It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now.
Today we hear from “Sick to my Stomach” whose three 20-something daughters won’t talk to her anymore since she got engaged in May to a man they don’t like, following their mother’s 10-year relationship with a different man who was an alcoholic and then their mom’s drinking binge, binge dating, and a DUI. The mom’s update below:
So then I met Hal when the Corona hit, and he speaks his mind. My girls were eavesdropping on conversations I was having with him and he said some stuff and got mad, but he did apologize. Then when we got engaged and they never congratulated me – they just sent me nasty texts about it. So, of course, Hal had to text them a couple days later, and he told them that they treat me deplorably and that I had nothing to do with the engagement. He said “Don’t be mad at your mother. Family forgives family.” But they never responded to that either, so that’s really all he did in 18 months. He was always nice to them and asked them questions about their lives and work, and they just brushed him off. I am just lost, like I really don’t know what to do. Life is too short to be having these issues. Hal feels like he’s suffering for the problems that my girls had in the past with my other relationship. I emailed all three of them last week and poured my heart out to them, telling them I want a relationship with them and that I want to be in their lives, but no one has responded.
I think you need to re-read my advice to you. Nothing you’ve said in your update changes my mind that you’ve shown, and probably continue to show, really questionable judgment, at least when it comes to relationships. You dated a raging alcoholic for ten years while your daughters were younger and needed your attention, and you broke up with him only after he “put a hand on your daughter” (whatever that means) but then continued to date him in secret. Then you yourself started binge-drinking, dated lots of random guys, and got a DUI. Then, when “Corona hit,” you found a new boyfriend who “speaks his mind” in such a way that he had to apologize for things he said to you. And then just a couple days after you got engaged, he texted your daughters to chew them out for not congratulating you on your engagement. You say that “of course” he had to do that.
Look, normal, healthy people don’t do this. There’s no “of course” here. It’s pretty fucked up to reach out to the daughters of the woman you have JUST asked to marry you to criticize them. What he should have done was ask you how he might ingratiate himself to make them comfortable with him, especially considering the trauma they’ve been through in the past few years when it comes to your relationships. He literally did the opposite of that. And that you think his behavior was an “of course” situation further confirms that your judgment is, frankly, impaired.
Like, who is this guy to tell your daughters, whom he barely knows, what they should forgive? Who is this guy to tell them they are acting deplorably after everything they’ve been through with you (an alcoholic stepdad-like figure who was in their lives for ten years while they were still kids, at least one physical altercation with him, your lying about breaking up with him, your binge-drinking, your DUI, etc.—-it’s a lot!). It’s understandable that they might not embrace the new guy with wide-open arms, especially considering that what they do know about him includes his “saying some stuff” to you that warranted an apology. What was it that he said that he needed to apologize for? Something tells me it wasn’t nothing – that it was likely something that would give three young woman who have watched their mother repeatedly make bad relationship decisions some concern that her pattern was continuing with him.
Honestly, I will simply repeat to you what I said before: If you go forward in marrying Hal, you have to accept that you may potentially sever a relationship with your daughters for good. There’s a reason they are not accepting him. He thinks that reason has everything to do with your past relationship and nothing to do with him. I believe it’s probably a combination of all of the above with a good dose of your daughters simply being fed up with YOU and watching you continue to make bad decisions. They are entitled to the boundaries they are setting. Don’t keep pushing those boundaries or you risk pushing them away forever. Respect that you have given them reason for their boundaries, and if you need help understanding why (it sounds like you do), please seek the guidance of a good therapist. It’s not just your relationship with your daughters that’s on the line here, and if you can’t see that, then even more reason to get some help.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.