My parents are disappointed in me.

auntjenAugust 11, 2003

I desperately need some advice on how to handle this situation. I'm a 41 year old woman who has let her parents down terribly by leaving my 15-year marriage and entering into another relationship. This all came to a head late last year, and I thought we were all moving on and trying not to dwell on past hurts ... but my mom brought up this thing between us in a phone conversation today. To say that this is crushing me is an understatement.

My parents thought that my 15 year marriage was, while not perfect, certainly "fixable". They were very wrong. To my ex, it was all about winning. Life is a competition, according to him. He was emotionally crippled and did not give me the support I needed, nor was I ever encouraged by him to truly be myself. To make a long story short ... I knew quite some time ago that I would end up getting out of this bad marriage. The way it finally came about, however, is not the way I'd do it again if I could do it over. I met someone else ... and I left to be with the other man.

I am still with the other man. He is wonderful to me. He is truly supportive, my encourager, and I know that I can go to him with ANYTHING and that he and I can come to a solution to any problem that he, I, or we may be experiencing. He is definitely my soulmate.

Problem is, because of how our relationship began, AND the fact that we are "living in sin", my parents despise him. They don't even KNOW him. My dad has never even had one conversation with him, and my mom has only spoken a few words to him. They simply do not know him. But they have made up their minds that he is not a "good person".

I have always been so very close to my family. I love my parents with all my heart ... but I also love this man in my life with all my heart. I feel as though my parents are asking me to CHOOSE between having a satisfying relationship with them, or the man that it is in my life right now.

I feel like a 41 year old CHILD. I feel completely incapable of standing up to my parents. I have long looked to them for guidance, advice, etc., but now when I feel as though I DON'T need or want their input (because they are, quite frankly, WRONG), they keep giving it, unsolicited. And it's breaking my heart that they cannot accept the fact that I LOVE this man, and I have the right to CHOOSE who I am going to LOVE.

My parents are also from a very strong faith-based background, and I know that that's largely what is happening in this situation. They are drawing upon their spiritual beliefs ... and they are completely taken aback that I could find myself at a place in my life where I'm not totally sharing or following the beliefs that THEY always thought they instilled in me. Thing is though, I'm happy with my life as it is now. I don't feel as though I'm spiritually VOID in any way. I'm just not doing what mom and dad EXPECT me to do.

::sigh:: This is so very difficult. I guess I just needed to vent, but I'd also welcome any...

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You are going to need to give your parents some time to adjust to the new realities of your life. It is unreasonable of you to expect them to be thrilled about the choices you have made, espcially when the wounds are still raw. Hopefully over time they will come to accept this new man in your life, but that isn't going to happen overnight.

As for your new guy not being a "good person." Well? You know that you guys weren't behaving like good people, don't you? Have you owned up to that without trying to blame your ex? Even if he was a jerk, that does not excuse an affair. "The past is the past" may sound like an attractive truism to you, but it doesn't reflect reality very well. There are hurt feelings and disappointment that are going to take some time and effort to work through. That doesn't mean I think you should suffer indefinitely or spend the rest of your life apologizing, but it does mean you have to quit viewing yourself as some sort of a victim of circumstances. There are consequences to actions, and one of the consequences to leaving your husband for another man is that your family members are going to be mad, at least for a while.

In my family, my MIL had an affair and left my FIL. She moved in with and later married the man. Neither of them have ever admitted that they have done anything wrong. All of us are civil to each other and treat them respectfully, but I don't think anyone will ever truly accept him as a "good person" as long as they maintain their bad behavior was perfectly justified. I think things would have went a lot more smoothly if they had just admitted that having an affair was immoral and wrong, but that they still needed out love and support going forward. It is really hard to fogive someone who doesn't seek forgiveness.

Best of luck in the new life you are trying to make for yourself.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2003 at 3:53PM
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Jen, it's certainly understandable how you would want to please your parents and gain their approval in the things you do but, at this point in your life, it's not about's about you. You're 41 years old - a mature adult, brought up in a loving home with both parents that gave you the guidance and nurturing that you needed. You have the "facts" it's up to you to make informed decisions about everything you do. Sure, you could have gone about this whole thing differently but, hey, things happen. Like you said, the past is the past.

You said your parents are basing their dispositions on spiritual beliefs...whew! That's a tough one sister. I'm gonna' go out on a limb and say you probably knew this wasn't going to be a cake walk before it even got to this point. At any rate, keeping your man and harmony with your folks is going to be no easy task.
This is easier said than done, but you're gonna' have to be a big girl and have a heart to heart with your parents. You may not get the results you want but at least you will have made an effort and can move on with closure.

