The Washington Post

Hax Philes: Bringing a relationship back from the brink

From the May 16 chat:

What do you do when your child is determined to marry someone you believe is utterly wrong for her? There are multiple red flags: he is 31, chronically unemployed, addicted to video games; she doesn’t seem like herself with him and has moved three times so he can pursue jobs that he gets fired from, while she dismisses her own dreams; he is financially dependent on her and his relatives.

We have run the gamut from trying to talk her out of it, to suggesting she wait (they were engaged very quickly), to trying to get to know him (he barely speaks in person, doesn’t answer texts we’ve sent), to making neutral statements because she’s legally an adult and it’s obviously her decision. Yet every approach we’ve taken has made her defensive to the point where she’s stopped speaking to us.

The wedding is in June and we were invited before the communication lines were cut (we’ve sent e-mails, but no replies). Do we go? Is it hypocritical to go when we don’t support this match? Her anger toward us has gotten to the point where our relationship is damaged no matter what, so in some ways, attending almost feels masochistic (attack or ignore us and we’ll keep showing up for more). Yet if this marriage collapses, we would want to be there for her, and if we don’t attend, she might hold it against us forever.

To anyone who has been on the other end of this, and who withdrew from communicating with a parent who interfered to one degree too far: Assuming the parent was ready just to shut up and be there for you, what would it take for you to be willing to accept a peace overture?

» See all Hax Philes discussions    

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers.



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