DEAR AMY: My 44-year-old daughter, who has been married for nearly 22 years to a wonderful man (my opinion), has just announced that they plan to divorce. They have two great children: One is starting college this fall, and one will start college next fall. My daughter says she is not happy, and this comes as a total shock to my wife and me. We have been married for 52 years. We have lived through just about every up and down you can imagine.
My daughter says she loves her husband but is no longer in love with him. She said he loves her but is no longer in love with her. They plan on dividing everything equally and say it will be a friendly parting. They plan on living in the house together until it is sold. When I tried to talk with her about counseling, she said, "No, it won't work." I am at my wits' end. Is this how people today stick through thick and thin, or am I nuts? Any suggestions? Or do I just sit back and let them ruin an "Ozzie and Harriet" family. My wife said to leave them alone because it's too late, and that I should get over it.
-- Disappointed Dad
DEAR DAD: Interesting that you mention "Ozzie and Harriet." This idyllic 1950s and '60s sitcom (and real life) Nelson family turns out not to have been perfect after all. The clan has been marked by dysfunction, addiction, loss and tragedy.
But, yes, to your larger point, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson did stay married.
Surely you know from your own experience that no one really knows what goes on inside a marriage. There might be things that have happened between your daughter and son-in-law that they simply can't recover from.
They might be fooling themselves if they think they can have a friendly, "conscious uncoupling" that doesn't affect them or their children negatively. But you are likely wrong when you describe this as "ruining" their family.
Understand that this private choice is not a reflection on you or your marriage, but on theirs.