“People who don't want to think about outlawing handguns haven't seen firsthand the kind of damage they do." -- J. A. Jance, "Payment in Kind"

Friday, August 4, 2017

On Marriage

     So as I mentioned, my daughter is getting married in the fall. And even though she's 34 years old and knows her own mind, I feel as if I should be giving her some advice . . . the benefit of my experience and perhaps my vision of the hopes I hold for her.

     Her mother and I are divorced. Her fiance's parents are divorced as well. (Maybe that's why it's taking so long for my daughter to get married?) But I want her to understand that even though our marriage fell apart at the end -- the marriage failed as some people put it -- in my mind the marriage was a solid success. After all, my wife and I were together for 30 years (who keeps a job that long these days?). We owned a home, raised a family; we were contributing members of our community. And we produced two wonderful children.

     We offered them happy childhoods, making sure to live in a good school system, ferrying them to baseball, tennis and swimming practices, loving them the best way we could. And now that they are adults we support their choices (even though, to us, they sometimes seem like questionable ones); and as their parents we do not argue or fight; in fact, we get along reasonably well and might even be considered friends.

     B wants to tell my daughter that the clock is ticking if she wants to have a baby. My daughter was pretty good at math, though, so I think she knows the numbers. However . . . I hope she's marrying this man because she loves hm and gets along with him, and not just because at age 34 she thinks it's "time" she got married. But I don't know if I could raise the subject without sounding like I was cross-examining her, without immediately putting her on the defensive and shutting down any true communication.

     Who has any experience with this? Do you have any advice for me?

     Perhaps the person I want to talk to is not my daughter at all, but her husband-to-be. We have a saying in golf. You hit the ball up toward the hole. You think you have a good shot, certainly on the green and maybe even near the cup, but you're too far away, or behind some trees, and so you can't see where the ball actually came to rest. You walk up to the hole expecting to see the ball sitting on the green -- instead, it's off to the side, maybe in the rough or in a sand trap. This shot is jokingly called a "son-in-law" . . . meaning, it's not what you expected.

     My daughter's fiance is not someone I would have expected. He has his positive points -- a good job; he doesn't party or run around . . . he instead spends his spare time fixing up old cars or old bikes or else tinkering with technology (which means he has old cars in the driveway and old bikes in their living room). But he can be a little . . . I'm not quite sure, but he doesn't always sit quite right. With me anyway. Maybe the problem is just that he's in his 30s. But anyway, what I think doesn't matter. What matters is what my daughter thinks of him, what she sees in him that isn't apparent to the elders in the family.

     I guess I just want to make sure this young man treats my daughter well -- that he thinks of her before he thinks of himself. That he supports her emotionally, builds up her self-confidence, encourages her ambitions, and doesn't (like many men do) tear someone down in order to build himself up.

     I also wonder: I have a son, and our relationship is pretty well defined. What will it be like to have another male in the family? I do not want to have to compete with him for my daughter's affections.

     Marriage. It doesn't seem like a big thing when someone else is doing it. But now I know it's a scary proposition, and seems even scarier when you're going through it with your daughter than when you go through it yourself.


Roberta Warshaw said...

I would say delete this post. The sooner the better. If you want your daughter to stay in touch with you. Never find fault with their spouse. My father ruined my first marriage and nearly ruined my brothers. It isn't up to you to like the person as long as your daughter does. I wouldn't want either of them to read this. I hope you won't be offended at my comment but it really rubbed me the wrong way Tom. I hope you will understand.

Anonymous said...

Our only is not married and nearly 40 years of age..She has and always will be picky picky and more picky, she was a fussy eater and sensitive to the inth degree..Of course with this she is creative, kind and loving, we adore her but as for marriage and children we have pretty well given up that happening..She travels and is happy, her friends little ones adore her and she them, but she likes to leave them to their parents and meemaws and pop pops (grandparents) to really spoil them, being an only child she likes what she likes, that being stated, she is asking all kinds of questions about marriage and having little ones..I just try to give her the plain facts of what happened when we had her and our first place in colorful Colorado.Once she arrived we sold the lovely home and second car I never even drove and came out west to a tiny home and she was raised here amongst 2 girls still her best friends one married with two kids and one still single at 38 who wants to marry but is picky toooooo! I say just accept the fellow and love your daughter and never ever say anything untoward about him to your sweet daughter..My mother in law still thought my husband the oldest of a huge amount of children was her one and only, she called incessantly and asked for this and that right up to the time she passed at nearly 87..We lived far from her for a reason and I tried to keep my big mouth shut, we never went over to see her like she expected and got her many other kids to do..I was too busy raising our only and helping my hubs so we could pay our bills..Just be sweet and loving..Life is too dadblased short to cause any rift with one's only daughter~~~~~~~~~~~~~!!!!!!!!!!!

Tabor said...

Such a difficult post. I am sorry. We love our children so much that our eyes can be clouded , but also our experience can put out valid warnings. Is your son a smart man? Maybe you can talk to him about your feelings...if your ego lets you and see what he says. At 39 you do need to give her the benefit of the doubt and if this marriage is not what was expected you need to be strong for her and stay out of it. Also our culture is changing and we need to understand that.

Anonymous said...

Well, good luck and best wishes to your daughter and her fiance. My marriage has lasted 37 years and is still going strong. We both love classical music and met each other at a music rehearsal. It's nice having common interests.

Olga said...

I had reservations about my daughter's choice of a husband, and they are in fact no longer married, but they did produce two very great grandchildren for me to spoil. My son, in his 40's, is single. Much as I think I could solve all their problems, I don't offer.

Rian said...

Reading your post, my thought is that you're 'overthinking' this. DH and I were married when we were both 22, and will be married 50 years this coming January. We raised 3 children and have 4 grandchildren who we love dearly. But to be honest, parents have little to say about their children's choices once they are grown. So unless there is something you know that could be dangerous or unless they actively ask for your advice, I'd would just love them and respect their choice. Will it always work out? Of course not... but if you're there for them through the good and the bad, it'll be OK.

Tom said...

Roberta, thanks for the warning, and I thought long and hard about posting this; but for one thing my daughter never reads my blog, and for another, if she does read it, I don't think it would hurt our relationship. She certainly knows her mother has had reservations about her choice of a partner -- although I think she's been warming up to him as we've gotten to know him better. Our son has also been in the loop and while his first impression was not that great, I think he too is improving his opinion of the guy. So Rian, you are probably right. I am overthinking this.

tahoegirl.blog said...

That's a tough one. My daughter who is 32( and a librarian, so your wife can relate) has never had a boyfriend or girlfriend and is not interested. She is asexual and I'm perfectly fine with that. So unless she changes, I doubt there's a marriage in her future. But my son had a relationship with a Morman girl and it freaked me out. she was extremely manipulative and really took advantage of my son. She just was looking to get married and prove her worth somehow. Thankfully, my son saw what was happening and ended the relationship. So all I can really add is as parents we always want what is best for our children even as adults. I think what ever reservations you have will work out in the end. Either the relationship will work or it won't. That doesn't change our love and concern for them.

DJan said...

A very interesting post with lots of interesting comments. I was married and divorced three times before I turned 30 and then had many years (two decades) of not being married before meeting my guy at 50. We are happy but it took a lot of tears and difficulty to get where we are. Nobody can figure out what's right for anyone else, but especially our children! Good luck, Tom. I'm wishing for everything to turn out. :-)

Red said...

You bring up some important topics in this family dynamic. We took the leap of faith. Sometimes you win. sometimes you lose. You look at your long marriage as being positive and it was . You had many good things. My daughter was 40 when she got married. My son has three wives and none of them like him. That series of adventures bothers me. Best wishes to your daughter,

stephen Hayes said...

Congratulations on your daughter's upcoming marriage. Our son (36) is also getting married this fall.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

HI Tom! I don't have children so I can't offer any advice from that perspective. But it sounds to me that you've raised an intelligent and aware daughter who can make her own choices. And honestly, who can really tell what is the best course of action for anyone else. I'm sure you wish her the best but as long as she continues to learn and grow, then she will be fine no matter what happens. And as for you, learning to appreciate a person like her new husband is an area of growth. Who knows? You might discover that you have more in common than you think? My husband and I have a saying, "We don't know enough to be pessimists." In the end, I'm sure it will all work out for the best. ~Kathy

Anonymous said...

I had reservations about my daughter's choice of a husband, and they are in fact no longer married, but they did produce two very great grandchildren for me to spoil. My son, in his 40's, is single. Much as I think I could solve all their problems, I don't offer.


retirementreflections said...

Tom, I admire your honesty and your very strong relationship with your daughter. Best wishes to all!

Anonymous said...

I think at some point you have no choice but to let your children do what they want to. We had 5 (all over 30 now). All of them got the same general lectures about life. They all paid attention to some degree. They also got lots of very specific feedback from us when we thought the issue warranted it. However, they are all influenced by many people not referred to as 'Mom and Dad'. Now we are in the mode of offering advice only if asked. Better to keep open communications than shutting the door. Better to have family get-togethers than not. They all know they can come for help (albeit with “pearls of wisdom” after 40 years of marriage). On the topic of posting or not, I wouldn’t have posted. I learned a long time ago that it is best to praise in public but problems are discussed in private.

Morgan said...

I actually agree with not posting this as-is, because it can do no good to criticize the upcoming son-in-law to the world, and much harm. You might ponder on what it would be like next Thanksgiving when the family gets together and you are having a beer on the porch while they have a fight in the car because he doesn't feel comfortable at being with the group of people who discuss him privately and find him grating. Imagine being the one to stand in a group that doesn't particularly like you, tolerating yet one more family tradition and considering your wife's offer to skip it next time. Be careful.

