Daughter’s open marriage reveal gives parent pause

Published 8:08 am Thursday, March 7, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: My daughter and her husband have been together for 10 years, married for three of them. They have a 1-year-old daughter. I have just learned they may be getting a divorce. My son-in-law is very controlling as well as verbally and emotionally abusive. He yells, swears and slams doors over the littlest things. It has been going on for the past couple of years.

My daughter deserves to be happy, and she doesn’t want to raise my granddaughter in that environment. However, she just confided to me that they have been in an open marriage for the last three months. Both have other people in their lives. 

I’m having a hard time processing this. I come from the generation where that kind of thing is morally wrong, and I’m heartbroken about the whole thing. I love my daughter and want to support her, but if I don’t, I risk losing her and my granddaughter forever. How can I cope? – COMPLETELY THROWN IN OHIO

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DEAR THROWN: Your daughter and son-in-law’s open marriage will soon be over. (Hallelujah!) While you may not approve of your daughter’s sexual activity, she’s an adult and has a right to live her life as she sees fit. (She may have been pressured into trying it.) 

The Bible says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I strongly recommend you try to remember and follow that dictate if you want to continue to have a relationship with your daughter and grandchild. She may need all of the emotional support she can get.


DEAR ABBY: I have four sisters. I have felt like the “odd one out” my entire life, and they know it. They gossip about me and my children at every opportunity. They are all financially well off. I am not. They take trips and get together frequently, but don’t include me because they think I can’t afford it. When I have made my feelings known, they say I’m “too sensitive” and a “drama queen.” 

I told them they don’t have the right to look down on me and judge. How can I get them to stop being so superior and accept me and my children? I have been a widow for five years after a long and abusive marriage. They accuse me of exaggerating the mental and emotional abuse I experienced. How can I make them understand? – EXCLUDED SIS IN NEBRASKA


DEAR SIS: You wrote that you have felt like the odd one out your entire life, and your sisters know it. You also stated that they travel together without including you because they think you can’t afford it. If that’s true, do you think they should have paid your fare? If you do, it’s presumptuous. 

After a long and abusive marriage you must feel like you have been let out of jail. For your sisters to dismiss what you experienced as exaggeration is insensitive and cruel. Because you aren’t going to change them, eliminate them from your life. They may be unwilling or unable to give you the inclusion and acceptance you seek from them.


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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


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