getting married again creating relationship problems / Daughter an
Dear Ann Landers: My parents were divorced when I was 5, and my father married another woman. Now, 15 years later, my father is getting another divorce.
Although I was never close to my stepmother, I did become fond of several members of her family. Dad’s divorce is pretty messy, and he expects me to avoid his ex’s family. Now that they are no longer related to me, should I stop contact with them, I love them, and they are like family to me. Please tell me what to do.—CINDY IN WISCONSIN
Dear Cindy: You are a 20-year-old woman and should feel free to decide whose company to keep. Stay friendly with whomever you like, and make no apologies. —ANN
Hi Cindy: Your request is a setup. You have an unconscious way of relating with people that divides them.
For example: If I answer, dump the "family" members, a large percentage of readers would be very upset. If I advised you to ignore your father’s ultimatum, it would turn the other half also against me.
If your intention is to have something on your tombstone other than, "She lived and died and made no significant contribution to humankind other than to turn family members against each other, without knowing how she did it," then read the following. The other option is to continue believing that you have absolutely nothing to do with the success or failure of other’s relationships.
At some point in time it would be valuable for you to look into the heart of your heart and see if you can discover why the genius in you would hex both marriages. In other words, you underestimate the power of your leadership-communication skills, your communication model, and your intentions, however unconscious you may have been. My sense is that what you're really up to is to restore everyone's integrity; you're just going about it covertly and ineffectively, without sufficient training. Always keep in mind, everyone who is/was associating with your dad during each marriage is also a silent conspirator; it's their leadership-communication skills that unconsciously thwarted both marriages (read Wedding Guest Vow). In other words, you need to know who to play with in life, people who positively support things working or people who negatively support things in not working while pretending they are not responsible (cause).
Whenever there is a failed relationship look for the third party who has a vested interest in its failure. Most often this person plays the role of an ally in the drama. The saboteur is always there if you look with intention to find him/her.* Two clues: Notice who was in your father’s life during both failures. It has to be a person pretending to not be a leader. Notice also that you chose as "fond" friends those who unconsciously sabotaged your stepmother’s marriage, all the while pretending they were in support of its success. There is a way to communicate, to relate, that supports relationships in working and there is a way of relating (communicating) that supports relationships in failing. The subject of support is not taught in public schools.
It would work for you to get clear as to the cause of your dad's divorces. If, say, he was an abusive condecending control freak, or racist, or doing something illegal, or addicted to drugs, then it's irresponsible of him to expect you to discontinue relating with fond friends. If abuse, you need to know that both parties in domestic abuse are equally abusive, there is no such thing as one person being more abusive than the other (each may abuse differently) however, abuse always begets abuse. In your life, you always always cause the abuse.
"What to do?" Keep doing what you have been doing until you get to the truth about this powerful ability of yours. Hanging out with either side is a no win for you. You will bring your communication model, this way of relating, into your marriage and unconsciously teach your children how to relate the same way. Ugh! Another option is to commit to 25 hours of individual therapy. Another option is to invite your dad and an ex to a home cooked meal and mediate a family clearing so that you can get clear exactly what happened from both sides; the one who refuses to accept your invitation is the one who has something to hide—estrange yourself from that person with a therapy ultimatum.
Thanks for the great
letter. It’s an issue not commonly discussed. —Gabby
* Saboteur in this case means, someone who badmouths one of the parties behind his/her back, and doesn't tell the truth to both parties (such a person is addicted to withholding thoughts thereby causing breakdowns in communication) and, because they are not clear about responsibility, they takes sides in arguments.
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occasionally for minor edits (last edited 12/7/12)
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Check back occasionally for minor edits (last edited 12/7/12)