The part that I really wanted to respond to is that you 'do not want to have to compete with him for my daughters affections'. DONT. If their marriage is any marriage at all, if they make any sort of family at all, then he will naturally come first and will 'win' if you create a competitive environment. If you make it difficult for them to visit, they won't. If you make it hard for them to feel comfortable going out to dinner, they won't. If you make them feel as if you are too polished to enjoy a BBQ with cigars and beers, you won't be invited.

They are creating a family, god speed to them, but they won't do that with any level of success without putting each other first. This is your time to be accepting, to be supportive, to be the ones in the background. Their marriage has a much higher chance of success with your support than with your competition.

Finally, you can do this! It's a new phase, a new shift in life that is not truly in your control but I think you are going to find that it's can be a wonderful thing.

Unknown said...

Marriage is about 2 imperfect people joining together in union to experience the joys and disappointments that life will present to them as a couple. We are there to witness this union and wish them well on their new journey together. Many blessings to them as they go forward as a "we" and not so much as an "I".

Anonymous said...

What I do know is if I posted something like this about my adult children they would be extremely hurt and insulted. We have to accept our boundaries. You made choices in your life that they may not have totally agreed with. They have the right to do the same. This isn't about loving your daughter this is about control. We weren't in complete agreement with decisions our adult children made. Thankfully we held our opinions to ourselves. We were completely wrong. They knew what they were doing. They saw the character of the person and the values that person had. I know many highly educated brought up with extreme wealth males that are horrible husbands. Don't put your daughter in a position to pick. She will pick him. If they get married he will be the father of your grandchildren. Don't make them pick either. My grandfather did that. The older get I see how selfish it was. She's an adult.

Anonymous said...

I think marriage is the greatest farce humankind has invented.
I despise marriage and I despise family more than marriage.
ALL families are dysfuctional and loaded with so much mental crap it should be listed as criminal.
People should be together because they want to be together. I think the greatest example of that is Goldie Hawn.
My partner and I have been together, each by our sides, through thick and thin for the last thirty seven years. We don't need a marriage license to make our relationship any purer or better.(but we have one, just in case)
As soon as our two kids got married, the first thing they did, together with their new spouses, was drop my partner and I out of their lives. They won't even refer to us as dad and mom. It's a sad commentary on how mentally challenged people really are. We couldn't even utter a word or opinion to them, so be pre-warned.
If we do get to come back and relive our lives again, I would never get married and I would never, never, never ever have children ever again.

Linda Myers said...

This is an unusual post for you, Tom. I'm thinking you're uncertain about your daughter's upcoming marriage. But you and your ex-wife raised your kids to be responsible adults and I suspect they are. My first husband and I are both well educated, with similar interests. Our marriage ended after 15 years. My second husband and I have entirely different backgrounds and many different interests. He is not at all what I was looking for - a yuppie in a three-piece suit. He was a lineman for the county. But we have been together for 25 years now and married for 20. Our anniversary was two weeks ago and we both forgot about it until three days later.

When I'm thinking about saying something to one of our eight kids, I think to myself, "How would I feel if my parents had said that to me at the same age?" Almost always the answer is, "Not good." That usually keeps me from speaking my entire mind. Or I'll say, "I have an opinion on that. Let me know if you're interested." And you know what? They hardly ever are.

That's enough out of me!

Tom said...

Well, I will admit one thing. I still think of my daughter as a 16 year old (don't you?!?). I have to consciously remind myself that she's an adult now -- and probably better at it than I ever was. But Anon., I disagree. Just b/c marriage doesn't work out all the time doesn't mean it isn't a beneficial institution; and as far as I'm concerned, my kids are the best thing I ever had a hand in producing. Now ... should I start bugging them about grandchildren? (I'm kidding. I'm kidding!)

Anonymous said...

Tom, I am going to go against the majority here and support your right to post this concern on your forum. My sister married someone who enjoys tinkering with cars and was sharp toned with her and the cars came first and they are divorced and the sharp tone only got worse and it cut her to the core and still does. His negativity was permanent factor in their daily lives and it extended to all who visited or tried to help. What it boils down to is his lack of self confidence that he tries to defend and his sharp tones and put downs are the only way he knows how to handle situations. My sister has suffered deep wounds that will never heal and the embarrassment of hearing him spout off in public over nothing or make a molehill out of nothing to shut her down has been observed by all who know them. I support your concern and if you happen to know another couple that your daughter also knows that has that kind of relationship, I would think you could point out what you are witnessing and what a future could be if children are eventually pulled into it. It will not be a pleasant childhood for them, believe me. My daughter and SIL were both engaged to other people and both broke it off before they met each other and they will become parents by the end of this month. My daughter is 31 and I think their marriage is stronger because they both knew enough to break off the first engagements and not settle until they found what they were truly looking for. If I had not seen and witnessed both of these family situations, I would not know how beneficial your sharing your concerns might be. If they have children, those grandchildren will have to deal with that sharp tongue also and it will scar them, believe me, I know. - plynjyn

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