Bottom line is you need to decide what's going to make you happy and pursue that. Your parents did their jobs in bringing you up, you've gotta' live your life.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2003 at 4:39PM
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Would they be happier about the situation if you and this gentlemen got married?? Obviously this will take more time. They need to be around him to learn and understand what kind of man he is. Get married - give it time and effort IF what your parents think matters to you.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2003 at 11:53AM
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I have begged forgiveness from each of my family members for how my actions have affected them emotionally and mentally. I've done everything short of turning my back on the new life that I've chosen, and am continuing to make, for myself. I know that it will take time. I know that the wounds are still fresh. I also know that I cannot control how my family chooses to feel, and thus react, to the situation. All I can do is lay my heart out, open wide to them, and then they'll have to come to an acceptance of my choices on their own terms. IF they ever decide to.

I hope with all of my heart that they will open THEIR hearts enough to let the new man in my life in. I'm going to keep praying and hoping and forging ahead as best I know how -- trying to walk that fine line between living my own life and remaining closely entertwined in the lives of my family members.

Thanks for the encouraging words. I was really down when I posted yesterday.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2003 at 12:59PM
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Auntjen, turns out many folks who leave their spouses do so when another person enters the picture. I think this phenomenon is logical, if not clean and simple.

People who are in unhappy marriages stick it out and stick it out - out of guilt, immobility, etc. Then when another person enters the picture, that person becomes the impetus for the unhappy party to finally leave. Therefore it seems like you left your husband for another man, even though upon analysis, you and your husband had emotionally left each other even when you were still physically together.

Make sense?

Your parents are judging you, but they are also feeling a sense of failure on their own part, along with many other emotions. Divorce causes turmoil all around.

Time will blur the edges of the pain and hopefully your parents' attitude.

At this time, don't try to push them into accepting what you did and your new mate. That just puts salt on their wounds and disrespects their feelings, however harsh you feel those feelings are.

Give them their space and stay calm. Don't berate them or beg them or argue with them. Just live your new happier life and stay in touch with your parents. I wouldn't discuss or argue your situation with them at all, and if they bring it up I would politely and calmly say that it's a topic that you don't want to discuss, then change the subject.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2003 at 2:57PM
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Great posting Gina w. I had also separated emotionally from my husband mostly due to his drinking and drug problem. So when I started dating very shortly after my divorce and then married within 6 months, my family was more than shocked. They have now accepted my husband and we celebrated our 3rd anniversary in February. There are still moments when the ackwardness comes back, but it goes away. Thanks for putting my thoughts into words.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2003 at 3:09PM
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Was your boyfriend also married? Are there children involved? If so, you need to apologize to this man's wife and to your husband for destroying two families.

I can understand why your parents feel the way they do. You have disappointed them. We all want our chidlren to behave honorably and when they don't, we wonder if it is our fault.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2003 at 8:17PM
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I don't think you owe anybody any apologies. Your parents will either put this aside or they won't. You cannot change their behavior or their feelings, any more than they can change yours. You have to accept what has happened and stop feeling guilty. Life happens. I'll bet that when you were with your husband, you never talked to your parents about how things REALLY were, so they thought everything was just fine. They are worried about what others think, and probably wonder what they did to raise a daughter who would do this. Totally selfish, IMO. The biggest hurt (I know from experience) is that your parents are not showing you unconditional love and they are being judgemental.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2003 at 12:37PM
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Now wait a minute - that man made the decision to have a relationship with AuntJen just as much as Jen did, so why would Jen be the only one "destroying" two families?

I don't necessarily agree with living together before marriage, but Jen isn't 20 - she's hopefully more mature, stable, and responsible for her life's experiences. We don't know - perhaps Jen's parents have judged everything she's done in life and sometimes standing up to them and letting true feelings be known is hard. Are THEY happy in their marriage? Are your other family members? Sometimes when others are unhappy in their own situation, they get mad at someone else who had the guts to leave when they didn't. I wouldn't feel as though I owe anything to other family members because they weren't the ones who lived with your husband and were married to him, were they? We all do things that others might not approve of - and family needs to support you through difficult times, even if it's not something they necessarily agree with. You should talk to your parents and see how it goes - but once they get used to the idea, they need to get over it. After all, it is your life.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2003 at 10:22AM
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Look, you're an adult, and you're the only one who can live your life. Your parents can't do it for you.

