updated 9 Jun 2012, 15:43
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Mon, May 07, 2012
The Star/Asia News Network
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Hard to tell parents about separation


My wife and I lead separate lives but we are still married to each other. Our only son is working abroad.

She moved out late last year to stay with a friend she says, but I think she is seeing someone.

I still stay in the apartment that we bought together, in the hope that my son will come home one day.

For some years now whenever we go back to our hometown, my wife doesn't want to visit my family.

I find it hard to explain this to my parents, who are old and traditional.

Throughout the years their relationship with her has been cordial.

My parents don't say it but I can see that they are upset when I go home alone, several times yearly.

They used to ask why my wife didn't come and see them. I would make up various excuses, like she was busy or not feeling well.

Lately, they have stopped asking me because they think that she is angry with them about something they might have said or done.

That really upsets me because our relationship has nothing to do with them.

I cannot tell them that we are as good as divorced because it will break their hearts.

They were badly affected when my sister and her husband broke up years ago. I don't want them to go through such pain again.

But I also don't want them to think they are responsible for my wife's no-show.

Should I explain, or should I continue to keep mum and hope that eventually, they will get used to not seeing her?

Caught in the middle

You are an adult who, in turn, has an adult son. Why are you still feeling like this with your parents?

It is understandable that you do not want to cause them further hurt, but really you are more than capable of being upfront and honest with them.

What is the use of living a lie for them, or making them believe in one?

Yes, you spare them the pain of knowing what is really happening in your life but is it worth the pain they are already feeling for thinking that they are the cause of your unhappiness?

Telling them the truth will at least alleviate their sense of guilt.

Imagine what you would expect from your son should something similar happen to him.

Would you not want him to share with you aspects of his life, and his hopes and fears?

If he did, would that not bring the two of you closer?

It is clear that your parents care deeply for you and your happiness.

With the older generation, issues such as separation and divorce may not be as common as it is for the younger generation.

They may fear the stigma or shame, or even that you may not have someone to "look after you".

Let them know how you are dealing with the separation, even if you are not dealing with it well.

Maybe they will have some valuable advice for you. Or, maybe they will chide you for what they think you did or did not do. It's all right.

They are entitled to know what is happening, and to their opinion. At least they'll know the truth.

You can spare them a lot of grief, and yourself the stress of having to hide this from them.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help. Write to Dear Thelma, c/o Star2, Menara Star, 15 Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya or e-mail [email protected]. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.

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