Spouse chooses family over husband, comforting an adult child after ending a relationship

Questions this week focus on how to reconnect with a spouse who is connected to her parents for love and support, and how a worried mother can help her daughter through a heartbreak. Both questions offer an opportunity for developing a richer and more intimate relationship with a spouse and a daughter. When we look at problems as potential for building a better and more intimate marriage or mother-daughter relationship, we become the best spouse/mother we can be. Many times problems are what we need to bring us closer to the one we love.

Dear Mary Jo,

It's been one year. My spouse lied and talked negative about me to her family/friends behind my back. I may not be a good husband, but I am honest, loyal and I always communicate to sort things out, but she doesn't. She defends her family even though they're wrong. I have no idea how to continue in this relationship if I can't trust her behind my back. She runs to them and takes their side instead of supporting me. What should I do?



Dear DJ,

I am glad you are honest, loyal and communicate, but it sounds as though you are not communicating well with your wife. If she feels more attached to her family than she does to you, that's a problem. You need to reinvest in the marriage and engage with her in regards to solving this problem. It sounds as though what you have tried in the past has not been successful, and therefore, I would try something new. I advise you both to list what's going well in the marriage, and then two things you want to fix. Take that list to a marital therapist and be willing to make the changes that can heal your marriage. Wanting her to recognize her mistakes and turn to you won't happen if you're all talk and no love actions. When you do what's best for your marriage instead of focusing on who's right or wrong you improve your marriage.

Dear Mary Jo,

My 19-year-old daughter is going through a breakup and she is taking it hard. She is not eating and is crying all the time. I have no idea how to comfort her because she keeps saying I don't understand. Can you help me?


Worried Mom

Dear Worried Mom,

Begin by telling your daughter you may not understand what she is feeling, but you do want to be there and support her in whatever way you can. If she continues not eating well and crying for more than two weeks she should talk to a counselor. As her mom there is information she will not want to confide in with you, and a trained therapist will help support her emotionally and encourage her to move forward in her life.

Continue to be there and listen to her. Talking about the breakup over and over will actually help her move through it. Taking walks with her and encouraging her to exercise will help her calm anxiety and boost her mood. Through all of this you will mentor the incredible capacity for a mom's love if you support her by listening and being there for her.

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