My son divorced many years ago. He is now getting serious about another lady. I believe in “marriage till death do us part.” His ex-wife is still alive and my son is not to remarry as long as his ex-wife is still alive. My son is committing adultery by remarrying according to the Bible. I can support him and his new wife after they are married. But I cannot support what they are doing before that day. What do you think I should tell my son if they do have a wedding and I don’t plan to be there?
I’m guessing your son already knows how you feel about marriage, divorce, and remarriage. If he doesn’t know how you feel about these topics, I’m not sure how you sharing your opinion with him will help your relationship with him or his new wife.
If your son shares your Biblical allegiance, then perhaps inviting him to take the time to visit with a member of your clergy and sort out the dilemma you see could be valuable; even adult children are more likely to listen to someone other than their parents when their wants conflict with those of their parents.
If he doesn’t share your convictions, then asking him to conform his choices to your convictions before his heart has a common foundation is rather pointless as to both your Biblical concern and his life approach.
Ultimately, though, it sounds like this comes down to a matter of “when” you are prepared to accept the reality of his choices not “if” you ever will. You say you won’t accept them before or at your son’s wedding day. But after that day you will? I wonder if you might consider whether his wedding day is the hill you want your relationship with your son and his new wife to die on? If you can acquiesce and accept them the day after, why not just accept his choice for his life before that – why would you boycott his wedding if after it you are prepared to support the marriage?
At this stage of your relationship with your son, the most important thing you can do is to preserve your connection to him and your family. Your relationship with him is bigger than your opinion about his choices.
I’m glad to hear you can support him in his new marriage. He will need that support, as second marriages are often more difficult than first marriages. Blending families requires lots of patience and understanding from everyone involved.
Your son made a choice to marry his first wife and then made the choice to end that marriage. He’s making another choice to marry and will likely make other choices you disagree with.
It’s difficult to watch our children make choices different from our own beliefs. However, if you raised him to think for himself and make his own decisions, these are the fruits of your labor.
Get to know your new daughter-in-law. Find out why she’s so important to your son. She’s a real person with real feelings, fears, joys, and hopes. She can most likely use your support and love now. What you do now will set the stage for your relationships going forward. Making a stand against the wedding will only make it difficult to be connected to your son and his new family after that day.
Do everything you can to be a friend of this new marriage and help them succeed. Offer to watch their children (if they have any) so they can work on building their union and you have opportunity to become a meaningful part of their new family, kids and all.
There is nothing wrong with you having strong feelings and beliefs about marriage. I imagine you’re working hard to keep your marital commitment to your husband, which is a wonderful thing. Your tolerance for your son’s choices will show him how much you love and care about him as an individual. It will also position you to be there for him if a day comes that he is in conflict, crisis or need.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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