Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My daughter, "Belle," and her husband, "Ben," are getting divorced. Ben's parents have always said they love Belle, and that if Belle and Ben ever split, they'd keep Belle.
Now that B and B are divorcing, his parents have called and left messages — they want to talk. They specifically want us parents to "mediate" and help "the kids" reconcile. The kids are in their late 30s!
I do not want to talk to them, and think the idea of us parents mediating is ridiculous. My husband isn't sure.
What do you think? I'm pretty sure Ben hasn't been honest with his parents about why they are divorcing, and I think it is a terrible idea for us to get involved.
Carolyn says: Well, wait. I agree getting involved is a terrible idea ... no, wretched. It's a wretched idea.
But you can talk to Ben's parents without getting involved.
If you don't want to talk to them, then, fine, but it might be useful to Belle and Ben for you to express to these parents clearly that you do not think it's your place to "mediate" or anything else.
Plus, you've apparently gotten to know them somewhat through your kids' marriage, so why not talk? Say hello, commiserate, share some humanity.
If you do talk to them, then make sure you don't accidentally touch the real-reason-they're-divorcing subject by setting your boundary early: "What goes on between any couple is something only the couple themselves really know."
Dear Carolyn: Do I stay married or do I go? I certainly want us both to stop being so sad. I feel like we've learned a lot about how we got to the place we're in, but I don't know if too much time has passed. I felt lonely for a long time and eventually found my way on my own, within the marriage. I've tried to explain it as a wound that hurt for a while and then healed. But I do love him very much. And he's a good man. So ...
Carolyn says: A general question, so only general ideas. One of them being that "too much time has passed" is not a standard that's meaningful to me. Either you have dealt successfully with the things that got you two in trouble, or you have not succeeded. Either you still love, like and appreciate each other enough after this process to build a marriage you want to be in, or you don't anymore. These are factors of what you actually have, not of how long it took you to get it.
At this point (and without more info), the question I'd be asking myself in your position is: What am I waiting for? Either there's something more that you want, something concrete, or there isn't. You can either inhabit your marriage happily as it is now, or you can't.
If there's nothing else coming, or at least nothing else you're expecting, then I suggest making the decision to live in this marriage as-is and make something happy of it. All in. You'll find out soon enough whether this is where you'd like to stay.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.