You don't need to "stand up to your parents" in the sense of ultimate confrontation and argument.

What you do need is to practice saying firmly, "Mom and Dad, I'm not going to discuss this with you further. This is the way things are."

If they insist on bringing up the matter, get off the phone or remove yourself from the situation. Refuse to make it a topic of discussion. If they want to discuss it to death, let them discuss it with each other.

If you're really having difficulty setting boundaries with them, pick up one of the Miss Manners books. She has a lot of good advice for setting boundaries with people in a courteous, respectful way, and I think you may feel more confident dealing with your parents if you have a "script" to follow.

If you don't mind me playing counselor for a second, may I suggest that you may been unusually close with your parents because of the dissatisfaction with your spouse?

On some purely unconscious level, your parents may have welcomed this unusual closeness and in a sense "welcomed" your marital dissatisfaction.

I'm not trying to make your parents out to be ogres here, but we all have murky emotional stuff that lurks in our minds and governs our actions if we're not careful. They're probably somewhat threatened by the fact that you're forming an emotional bond with someone else, and that that bond isn't threatened by their disapproval.(!)

And, I think Phyllis is completely correct in pointing out that people project a great deal onto this situations, because it casts doubts on their own choices.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2003 at 12:01PM
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ooh, ooh, Trilobite is SO right:
"If you're really having difficulty setting boundaries with them, pick up one of the Miss Manners books. She has a lot of good advice for setting boundaries with people in a courteous, respectful way, and I think you may feel more confident dealing with your parents if you have a "script" to follow. "

    Bookmark   September 18, 2003 at 11:08AM
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The other side of the coin ... as the Mother of both a daughter and a son, I would be disappointed in them as well if they started a relationship with someone else while still married to another. I would be equally hurt if they thought so little of themselves to accept cohabitation instead of marriage. Wouldn't matter if they were 15 or 50. There are a lot of moral issues here and I just can't accept dumping morality for convenience - but that's me. I'm not saying to stay in an unhappy marriage, but had you done it differently the outcome would have been so much easier for your parents to accept. No matter how we try to ignore social and religious mores they are all around us and we are judged by our actions. If this is what you believe in then other people's opinions shouldn't matter as long as no one else is being hurt (children).

    Bookmark   November 24, 2003 at 12:58PM
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You are asking our advice and like Blue Heron, it makes a difference whether you have children, and whether your new love was married and has children. It makes an enormous difference in what light we see this in. If neither you nor your lover had children, then this makes a difference. You move on and enjoy the love that you have found. If on the other hand, you or/and your lover was married and have children, then you did something that destroys at least one family and perhaps two... forever.

And that is something that is morally wrong and brings pain to many people, and a price for your actions will be paid by your children and their children one day. in that light, you may have had problems in your marriage, but you had a responsibility to work on those problems for the sake of your children and having integrity to be honest and do what is right. If after making every effort to make your marriage work, and you were not able to, then you should have had the integrity to end the marriage before beginning a new relationship. We tend to excuse our own behavior and expect others to do the same. But look at it in a different light. What if instead your husband had been cheating on you, and left you for another woman? He could recite that you did this or that, to excuse the deceit that it takes to carry on an affair, and then dumping you for the sexy secretary or girl at the gym, etc. Would the fact that you did this or that make his affair and dumping you right? Of course not. If he was unhappy, ( if there are children) he has a moral obligation to not be involved in an affair. He should try and work out the problems in his marriage. If it is unworkable, then he needs to have the personal integrity and courage to end the marriage honestly, BEFORE becomming involved in another relationship.

And if children are involved, I agree with BlueHeron, that you owe an apology to several people. It is the right thing to do. I looked up moral in a dictionary and it reads: following rules of right or fair behavior.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 3:48PM
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While Bnice made some interesting points, I'm not sure I completely agree. Just because there are or aren't children involved (I think I remember Aunt Jen saying that she doesn't have children), doesn't mean that the relationship is any less important. Not having children makes it "easier" to recover and move on, but doesn't absolve the fact that you still hurt someone else. Two people, in fact. Regardless of whether you have kids or not, you are STILL morally obligated to your spouse. To suggest that there is an obligation only if children are involved is to suggest that the relationship between husband and wife is not as validated, IMO.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 10:03AM
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Phyllis, you are right. Thank you.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 5:48PM
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oh, auntjen
I'm proud of you. and while I don't have quite the history with you that your folks do...I obviously know you better than they ever bothered.

