The Hamilton Spectator
Mom worried child is marrying too young
Q My 20-year-old daughter is excited about starting her university education in September. She’s also said she and her boyfriend of four months intend to get engaged soon.
I like her boyfriend. He’s 24, smart, ambitious and has been in a professional course for the past three years. He seems to adore my daughter.
But I’m worried she’s making this decision and talking about marriage way too soon. She’s previously hung out with one boy or another at her high school, but they were always just friends.
When I mention she’s had no experience of a full commitment to someone, and with him in a different university pursuing further post-graduate studies, they’ll be apart for much of the period of her getting her bachelor’s degree.
I know she’s an adult and can do what she wants. But I also know from my personal experience that marrying too young can highlight problems between the couple that weren’t detected until it’s too late. Advice, please!
A She’s not you. And she’s not living in your time frame. She has her own goals regarding education and has chosen a future partner who’s pursuing a career track.
Yes, she’s young, but she seems sensible regarding the future. Your role, then, isn’t to alert her to pitfalls of marrying young. It’s to listen. If she’s mentioning doubts about her future education path, ask her more about it, and encourage her to talk to a career counsellor if provided at the school, or someone in that field elsewhere.
Also, consider the couple’s plan for getting engaged. Gently ask why this is important right now. You may hear perfectly logical answers regarding the distance between their schools, related to how often they can see each other. Perhaps one or both of them has separation fears regarding being apart for weeks, possibly months.
Time will soon show whether there are weak links in their still-early commitment. That’s for them to handle.
Meanwhile, your best role, when plans are still being discussed by the couple, is to be a support for your daughter, not a worrier expressing doubts in advance related to your past divorce.
Your experience as a young bride doesn’t foretell whatever led you to a divorce. Your ex-husband and her hopeful fiancé may have no commonality at all.
Relating today’s young couple to a long-past time is more about your hurt from back then, than your daughter’s current and promising situation.
Q I loved my husband deeply. We raised two children and stayed close as a family through his first heart attack.
When he recovered, we all felt hugely relieved. My husband followed a gentle fitness program, a “heart-healthy” diet, and insisted we keep a positive attitude. Sadly, he died at 70. It was a harsher loss than any of us could accept. I grieved privately, deeply.
Three years later, a widower I only knew casually, suggested we occasionally have dinner together or go for a walk rather than each staying home alone grieving.
Two years later, we’re a “couple,” travelling together but living separately. Our children (his two are older than mine) have accepted this. Your thoughts?
A The loss of a loved one is always painful. Yet death is a fact of life. Once grief can be handled — grief counselling is sometimes needed — facing the future and accepting change is essential to moving forward.
Ellie’s tip of the day
Don’t attribute factors in your life years back to having similar effects on your daughter’s life today.