Family Unties

8 May

Dear LetterBalm: My husband and I have been married for five years, and during all that time my family has never accepted him and has tried to break us apart. I think the reason they’ve been so determined is because when he was younger, Alvin served time in prison for theft. My family doesn’t believe he’s changed, even though he hasn’t been in trouble since then, and he’s been an excellent husband. Well, three months ago, they finally succeeded in persuading me to leave him. I moved in with my sister, but I think I made a really bad mistake. I miss Alvin and I love him – I never should have left. He knows where I am, but he’s made no attempt to contact me. What can I say to Alvin to take me back and convince my family to leave us alone?

–Full of Regret

First order of business: Stop talking to your family about your marriage. (Ms. L.B. would write that in capital letters, but it’s impolite.) Your family is an indomitable bunch, and it may take some time (and some counseling) for you to develop the backbone you need to keep them out of all of your business, not just your marriage. Tell them in no uncertain terms to butt out – and stick with it. Your husband is another matter. He’s had five years of your family belittling him and urging his wife to leave him. How do you think he feels? First, meet with him in person, don’t talk about this with anyone and throw yourself on his mercy. Then, deal with your family. Here are two scripts that might help. Husband first, then, depending on what the two of you decide and what direction your counseling takes, your family second:

Alvin, I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life and I want to be your wife again, if you’ll have me. I am profoundly sorry to have put you through such pain. I’ve allowed my toxic family to poison our marriage, and this will never happen again. I know it will be hard for you to believe me, but I am entering counseling to deal with why they have had such control over me. You have been nothing but an exceptional husband – I’m lucky to have you, and I will love you always. Please talk to me and tell me what you feel and what you want me to do to come back to you to rebuild our marriage.

Family, I am finished with your toxic interference in my marriage. Alvin and I have reconciled – and he is the better person for taking me back after all the pain I’ve put him though at your hands. Here’s the bottom line: I will not discuss my marriage with you ever again, and I will not tolerate your attempts to interfere. If you keep it up, I will walk out of your lives. I don’t want to do it, but I will for the sake of a wonderful man who has always been the best husband ever.

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