Q: I am a mother in despair of what may happen to my son.
His partner is aloof, arrogant, controlling and malicious. He tells me he’s “scared and lost”, and she’s already threatened to keep his son from him.
I am shocked my caring son has settled for someone of this nature. I’ve tried to smooth things over but all I get is hostility from her and her horrid family.
Anne says: There’s very little you can or, indeed, should do.
You have clearly come to hate his wife (and her family), and while that may or may not be justified, it’s not your life, it’s his.
Your job can only be to warn him while not alienating him. Stop striving to play Happy Families with her and her relatives, it’s never going to work.
Distance yourself from his marriage, but not from him. See him for lunches, keep in touch with messages and see him when she’s visiting her own mum.
In effect, stop competing with her. That way you will retain something of a relationship with your son.
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Remind him he has a right to be happy in his marriage, and not to become a doormat for fear of losing his child.
If he is truly “bloody scared and lost”, make him get some counselling – on his own or with his wife.
Relate will see individuals or couples.
This could either save his marriage, or at least give him the courage to make a brave choice for himself. He’ll hear from an unbiased voice that he will never lose his child – his rights as a father will always be bound in family law.
It may not be what you’d have wished for him, but thousands of people face times when you have to make the most of a rotten deal.
Re-affirm your love, offer support, the odd word of wisdom (I’d entreat him not to have another child with her), perhaps a tinge of nagging (if only about counselling).
But beware – do any more, and you’ll end up being cast as the the worst sort of witch – the manipulative mother and mother-in-law from hell.
You cannot meddle in his marriage, you can only protect your relationship with him.
That should be your focus.