QUESTION: On my mother’s 60th birthday, I gave her a beautiful (very expensive) vintage opal ring and she has worn it every day for the last 20 years. She wasn’t wearing the ring the last time I saw her, which was unusual. I asked her where it was, and she said my sister asked her if she could have the ring “when she closed her eyes for the last time.” Mom told her she’d rather give it to her now, so she could see her enjoy it. Although it was unspoken, I expected to get the ring when my mother passed away.
This may seem trivial, but I can’t seem to get over the feeling that I’ve been disrespected. I haven’t said anything to either my sister or my Mom, but I’m angry and I don’t want to be angry. Is there a rational way to explain this away?
~ Seething Daughter
Dear Seething Daughter,
From what you have related, it is understandable that you would be struggling with what has happened. You acknowledge your anger, but do not want to be angry. You ask is there a rational way to explain this away? I would encourage you to pause for a few moments and ask yourself, is explaining this away what really needs to happen? I believe the most important aspect to be addressed here is relational; first you and your mom.
It sounds like you and your mom have had a loving relationship over the years. For her milestone birthday, you lovingly gave her the beautiful opal ring. Then you had the blessing of seeing her enjoy it for so many years. Were there numbers of times she expressed how much she loved your gift to her?
Your relationship with your sister also: Have the two of you had a good open, loving relationship over the years? Have you felt loved and valued equally by your mom? Has competitiveness ever been an issue?
Here’s the most vital question to ask yourself: Are my relationships with my mom and my sister more important to me than the ring?
Let’s now address your anger. With what has happened, your anger is understandable. But you say you do not want to be angry. That’s a good thing. Be encouraged … you are not stuck there. In our relationship with God, He lovingly forgives us of our sins and failures. Then in Ephesians 4:32, we are encouraged to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving of each other … just as God has forgiven us. I would encourage you, with thankfulness in your heart for God’s forgiveness, to choose to forgive your mom and your sister for what has happened. You are then in a place to have restored relationships with both of them. Ask God to graciously guide you in your conversations with them or whether you are to address this issue at all.
As I have written this, I have prayed that God would shower His love and grace down on you in these coming days and bring resolution and healing to you, and your family.
Pastor Tim Beck
Dear Seething Daughter,
You have a right to be angry that your mother gave the ring away to your sister. I would have been angry too. I also understand you not wanting to be angry since anger is such a powerful, negative feeling. That being said, you do have some choices here. You can say nothing and continue to seethe, knowing that the angry feelings could get worse, or you could say something, knowing you might not like what you hear as a response.
You say your mom is in her 80s, but you didn’t say anything about her mental condition. At this age she might have some dementia going on. In that case maybe she didn’t remember that you gave her the ring 20 years ago. Also, does your sister know or remember who gave mom the ring? Don Miguel Ruiz in his very important book “The Four Agreements” stated in the third agreement, “Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
I thoroughly recommend this book of wisdom. It has been my guide for peace and happiness for years.
Carolyn Young, LCSW
QUESTION: This is the second marriage for both my husband and me. Our challenge is his first wife who has gone to the ends of the earth (it seems) to cause my husband problems. Together they have a daughter and a son who both are now in college. Since the first wife could no longer keep taking my husband back to court for more child support after the kids became of age, she is now engaging mutual friends in gossip that isn’t true. For example, she told our pastor that my husband is not only taking street drugs, he is selling them. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
We had no idea any of this was going on until our pastor told us. Thank God he didn’t believe her! We keep hearing stories from other friends as well. The clincher was when the son returned from college and repeated things he had heard. Even though, as far as we know, most of our family and friends do not believe these lies, my husband is very depressed.
Our marriage is great except for this situation that doesn’t seem to go away. What can I say to my husband that will help him detach from the ex-wife’s crazy-making?
~ Loving Wife
Dear Loving Wife
I appreciate your desire to know more about how to support your husband. The circumstances you describe are all too common. I wonder sometimes about why people choose to live with the depth of pain, unforgiveness and retribution that drives them to character assassination. One thing I am sure of is that in a person’s mind whatever you feed grows and whatever you starve dies. What I believe would be helpful for you and your husband is for you to continue to speak the truth of his great character to him and to those around him. Focus on the truthful good and refuse to acknowledge the untruthful bad. People often find great refuge in truthful loving words.
As a man of faith I have experienced the comforting words of my loving God when others speak against me. I even know the depth of comfort I experience when my wife does so, as well. Do not underestimate what you are already doing for your husband simply through your existing caring, compassion and love! Bless you.
Pastor Mark Yeager
Dear Loving Wife,
Often one of the biggest challenges of a second marriage is the residue of the ex-spouses animosity. Unfortunately there are people such as your husband’s ex-wife who derive some type of satisfaction out of making every effort to hurt others. How sad that she spends so much time and energy calculating and creating elaborate lies in her attempt to harm your husband’s reputation, in turn impacting your marriage. You and your husband cannot get into her head and understand her motives and intentions. Spending time and energy trying to unravel and address the lies that she has spun and spread is not beneficial to the nurturing and strengthening of your marriage.
Proverbs 12:19 says: “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” Focus on your marriage and the consistency of who people know and witness you as a married couple. More importantly focus on the truth of your marriage. Nurture the love you have for one another and the commitment that you made in your marriage vows. The strength and love of your marriage will stand out and above the lies and actions of the ex-wife.
Scripture says: “And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together let no one separate” Mark 10:8-9. One day the truth of who she is will be revealed while you stand together in the love, strength and consistency of who your family and friends know you both to be.
May God richly bless your marriage in the days, weeks and years ahead. If you would like to chat with me about personally, feel free to contact me at (818) 488-4375.
Laura Neven, Lay Minister