Jewish Journal

My Mom Married a Dope

by  Merissa Nathan Gerson

August 5, 2010 | 9:31 pm

Eek, stay out of that one. Photo courtesy of www.davidhenrygerson.com.

Help Yenta,

My amazing mother is in an awful marriage. Her husband is lazy, racist, sexist, kinda mean and none of us can stand him. Oh and he is a loud talker! She obviously loved him at some point and he is the only person she has been with besides our dad, but oh man he sucks the joy out of any family gathering. He hasn’t worked in years, she supports him with her job. They are in debt, the house is falling apart and now she is sick and my brothers and I are taking care of her, because he is caught up in his next ‘get rich quick’ scam. She seems miserable and knows she made a bad choice with this guy, but she is way too stubborn to admit it. Whenever the subject is broached she gets angry and leaves the room. When we try to talk to him he just takes it out on my mom. Please let know what the heck we are supposed to do.

Frustrated in Colorado…

Dear FIC,

There is a season and a time, so says a great book, for everything. This is not, I don’t think, the time to be attempting to rearrange your mother’s love life. One thing that is hard in life is sitting with the shit choices others make. Whether this means choosing a dumb partner, cutting your thighs with a razor blade, or consuming alcohol to numb the pain, there are times when your job is to just stay out of it.

Why? Because you might drown in your attempt to save your mother from her bozo boyfriend, and then two lives sink together. With any type of addiction or bad behavior, the addict or culprit has to want to make a change, has to want to see a shift. Until then, you are barking up a hollow tree.

This doesn’t mean we should flush the afflicted, ignore their suffering, and stop with our love. Quite the opposite. The best way to help your mother is to tend to her illness. Her lifestyle choices are hers, and chances are you can’t shift them. Even if you could, you would have a better chance convincing her to leave this man if she was able to really settle into knowing that you love her.

People want to have control over things that they can’t control. But when someone is actually physically sick, that type of health always takes precedence.

So put on your best set of emotional blinders and sideline this jerk she chose, and put all that concern and love into tending to her health. Crap husband or no crap husband, your love might keep your mother alive, and a live mom can be the best kind.

For more help:

1) Even though this book is about marriage, it’s major theme is differentiation and self-care. Read Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Passion Alive in Intimate Relationships by David Schnarch, PhD.

or, with a grain of salt to curb the cheesy content, try Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie

2) Find a local Codependants Anonymous meeting.

3) See a counselor.

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With more than 10 years of talk therapy under her belt, Merissa has waded through life’s dilemmas with a constant reflective therapeutic bird on her shoulder. Add a few...

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