I'm disappointed in them for letting you marry Mr Competative in the first place!

(and trust me, while I was furious at the time, there came a day- when I truely understood what 'until death do us part' was supposed to mean- when I sat my parents down and thanked them for not letting me marry the guy who swept me off my feet. he's on his fifth child bride, now-)

I'm going to skirt the whole issue of faith lest Spike strike me down...but I am going to turn to a few here and quote some long-haired jewish boy from the boondocks

'Judge not'

and get back to the problem- which is how you're going to deal with your parents being more concerned with your reputation than your well-being.

my parents were disappointed in me when I picked the 'wrong' major. when I moved to the 'wrong' place. when I dated outside their religion, and their race, and their culture (note to self- jewish parents, Islamic boyfriend- girl stuck between irresistable force and immovable object!)

believe it or not... they've gotten over it.

Dad raised me to love art- he finally had to take the blame for me wanting to make beautiful things in my life more than I wanted a fancy career.

Dad raised me to respect people for themselves, not for their caste, color, or creed...he finally had to deal that me falling in love with people was his fault as well- he's even found common ground.

and dad raised me to trust my after 3 years of dealing with the long haired comic book geek, it became clear that my dad had to make a choice about what mattered- my happiness and well being, or his opinion.

my dad made his choice- and when he landed in the hospital this summer, and it was my inappropriate husband who drove to visit him (my brother couldn't be bothered)

we all got a new understanding of god's true wish for us...

that we love.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 4:18PM
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[Long essay about how folks should leave judging others to their god(s) deleted in interests on not going to Disney.]

Jen please remember that while it can be deflating to not receive praise and love from others, especially loved ones, you only have to please one person to be happy: yourself. You know in your heart whether you did the right thing, and none of us can or should pass judgement on that, including your parents.

I'm saddened by your parents and the others who would let their indignation stand between them and their children. A parent raises and nurtures their kids the best they can, but at some point they fly away and all you can do then is support them when they need it. I look at parents beseeching the judge in a criminal trial and think: Your child is a scumbag, how can you? Of course, how can they not?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 10:02PM
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Wow ... I stumbled back in here on a whim, and reading this caused me to renew my membership so that I could post in this forum again! ;-)

What an incredible difference TIME can make in a situation. Reading what I wrote back in August 2003, it seems almost as though a different person wrote those words. And thank goodness for that. Things are just so much different in my life now than they were then. I don't quite know where to begin, so I'll just hit the highlights:

In September 2003, the man I was living with and I purchased a 1940 cottage and moved in. Parents still weren't crazy about the fact that we were "living in sin".

Shortly thereafter, my 87-year old Grannie pulled my parents aside, and told them that I am the only daughter they were ever going to have, and while they did not have to like my choices, or agree with my choices, they DID have to accept my choices. Because life's just TOO damned short to be estranged from loved ones over things that, in the long run, work themselves out anyway. And that was pretty much the turning point.

In early October 2003, the man I had moved in with and I met my parents for a casual lunch. The mood was light, the conversation was lively, and afterwards, my dad told my mom, "Y'know, I think I kinda LIKE that guy. He didn't seem at all like he had anything to "prove" -- no agenda or anything."

We spent the holidays in the presence of my family and his.

In February 2004, he and I married in the living room of our cottage, with our dear families present. There was much laughter, much love, much acceptance ... and I felt then that my life was as I'd always dreamed it would be.

Fast forward to March 2005: My husband, my brother, my mom and I are all getting ready to take a much-anticipated vacation together (dad's staying at home this trip). I never dreamed that my mom would be in the same ROOM with the man I chose, much less WANT to VACATION with him, but this is what's happening. It's exciting. It's just ... good.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 7:05PM
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I came in to this late- had no idea how old the post was...

but I'm thrilled that your folks did the right thing- even if it took your grandmother! to set them straight on the simple difference between morals and ethics ;)

good for you- good for ALL of you :)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 10:02AM
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aunt jen, just either of you have children?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 9:22AM
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Yeah. Glad to hear everything worked out so wonderfully for you. and you go Grannie!!!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 8:50PM
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No, no kids. Unless you count the 4-footed variety.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 2:48PM
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I am glad to hear it. I am happy for you that you found love. I just did not want to think children lost their family for it. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2005 at 11:08PM
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