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OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Grown child wants mom to move past divorce

by Abigail Van Buren | June 18, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

Dear Abby: When my sibling and I were 6 and 10, our parents told us they were getting a divorce because Dad had an affair. Mom was incredibly hurt. Her hurt and resentment haven’t subsided. Dad has never apologized to her, but he has supported her financially ever since.

Mom has tried therapy, but the minute a therapist upsets her, she stops going. My parents both now live near my sister to help care for her twins. Mom is constantly upset with things Dad does or that he’s not friendly enough with her. She says he is nicer to strangers than to her.

I don’t want to seem insensitive, but they have now been divorced longer than they were married. It’s exhausting, and I feel like we are enabling her. I hate that what happened has defined the last two decades of her life. Is there something I can say to communicate that it’s way past time to be over this, but in a nicer way that may be helpful, and maybe won’t leave her too much room to tell me I’m victim blaming? — What’s Past Has Passed

Dear What’s Past: I’m sorry about what happened to your parents’ marriage. That your mother has been unable to move beyond the divorce and quits therapy is very sad — for her. Some people cling to their “victimhood” for comfort. It buffers them from having to recognize their own contribution to their failure.

Because you’ve tried without success to help your mom let go of her bitterness, I’m advising you to stop trying. When she starts complaining about your father, change the subject, end the conversation or tune out. Enabling her isn’t helping either of you.

Dear Abby: My husband and I have a business together. He handles sales, and I keep the books. I’ve raised his children, scheduled appointments and taken care of everyone’s needs, including pets. I also do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, etc.

I tend to suffer from depression and need eight hours of sleep at night, so I work at the office only four to five hours a day. My husband can’t understand why I don’t work eight to 10 hours. I get done what needs to be done. — Working Enough In California

Dear Working Enough:

From your description of your activities, you are not only living up to normal expectations, but exceeding them. Tell your husband that people are individuals, and humans don’t all function alike. If he can’t understand that, have your doctor explain it to him.

What would it cost him to hire someone to do all the jobs you are doing? He should consider that before criticizing and flogging you to do more. Tell him you’ll spend an extra hour at the office if he’ll take up some slack at home.

P.S. I understand why you “tend to suffer from depression.” You are married to a slave driver.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother,Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at P.O. Box 69440,Los Angeles,CA 90069 or visit


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