Help me figure out what to say to my mom (long)

Short version: My mom is remarrying her ex-husband. I think it’s a big mistake. What do I say to her?

Long version: They got married in 1994, after being together for 2 or 3 years. He was a former Jehovah’s Witness, and a recovering alcoholic (sober for several years before they met).

They moved a few times, due to his inability to keep a job for very long (he’s a glazier, so always found work in his trade, but never got along well with his bosses). They lived in the isolation of Port Hardy, BC (northern tip of Vancouver Island), the dreariness of Thunder Bay, ON (no offense to any T.B. residents), and the beauty of Bermuda.

About 4 years after they got married they both converted to become Jehovah’s Witnesses.

3 years ago my mom finally got tired of his obsessiveness (he is the kind of person who will dwell on one little thing for hours and hours on end - like an OCD dog with a bone), his employment issues, his depression, his selfishness, his threats to kill himself if she ever left him, his impractical dreams which led them to bankrtupcy twice … and probably more that I don’t know about or can’t think of right now. So she left him and moved back to Vancouver Island on her own.

For a little while before she moved to the Island they needed a place to stay, so I loaned them my apartment and stayed with my boyfriend. During that period I had a slight disagreement with my Mom, and he got involved and said (well, emailed) some horribly insulting things to me. I wasn’t hurt by what he said, because his opinion has never mattered to me. But I WAS hurt when I found out that my mom had typed the emails for him. That was 3 1/2 years ago and although I’ve forgiven her, I haven’t forgiven him, and I haven’t forgotten how it felt.

Anyway, since then he deceived her about money and rarely paid her spousal support on time; when she didn’t want any more contact with him he stalked her to the point of her getting an unlisted phone number, and he also contacted the elders of her church (? not sure if that’s what JW’s call it) to try to get information about her, and to ask them to plead his case with her. He started drinking again, and got kicked out of the church.

In mid-May of this year my mom was visiting us and only mentioned his name once, in a derogatory way. Her travel plans were a little sketchy and she mentioned that if she ever got stuck in Vancouver (where he lives), she knew she could “use” him and he’d help her out and take care of her. She said she hoped she didn’t need his help because she didn’t want to see him. She also mentioned that he has been working on getting back into the faith and that she was afraid he was doing it just to have a chance at getting back together with her, and she laughed about it.

At the end of May she told me they had been talking and he has “changed” and there was a possibility they might reconcile. A few days ago she emailed me that she is packing up her things and moving to Vancouver a.s.a.p. so they can get married.

I don’t know what to say to her. I can’t congratulate her, it would be too hypocritical. All I’ve said so far is that (a) he will never be welcome in my home or near my daughter, so future visits with her will be awkward to arrange, and (b) that I will never forget the things he said to me.

Any words of wisdom? I truly want my mom to be happy. I’m worried that she is desperate for companionship because she is 61 and worrying about growing old all alone, so she is talking herself into this relationship. Help!

I think that what you have said so far is about all you can say. You have the right to keep him away from your child and not welcome him into your home. I can understand not being forgiving of the hateful things he said to you. However, your mother is an adult and supposedly capable of making her own decisions. No matter how hurt you are, or how much you think she is making a big mistake, don’t say things you can’t take back that will damage your relationship with your mother.

Thanks, and I agree that I shouldn’t say anything mean or hurtful, however, this relationship & upcoming marriage have really affected how I view my mom.

It has left me with nothing to talk to her about. I am used to being honest with her and to getting things out in the open, but about this, I cannot.

“Mom, I love you and hope that you will be happy. I’m always here for you if you need me. I wish you all the best.”


Well, unfortunately, you can’t stop her from making a mistake. You might want to let her know that you can’t support her decision, so she won’t be surprised when you don’t show up to the wedding, when you don’t come visit, when you don’t let your stepfather see your kidlet, etc.

After that, ditto sandra_nz.

I’m all for the “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” mentality. Your mom is going into this situation knowing full well what happened before. It’s possible your stepfather has changed, who knows. But I can understand you not wanting to resume the relationship.

If your mom comes running to you for help, then help her. But if she goes back to him a third time, she’s on her own if things fall apart again.

Thanks everyone.

I guess I need to hear that it’s okay for me to be upset/worried/concerned about this.

She has let me down numerous times since she and my dad split up when I was a teenager. Over the past 20 years she has never truly been “there” for me, yet has expected me to always be “there” for her, ready to support her regardless of the circumstances.

What I WANT to tell her is “You’re making your bed - the same dysfunctional bed you worked so hard to leave - so LIE IN IT !!! Don’t come running to me for help when it falls apart because I am done.”

But I can’t say that … sigh … so I guess I will keep my silence. It just sucks because for all of our differences & history, I like to think we were working towards building a healthier relationship before this happened. Now I can’t see us ever reaching that goal, and it makes me so sad.

Thanks for listening.

I found that my relationship with my parents improved when I stopped wishing they were the people I expected them to be and started accepting them as the people they are. I finally realized that my parents are just like all other people with weaknesses and frailties. They are just as fallible as I am. Accepting their flaws has helped me love them more not less.

Why can’t you say that? Maybe not those words, but you can certainly tell her in a kind and loving way that you can’t support this decision.

Your mom is who she is. I agree with askeptic…you can’t make her into what YOU want her to be. Do what you can for your own peace of mind.

Thanks in part to the rational advice I received here, I was able to compose an honest yet tactful email to my mother on Saturday.

I told her that I could not support her relationship with her ex, but that I respect her decision. I also said that I hope she is happy and safe but that if things change, she is able to find the strength to take care of herself, like she has in the past.

She replied that she was getting married the next day and that I need to learn how to forgive, and that I need to change my opinion of her husband. :dubious:

So we’ve both said our piece, we’re at an impasse, and I guess it will stay that way for a while. Once things calm down we’ll resume our biweekly chit-chatty emails that say nothing and mean nothing, but at least we’ll keep in touch in some way.

Thanks again for your opinions.