It's a rotten situation: you don't like the woman your son is about to marry. Should you be honest and tell him – or remain silent?
Q. Our son is planning to marry a woman we don’t think is right for him. To be blunt, we don’t really like her much either. She is 14 years younger, extremely childish and clingy, barely supports herself and is uneducated. Our son, in contrast, is well-educated, has a good job and is responsible. But he seems to have the blinders on. (Other family members totally agree.) We wonder if his fiancé sees him as her meal ticket. We can’t understand why he’s so enamoured, but we suspect if they do marry that it won’t last. We know it’s not our choice to make but we also wonder if we should be saying something before it’s too late.
Irene and Ray, Ottawa
A. That’s a rotten situation, and you may not like the advice you’re going to get, but here goes: you need to tell your son how you feel. In fact, you should tell both your son and his fiancé how you feel.
I know, I know. That sounds impossibly awkward, but that’s the advice offered by Dr. Guy Grenier, a London, Ont.-based clinical psychologist and author. Dr. Grenier says there are three important factors essential for a healthy relationship: love, conflict management and a lot of similarities. Rather than saying something like, "We don’t like the fact you have a lousy job and our son has a good career” or “We think you’re badly matched," Dr. Grenier suggests you try something like, “We have real doubts about the viability of this relationship. We know that one of the three important things in a healthy relationship is similarities, and we see a lot of dissimilarities between the two of you.”
But no matter how you choose to say it, something needs to be said, he insists. You may worry you’ll offend the couple and you might, but there’s also a risk in saying nothing.
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