On imminent divorce.

Dear Coquette,

I’m 19 years old and my parents have been married for 25 years. Today, my mom confessed to me that she’s fallen out of love with my dad. She said she has lost a lot of respect for him over the years because of how certain situations have been handled.

In the past year, our dog died and my family has gone into financial ruin. My mom and I have severe anxiety (and she has depression), so I try to help my mom by talking things out with her when she is worried. She’s developed a lot of guilt for the lack of love she feels for my dad, and in turn contemplates a divorce. She has already let my dad know all of this.

My parents’ marriage has always seemed so picture-perfect. This is why I was so surprised to hear what my mom had to say today. My parents never fight (mostly because my dad is super passive) so I wasn’t aware of anything.

I respect both of my parents so much, and I just don’t understand why two good, intelligent, caring people could fall out of love with each other. I don’t know how to approach this situation while I am home from college for the summer. I know I can’t control any part of the situation at hand, but I can’t shake the feeling of helplessness. I wish I could convince my mom to maybe consider the fact that she is going through a very tough time right now, and that maybe she feels that way because of everything else happening at the moment.

Sorry, kid. It’s time for a little brutal truth. The only reason your parents aren’t divorced yet is because they can’t afford it.

It’s one thing for your mom to fall out of love with your dad. That happens. People in committed, long-term relationships can fall in and out of love with each other, but once the respect is gone, that’s it. If your mom is capable of effectively communicating to you that she’s lost respect for your dad, the marriage is all but over.

You’re right that your parents are going through a very tough time right now, and they definitely feel the way they do because of everything that is happening at the moment, but that doesn’t mean the damage done to their relationship is reversible, and it certainly isn’t on you to fix it.

Your parents definitely need marriage counseling, but you can’t be their therapist. You are the child in this family, and even though you’re a college-aged adult who has essentially flown the nest, the parent/child dynamic you’ve always known isn’t going to change all that much.

The best thing for you to do is embrace the helplessness you’re feeling right now. In other words, face your fears of your parents’ imminent divorce. By all means, try and get them into couples counseling, but don’t try and be the one to referee or repair their marriage.

Make sure they both know they have your unconditional love, and make sure you know you have theirs as well. Beyond that, you really have to accept the fact that you can’t control the situation.


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