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Daughter Is Happy, But My Heart Breaks

January 19, 2014 | by Emuna Braverman

Sometimes the best advice is to do nothing.

Dear Emuna,

My daughter seems very happy in her marriage but I just don’t see it. She does all the work around the house and he does none. She works all day to support the family and goes to graduate school at night. Her husband, meanwhile, is slowly getting his Ph.D. – very slowly – and not bringing in any income. Oh, and did I mention that she’s expecting their first child? She’s happy but my heart breaks for her and I worry about the future. What should I do?

Mom with a Different Perspective

Dear Mom,

Nothing. You should do nothing. Actually, that’s wrong. You mentioned twice that your daughter is happy. You should thank the Almighty – loudly and clearly.

She may not have the type of marriage you have or the one that you envisioned for her but it sounds like she has the one she wants.

Don’t impose your assumptions or anxieties on her. Your job is to love her husband and respect her hard work. And, after the baby, a little babysitting help might not be remiss (as long as it’s done with a smile on your face and no comments about her lifestyle choices).

Dear Emuna,

My son is engaged to a lovely girl. They have been dating for a few years and we were really excited when my son finally proposed. They both live near us and we have spent a lot of time together. Her parents, on the other hand, live across the country and we have seen them rarely and briefly. Now that the kids are planning a wedding, we are spending more time with her parents and we don’t like what we see. They are overbearing and demanding and everything has to be their way. Yes, their financial outlay for the wedding will be greater than ours but that doesn’t justify treating us like dirt. What should we do?

Mother-in-Law to Be

Dear Mother-in-Law to Be,

Like the woman in the previous letter, the answer is: nothing. You should do nothing. You should smile and keep your mouth shut. You should definitely not say anything to your son. Don’t let your relationship with her parents cause stress or problems for your son and his fiancé.

The wedding is only one evening; then they will return to their home across the country and you will once again see them rarely and briefly.

Until then, bite your tongue. They are NOT going to change and you need to be the bigger person and just try to ensure that everything runs smoothly for your son and his future wife. You are doing a tremendous kindness for your son, even though he doesn’t know it, and enabling them to begin their married life in peace. That is your true wedding gift for them.

Dear Emuna,

I have a great job with a non-profit organization that does wonderful and important work. I feel proud to be able to make a contribution. My co-workers feel the same way and we are all willing to put in long and hard hours to support the organization. The only downside is my boss. He’s very difficult. He’s extremely critical and shoots down every idea I have. I want to keep my job because I believe in the cause, because I value my friendships with my colleagues and because I need the money. But some days dealing with my employer is just so frustrating. What do you think I should do?

Disgruntled Employee

Dear Disgruntled,

It seems that my answer is yet again “nothing”! I think you’ve made your own argument. You’ve listed all the reasons why you like and need this job. It would be unwise and financially imprudent to walk away from it.

As for your boss, some of it you just have to accept. Sometimes we get frustrated because we tell ourselves that “it shouldn’t be this way”. But it is. And we are usually better off just accepting the reality than constantly railing against it.

We can also learn from it. If your boss always attacks your ideas, stop presenting them to him. For whatever reason (ego?), he’s not receptive and you just keep putting yourself in a position to get hurt if you continue this unproductive behavior.

Either find a way to implement these ideas on your own or just table them for now.

In today’s economy, you are lucky to have a job – and a meaningful one at that. There is not job that doesn’t have some negative elements – some drudgery and some difficult people. Accepting this will give you greater peace of mind and, paradoxically, greater job fulfillment.

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