great parents. My son-in-law never misses his chance to pick up the children, have them mid-week overnight and alternate weekends.
The children, now ages eight and six, miss being with both of them together.
After a year of inwardly grieving the break-up, my daughter and a dentist she’d dated in university, reconnected.
My son-in-law became jealous and introspective. He called me to see if I thought there’s a chance for he and my daughter to reunite.
He says he knows he has flaws but stubbornly defended himself whenever they had problems.
He still loves her and is desperate to find a way for them to live together again.
What steps should he take to get that possibility started?
He needs to talk to your daughter, not to you, and say that he’s willing to try whatever can help them be a couple again, because he loves her.
And you need to bow out of the middle, even though you want the best for your grandchildren.
Marital therapy is essential, but they need to find a counselling approach that both can accept. Then, they must give it a sincere, solutions-seeking try over a period of time.
Depending on the therapist, it’ll likely involve considerable reading and exercises that help convey the professional’s view of what’s needed between the couple.
Both must be willing to do the work.
Meanwhile, they should try not to give the children the impression that things are changing dramatically again.
Even though the youngsters likely want their parents together, their own hopes shouldn’t be raised, unless and until this is a fact.
Disappointment is too disruptive at their ages, and can make children act out in anger or feel it’s their fault.
My wife spent 15 years as marketing manager for a large company, making us an affluent double-income family.
Suddenly, she and a few other employees have been laid off.
Despite her receiving a compensation package (which we and the others intend to challenge as insufficient) we realized we have to make financial and lifestyle changes.
Our daughter’s been enrolled in competitive dance - an expensive program at which she excels. Our son, with special needs, attends a costly private school.
Commitments for the coming “school” year have payments to be made.
We don’t want to change what we’ve already promised our kids, nor lose our deposits.
I’m also worried about my wife who’s freaking out at her sudden loss of work and, she feels, losing her identity.
These changes and far worse have happened to countless people due to the effects on businesses, housing, shopkeepers, restaurants, domestic workers, etc. due to the pandemic.
Study your finances and make decisions. Cancel unnecessary expenses. Gently teach the children about priorities: e.g. if your son’s school is the best choice for him, and if dance is your daughter’s passion, cancel other expensive activities e.g. tennis lessons, skiing, etc.
Calm your wife with reassurances. There’ll be jobs for her considerable skills - maybe part-time, community-related, less income, but relevant to people’s needs.
FEEDBACK Regarding the letter-writer asking how to help a friend who’s in an abusive relationship (July 25):
Reader – “After reading this column, where the friend seemed to have been attracted to this man for his money, it reminded me of something that “Dr. Phil” (McGraw) said once.
“Any woman that marries for money, earns every penny of it.”
Ellie - One of the reasons for Dr. Phil’s popularity as a television relationship therapist, is that he could be so glib about people’s most serious of problems.
I noted that, when I was invited as an advice-columnist to meet him when he appeared in Toronto.
He’d turned therapy into an entertainment art at which he excelled, and it attracted a huge audience, 7,000 in attendance that day.
But abusive relationships are never amusing.
Whatever the woman’s hopes for a moneyed lifestyle, she was suffering repeated physical and emotional abuse. Dr. Phil would be wrong to consider that “earned.”
Tip of the day:
Reuniting a marriage after having separated, requires learning new ways of relating to each other, and love.