Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ADVICE PLEASE: Dear Sad Suegra (Mother-In-Law)

For over a year, I have been writing an advice column for Latin Trends Magazine.  This is an example of a question I've recently received. Please leave comments & let this woman know what YOU thnk she should do! 

My oldest daughter, who has been married for ten years and has two small children, has confided in me that she’s been having an affair for the past six months. She says she felt she could tell me because she knows I had a similar episode when she was in her teens, though I never left her father. Now, every time I see her, she’s gushing on about her lover (whom she wants me to meet), which makes me feel embarrassed whenever I see her husband (who is a lovely man and wonderful father). I don’t think her situation is like my own: my late husband was a distant, cold man who disliked sex. I fear she’s going to ruin her life, but don’t want to be unsupportive. All the same, I don’t want my son-in-law to be hurt by her behaviors. How should I proceed?

Sad Suegra in Staten Island

Dear Sad Suegra,

Ah, a mother’s work is never done, is it? Although your daughter is a grown, married woman with children, you daughter’s behavior is a bit childish. So treat her like a child – she has to be lovingly disciplined. Tell your daughter the truth. – tell her with love: Remember when she was a little girl & wanted to go out and play with her friends. You probably told her, “You cannot go out and play until you clean up this mess in your room.” Same applies here: “You cannot go out of your marriage and play with some other guy until you clean up this mess in your marriage.”

Deep down, you know that if your daughter continues this affair, everyone gets hurt. Now, there is a divine opportunity for you to teach your child an important life lesson: you cannot open the door to a new relationship without closing the door to the other one. No joy can come from this. Life never rewards you when you do things based on betrayal. By the way, this other man is having a good old time without any ties. Is it possible he’s only with her because he knows she’s unavailable for commitment? Easy for him, huh?

Yes, you had a similar situation occur for you in the past so you feel you cannot judge. But you can see for sure that her current situation is NOT your past one. You can still love and support your child AND tell her you see a disaster brewing. Affairs happen for different reasons, but most of the time affairs are born because there is unhappiness, a void in the current relationship & the affair is nothing but a bandaid that covers the hurt...but the band-aid falls off, and the hurt will still be there.

Tell her you love her, but she needs to address the problems in her marriage FIRST. She is only thinking of herself -not the consequences. She can lose her husband, she can lose her home – even scarier: she can lose her children and even her children’s respect. And now in her selfishness, she has even made you an accomplice. Not good. Tell her that it’s made you uncomfortable and has put you in a position you won’t play a part in anymore. She either stays and works it out with her husband, tries counseling, etc. or she divorces him. And when the dust has settled, if she still wants to pursue a relationship with the other man, she can. As her children’s grandmother, you are the only voice for the children. What will they do? And let her know, that NO MATTER WHAT you STILL love her and if she falls, you will catch her.

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