My daughter’s husband left her and their two small children about nine months ago. I am worried about her because she still holds out hope that her ex-husband will come home. The divorce has been finalized (he didn’t want custody of the children so it went through relatively quickly) and they were married in the Catholic Church but she refuses to look into the annulment process, which is something I want her to do so she can be free of this man. But she insists she married her ex-husband for life and she wants to wait for him to come to his senses and return to the family. She spends a lot of time at church praying for this to happen. I’ve tried to talk some sense into her but she refuses to see that he’s not coming back. All her friends think she’s crazy for wanting him back and they are worried about her, too. How can I help my daughter get over this man who has hurt his family so terribly?
– A Concerned Mom in Michigan
Dear Concerned Mom,
My heart goes out to you! No doubt, you are suffering terribly as you watch these events unfold for your daughter and grandchildren and it’s only natural that you would want to help and protect your family. Your daughter is lucky to have you on her side.
You are dealing with one of the blurriest issues of divorce I can think of, which is handling your daughter’s desire to wait for her husband to come back while you believe the best thing to do is for her to move forward and leave the past behind. My suggestion to you at this moment is to step back and let her wait. Please allow me to explain why.
First, it sounds like you’ve done a great job raising your daughter because she understands the permanency of marriage and is willing to forgive her ex-husband for his transgressions. Her willingness to forgive him and take him back alone is an act of heroic virtue these days. The message society gives us is, Get rid of the bum! Make him pay! Very few people, if any these days, are willing to endure the hard work and suffering that comes with healing a marriage.
Here are some reasons why it would be important for you to continue to press your point with your daughter:
- If her ex-husband was physically, verbally, or emotionally abusing her and/or the children
- If there was some other danger present in the home (pornography, etc.)
- If she has become depressed to the point she is incapacitated and doesn’t leave the house or needs help taking care of the children.
If none of these circumstances are part of the equation, my advice to you then, is to give her the space she needs to be true to her conscience. You helped her cultivate her conscience the right way, and now she needs to follow it until she feels a different direction is needed.
There is nothing wrong with hoping for the restoration of her family. Although a rare occasion, husbands have come back to their wives before. It also happens that sometimes husbands see the error of their ways and want to come back, but the wife has become so hostile and angry that she is the one blocking the door, making it impossible for the family to be unified again. It shouldn’t matter if her friends think she’s crazy for wanting her family restored, it’s her life.
Second, if your daughter is spending a lot of time in prayer over this situation as you explained, then I would trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Of course we know that God won’t force her ex-husband to return, but He will lead your daughter on the right path. When the time is right, she will know if and when the time is right for moving forward and beginning a new life for her and her children.
In the meantime, I’m sure having you around for positive support means the world to her. Let her talk about it as much as she wants to talk about it and you don’t have to give her all the answers. She needs to figure this out for herself. Just listen to her and support her, as you already have been, and you will be giving her a priceless gift.
Please count on my prayers for you, your daughter, and all your family.
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