What does boy­cotting son’s sec­ond wed­ding ac­com­plish?

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - OUR TOWN - CAROLYN HAX

DEAR CAROLYN: My son, who is 46 and lives on the West Coast, has been in a tu­mul­tuous re­la­tion­ship with a woman 10 years his ju­nior. He was mar­ried pre­vi­ously and has been di­vorced for over 10 years. He met his cur­rent girl­friend about four years ago but the re­la­tion­ship has been off and on, and he never failed to call and cry on my shoul­der about it.

Re­cently he brought the girl­friend here to the Midwest to visit and an­nounce their en­gage­ment. I got to know his fi­ancee and like her very much and was thrilled to hear about the wed­ding plans.

A cou­ple of months af­ter this visit, the fi­ancee texted that my son hadn’t worked for three months, won’t look for a job, and is hang­ing out with un­sa­vory char­ac­ters. She vowed she would not marry “a 46-year-old man with no job.”

I talked to my son, who was de­fen­sive as you might ex­pect, and en­cour­aged them to put off the wed­ding, get coun­sel­ing and not marry un­til mu­tual re­spect, love and trust are as­sured.

Since then, he has got­ten a job, which he likes, and the wed­ding is back on, in Cal­i­for­nia in six weeks. He said they “talked about” their prob­lems and de­cided to go ahead with the plans.

I still haven’t got­ten over the dis­may and sad­ness around this sce­nario, and I fear he’s go­ing down the same path he did in his first mar­riage. So my hus­band (my son’s fa­ther is de­ceased) and I de­cided we would not go to

the wed­ding.

Am I right to make that de­ci­sion? I feel ter­ri­ble for not sup­port­ing my son, but I wouldn’t feel hon­est in cel­e­brat­ing some­thing I don’t be­lieve in, not to men­tion the ex­pense of the trip.

— S. DEAR READER: What do you hope to ac­com­plish by not go­ing?

Sav­ing money — I see that. But the other part you cite is that you “wouldn’t feel hon­est.” So, by not go­ing, is that what you ac­com­plish — hon­esty? And if so, is that (and its at­ten­dant face-slap to your son) a wor­thier out­come than show­ing sup­port, or love, or faith or what­ever your son would take away from hav­ing his mom show up?

Read this aloud in the right tone of voice and no doubt it’ll sound like a guilt trip. That’s not at all what I in­tend. I’m ad­vis­ing you to do the emo­tional math: Would you rather be right, or there?

You are right to ques­tion the chances of such a volatile cou­ple. You were right about pa­tience and coun­sel­ing (though stay­ing out of it seems wiser and long over­due). You’re right to be mindful of your son’s his­tory, and skep­ti­cal of their rush to wed.

But. Some­times there is glory in be­ing wrong.

In the will­ing­ness to be wrong, at least: in show­ing up for your son, and lik­ing his fi­ancee, and be­liev­ing his re­cent turn­around will stick, and toast­ing the triumph of hope, and leav­ing the “… over ex­pe­ri­ence” com­pas­sion­ately un­spo­ken.

He did, af­ter all, turn things around, and you can’t be sure it’s tem­po­rary un­til it is.

And, he’s your kid. You love him, yes? So go and say, “Your bride is lovely. I wish you noth­ing but hap­pi­ness.” Where’s the lie in that? Chat on­line with Carolyn at 11 a.m. each Friday at wash­ing­tonpost.com. Write to Tell Me About It in care of The Wash­ing­ton Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Wash­ing­ton, D.C. 20071; or email


Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group/NICK GALIFIANAKIS

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