Ask Amy: Couple’s private choice becomes family fodder

May 5, 2013

DEAR AMY: My husband and I recently went through the heartbreaking experience of having to terminate our first pregnancy for medical reasons.

My mother, who is anti-abortion, was dismissive of the poor prognosis and told me not to see the prenatal specialist. She also was insistent on being present when we weighed our options. We declined and said we wanted to have time alone to make this difficult decision.

Unfortunately, my parents told some extended family about the pregnancy (despite our wishes), and I received a congratulatory card during this crazy time period. My husband sent a polite e-mail to my parents stating that we wanted privacy, and my mom responded, “It’s not great over here, either.”

I’m having a hard time getting over this crisis. I am disappointed with my mother’s reaction, and I haven’t spoken with her since. I’m scared of what she’ll say.

My father says that I shouldn’t discuss the issue with her further because she disagrees with our decision. How do I move on when it’s difficult to forgive her? I’m sad and disappointed that she wasn’t supportive, and I’m angered by her words. I think I’m still grieving and am in the “angry” phase, but I want to move on. Thanks for any insight you can provide. -- Wanting to Move On

DEAR WANTING: I can only imagine what this must be like for you. Heartbreaking, to be sure.

My insight involves you disregarding your father’s well-meaning advice not to discuss this with your mother. Surely he wants to keep the peace, but this issue is too important to sweep under the rug. I urge you to move through this extreme challenge — on your way to moving on from it.

There is no question that your mother’s choices were damaging to you and to your relationship, but to move forward you should understand her position as a matter of conscience. Realize that you will not change her conscience; it’s part of who she is.

Keep your statements simple. You should tell her that her actions caused you additional heartbreak during an incredibly painful time. Say that you feel disappointed and abandoned. And tell her you love her and are trying hard to move forward.

After you host this challenging talk with her, then never discuss it (or any other pregnancy related issue) with her again, unless discussing it is your choice. Contact your medical specialist for a referral to a support group and for ongoing counseling.

DEAR AMY: The letter from “Hurt Wife” regarding the “silent treatment” between her and her husband really hit home for me. My long-deceased parents used to engage in the same dysfunctional interplay. It mostly involved my mother getting upset with my father, then shutting down. He was a kind man. But feelings would be hurt, followed by prolonged silence. This had a profound impact on the whole family.

There was never any yelling in our house, but sometimes it seemed that yelling would have been better because the situation would have resolved itself sooner.

My parents were lovely people in most aspects. But these periods of noncommunication made our home seem both icy and like a tinderbox all at the same time.

Behavior is learned. I needed to discover a healthier path in my marriage. I found myself repeating this behavior. But fortunately I had a husband who just wouldn’t buy into it.

Hurt Wife and her husband need to put aside their snide comments and immature responses and focus on that poor child. She is on the receiving end of their selfish behavior. My heart aches for her. -- Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: Your story illustrates what it is like to be a truly voiceless witness to the “silent treatment.” Thank you.

DEAR AMY: I identified with the letter from “Trapped and Confused,” who stayed in a loveless relationship because of a great apartment.

I actually did this, but it was in New York City. So you understand why I stayed. -- Survivor

DEAR SURVIVOR: I know how New Yorkers feel about their real estate.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

SECTION: {section=lifestyle, subsection=style}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=lifestyle, subsection=style}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments