My daughter’s husband has ruined our family. How do I cope?

Morning everyone!

This past Saturday I spoke at a lovely church in Springtown, PA on the topic, Lord I Just Want to be Happy! It was so encouraging to me to see men and women excited to embrace the truths God sets forth in his Word for our emotional well-being and health. I love, love LOVE this part of what I do. The writing part is so hard for me , but when I see people excited about applying God’s word to life, then it’s all worth it.

I want to ask you all a huge favor. My new granddaughter, Amaya is 6 months old. She is sitting up and crawling around and seeing her every week on SKYPE is not enough. She lives in Southern California with her mommy and daddy. But I’d like to see her more often. If you know someone who is involved in a church in the LA area, do you think you could pass on my name for some possible speaking events? Perhaps then I can get some extra time to spend with Amaya. Thanks.

This Week’s Question: My daughter and her husband are coming up on 5 years of marriage. It’s been the longest, painful, 5 years of our life. We have tried everything we know how to help, support, involve them, love them, and he just doesn’t want it. He said right from the beginning, “My goal is to break this family apart!” We are tired, hurt, angry, in pain, suffering from the death of a healthy relationship with our daughter, because he says, “I’m intimidated by you guys.”

We were a very tight, loving family until he and his family came along. We just saw her recently at a family wedding and it tore me up. Right now there is little or no communication. I’m feeling I just need to have her out of my life completely in order to heal. I’m struggling with that. Truthfully, it’s very close to that now. I love her so much, our only child for 12 years, until our other daughter came along. I don’t know where to go with the pain. I’m questioning why God would allow this to happen and whether or not there even is a God. I’m hurting.

I’m still hanging on by a thread but barely. What more could God want me to learn and endure?

Answer: I am so sorry for what you’re going through. It is so hard to trust God when we cannot understand why he allows certain things to happen in our lives. When it doesn’t make sense to us, we’re often tempted with the thought that God is not good or that there must not be a God at all.

I hope you grasp that in addition having to deal with the pain of losing your daughter’s closeness with your family; you are in a real spiritual battle. Like Job in the Old Testament, you are struggling to understand why God would allow such hardship into your life. Please hear me. Theological truths don’t always bring a whole lot of comfort in the midst of our affliction, but nevertheless, they’re important so that we can at least understand a little bit of what might be going on.

The challenge that Satan posed to God regarding Job was this. “Job only loves you and serves you because you bless him. Take that away and he will curse you.” (See Job 1 for the story.) I think the same sort of challenge unfolds in many of our lives. When it seems to us that God is good, it is easy to love him, praise him, and trust him. But when life feeds us bitter herbs, we often don’t want anything to do with him and our faith and trust plummet.

It seems like you might be facing this kind of temptation. The enemy’s lies feel so much truer than God’s Word. Jeremiah, a prophet in the Old Testament is a good example of this struggle. In Lamentations 3 he is very angry with God. He feels like God has lied to him and used him and Jeremiah is angry, hurt and faithless. Yet in verse 21 of Chapter 3, he has a remarkable turnaround in the way he sees things. He says, “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope.” Nothing in Jeremiah’s situation changed. What changed was his perspective but because of this shift, Jeremiah had hope.

I wish I had something to say to you that would turn this situation with your daughter around. I wish I had a way to help you make your son in law feel safe, or trust you or love your family. But honestly, I don’t. But what I can tell you is that your suffering has brought you into the afflictions of Christ. He knows what it feels like to offer love, fellowship, and closeness, and be rejected. He knows what it feels like to long for relationship and to be spurned. Read his heart-felt cry in Matthew when he says, “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, I would have gathered you together …..but you would not.” (Matthew 23:37).

That said, in the meantime, how do you live with the very real reality of brokenness in your family? I would strongly urge you NOT to break off all contact with your daughter in order to deal with your pain. I understand that seems easier right now but put yourself in her shoes for a moment. She has married a man who does not want her to have a close relationship with her family. That puts her in the middle and in a terrible dilemma. She has chosen to distance herself from you in order to make him feel better. That hurts, but if you turn around and distance yourself from her because of your pain, that only gives him more ammunition to justify his feelings.

I want to give you two other things to think about. In my counseling practice I’ve worked with many young women who needed to take a break from the closeness with their mother. As a mother of a young woman, I know would that would feel like to me so please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say. But for the young woman to mature into who God made her to be, she needed to separate more from her mother. It was good for the daughter even though it was extremely painful for the mother. Mother’s who were patient and affirming with that separation time, eventually reaped the benefit of a renewed relationship with their daughter. Mother’s that couldn’t tolerate that distance and used guilt, manipulation, and/ or rejection to try to get their daughter to come closer only got more distance.

The second thing I want you to think about is that if your daughter is in an abusive relationship with her husband, his strategy would be to isolate her from her family and support system. If you distance yourself from her because of your pain, then whatever resource you could be for her or source of support you could provide her might be lost. I know it’s very tough right now to accept that you have minimal contact and a superficial relationship but at least you have some contact and that might be crucial for her.

God sees your hurt and Jesus knows your heart. You can go to him and he totally get’s your pain (Hebrews 4:15,16). Satan has already scored a victory when your son-in-law’s fear ruled him. Please don’t give Satan another victory by allowing him to rob you of your faith and your peace. Although it feels like death right now, please choose life! (Deuteronomy 30: 19,20).

Readers: How have you chosen Life when evil threatens to overwhelm you? How have you kept your faith when it feels like God's not there or doesn't care?

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  1. Anonymous on September 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    This is not related to this week's post-

    You’ve asked in a previous blog for feedback for your new book about , What every woman needs to know and teach her daughter.

    I wish my mother had taught me how to pray and have intimacy with God. Many women in my life have modeled godliness in their lives, but not shared the moments, the more personal private times sort of “behind the scenes” in getting to the place they are with God. Not seeing that modeled in a personal way makes it difficult to comprehend and know how to practice through the different stages of life. I have read most of your books and find myself going back to places in each book where you have shared about how you have done that. I know that everyone is different and how we experience God varies, but those things have been so incredibly helpful for me in learning how to abide with Him. I would love for you to combine or expand on those things so that I can learn to practice them in a genuine way and model and teach my daughters ways they can get to know God better, too.

    Thanks for considering people's feedback. Good luck with your writing- it makes a difference!

  2. Julie on September 13, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Dear Leslie,
    I couldn't wait for your Godly insight on this tender subject in our family! Our 15 year old and my husband & I have alot to pray about and talk about after your heartfelt message today. Thank you from all of us to encourage us to keep the faith, even in the midst of a long and draining "storm". I can't wait to meet you in person and am on a waiting list for more of His love through you. Julie & family <3

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