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Beit Midrash Family and Society Marriage and Relationships

Our Parents' Marriage – To Mend or Not to Mend?

Regarding the disputes between your parents, the proper path to take is to avoid any involvement whatsoever. Even if it appears as if you can be of help, this is an optical illusion. Family members almost always worsen matters when they intervene.
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Question:
My parents are separated and in the process of getting a divorce, and my husband and I feel as if we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am naturally more attached to my mother, and as a result my father claims that I take her side in their conflicts. On the other hand, when I invite my father for Sabbath, my mother gets angry at me. We are in a constant dilemma regarding what we are permitted to do and what we are not. Should we speak with both of them in an attempt to make peace between them? In this manner, all of the problems would be solved.

Answer:
So long as a married couple is not separated by bill of divorce, any attempt to convince them to return to one another, by clarifying and rectifying matters, is a mitzvah. Sometimes, however, a relationship reaches a state in which any comment or attempt to retrieve domestic peace has a boomerang effect. As their children, you must certainly desire and attempt to make peace between them, yet before all else you must gage whether or not there is any chance they will listen to you. If there does not appear to be any chance of mending things, do not bring the matter up. Instead, focus on improving the situation within the framework of the existing conditions.

Regarding the disputes between your parents, the proper path to take is to avoid any involvement whatsoever. Even if it sometimes appears as if you can be of help, this is an optical illusion. Family members, in the vast majority of cases, only worsen the predicament when they intervene. Therefore, be wise and keep yourselves out of any arguments between them.

The only thing that you can do, and it would be a good idea for you to do so, is to direct your parents to counseling. If there are still any chances of mending matters, they must be directed to marital counseling. If not, the purpose of directing them to counseling is to help them settle their dispute and thus achieve a complete separation easily and quickly, in as much as this is possible, without any lingering hard feelings.

Regarding the desired conduct in the face of accusations from both sides: As a family, you must make your decisions independently. This, of course, must be done with as much consideration for your parents as possible. Do not, however, allow yourselves to reach a state in which your parents are setting your agenda, each one deciding whether or not you may visit or host the other.

You have a proper relationship with both your father and mother, each one in his or her independent circle. If your father has complaints, be wise and avoid addressing them directly. Instead, address the relationship in general. Do not tell him that it is not true that you give preference to your mother, ect., rather, tell him, "Dad, you know that we love and respect you, and we desire only the best for you. We will never stop helping you with whatever we can." You must, of course, address your mother's accusations in the same manner.

At the same time, continue to host and be hosted as best suits you, and in accordance with your own needs and good judgment, even if you end up spending more time with one parent than the other. There is no obligation to maintain a precise balance, and the circumstances call for different types of relationships with mother and father. "He who makes peace on high, He will bring peace upon us, and upon all of Israel, and say Amen."
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