I'm in my late twenties, and my unhappily married parents are getting a rather acrimonious divorce. Both parents want my support, but I've sort of been mostly focusing on my father, as he is depressed, lonely (my mother has a new partner) and has to sell the family home by himself. This has caused my (formerly very close) relationship with my mother to disintegrate to the point where we are no longer on speaking terms, which has placed a lot of unwanted stress on me (I've just come out of an eight year relationship). How do I patch things up with my mother without everything getting emotional? (Long explanation inside)
posted by Piroska to human relations (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Early last year, it turned out that my mother was cheating on my father with a married friend of the family, who lives in the same small village as my parents, and who's wife was my mother's employer. My parents had not had a very happy marriage (mostly due to my father's alcoholism and also the fact that he is a very introverted and antisocial person, while she is optimistic and very sociable) and I had been half-heartedly encouraging my mother to move out for years, but this seemed a bit drastic. My father felt betrayed and devastated and tried everything he could think of to get my mother to come back to him, including stopping drinking and paying for her to go and see her parents overseas, but she said she couldn't live with him, and moved in with the guy she had the affair with.
At first I was very upset and angry with both my parents for letting this happen, especially my mother, and I said some pretty horrible things to her, which I regret. Her side of the family, who I used to live with, and who are like my second family, told me off for not being supportive enough, and things got pretty uncomfortable for a while. I was having some relationship difficulties with my then boyfriend too, and I felt like I had both parents bitching in either ear about the other one. Eventually I went to the doctor and was prescribed antidepressants, which helped a lot, and which I am still taking, and I also saw a psychologist. I managed to patch things up with my mother, and when my younger brother came back from overseas he hung out with my father a lot and took some of the pressure off me.
Since the separation, my mother has become increasingly immature and selfish. She refuses to be civil to my father, and constantly tries to find negative things to say about him. She is also being very obstructive with things to do with the sale of the family home and the way the money will be divided, and basically acts as if she doesn't care what happens to my father. Both my brother and I feel uncomfortable hanging out with her and her new boyfriend, but she insisted that we have Christmas with them, and when we went to see our half-sister and her children instead (whom we only see a few times a year) and saw her on Boxing Day instead, she got really miffed, and still goes on about it. I feel that she is pushing everything too fast be expecting us to play happy families with her and her boyfriend, whom I don't particularly like. I used to have a fantastic relationship with her, we were very close and phoned each other several times a week and wrote letters (we live in different states) but now we don't call or write. The last few times I have seen her, we've chatted about superficial things, and not talked about the real problem.
Last week she sent me a six page letter basically telling me that I was behaving badly and then going on for about 4 pages about all the instances when my father was awful during my childhood, and how could I side with him. The whole tone of the letter was mostly anger that I wasn't taking her side, and there was no mention of the fact that she missed talking to me or missed having a relationship with me. I didn't want to respond, as I though I might say something in haste and then regret it, so I just ignored it. I had to go interstate and visit my father to help him clean up the house for a house inspection, but I didn't tell my mother, because I was still upset about her letter. Of course, out of the blue she came round to the house, and was hurt that I hadn't told her I was visiting. Now I know that she will think that I am ever more horrible, but I just don't think I can deal with her at the moment. I feel bad for hurting her feelings, but I want her to realise that she's behaving weirdly. I know my father was a crappy husband, but I have a good realationship with him now, and it seems useless to bring up all that stuff which is over and done with. Any advice about handling parents divorces as an adult will be greatly appreciated!