Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Marriage Would Mean Having to Live Far Away from Her Parents

Dear Aunt Dara,

I really need some advice.  I have a unique situation that I haven't been able to get answers on.  I'm a 34-year-old woman who has been dating a wonderful man for two years.  I have waited a long time to meet someone like him and we have recently talked about getting married.  Before I met him, I joined the military and when I got out, I thought about moving closer to family (they are 1000 miles away on the East coast).  I met my boyfriend in the middle of this decision.  At that time, I prayed about it and decided that this was the right guy to date seriously.  My boyfriend has a young son that he wants to be around and cannot move anywhere for 11 years, which is understandable.  He says he wouldn't mind moving but needs to be close to his son until he graduates high school.  Now, he may not move to my hometown but anywhere we go where I could drive to see family would be great.  So I am thinking if we get married, I will be here for a while.  For the most part, I don't think of home a lot, but I'm usually sad when I go to visit my family and have to leave them.  At my age, I feel as if I shouldn't get homesick.  I am not dependent on my family but we are very close.

My question is, should I stay here with him or move back?  If I were married, there would be no question where I should be, but for right now we are just dating.  I want to be with him, but I think about my parents.  I know I need to live my life, but I think about how my parents are in their 60's and 70's and would love to have me around.  They don't have much money and visit when they can, which is on average once every three to four years.  I visit two times a year, so as long as I’m saving money, I can get back to see them.  Seeing them for a week or two twice a year just doesn’t seem to be enough to cure my homesickness, and if we get married, I could be seeing them less than that.  One day I’m happy to be here with my boyfriend, and the next day I miss my family.  People I have gotten advice from tell me getting married means to leave my mother and father, and then some say to me, “How could you just leave your aging parents?”  I feel torn.  I don't know if I am struggling with this because I will be a step-mother and a wife all at the same time, or because I know I will have to be far from family, possibly for good.  It's just a lot of change.  Maybe I just need to grow up, but I'm struggling with it all.  I have prayed about it and have no idea what God wants me to do.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks. 

Homesick and in Love 

Dear Homesick, 

It’s understandable that you feel torn between wanting to live closer to your parents and yet wanting to be with your boyfriend (and possible future husband) who needs to live closer to his family.  The people who try to advise you on what you should do mean well, but they do not know what is right and best for you, so don’t let their comments make you feel guilty.  You are wise in seeking God’s will in this matter, and I pray that you receive His answer soon.  Here are some things to consider when you pray for guidance: 

Are you sure that God wants you to marry this man?  If so, when does God want you to marry him?  I think that this needs to be settled first, because the question of where to live seems to hinge on whether you marry him.  If you decide to marry, your priority should be to your husband.  There will be times when you will feel torn between wanting to be nearer to your aging parents and needing to maintain your marriage and the family that you are making with him.  Are you prepared to place your husband first, even if that could mean that you may not be able to do everything for your parents that you would like to do? 

If you decide to put your parents first rather than marrying, consider that God did not intend for the parent-child relationship to be the primary focus when children become adults.  That is why He instituted marriage and it is in our best interest to establish our own families, separate from our parents (Genesis 2: 18-25).  Also, you will likely live for decades after your parents have passed on.  It’s much easier to cope with the loss of your parents if you have a loving, supportive spouse (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12).

I don’t think there is anything unusual about your homesickness.  You love your parents and you miss them.  That is why you become sad when you visit them and then have to leave.  Those feelings will never change, no matter how old you are.  Your parents most likely feel sad when your visits are over, and they probably wish you were living closer to them.  They love you and they miss you.  However, most parents want whatever is best for their children, even if it means that they must live 500, 1000, 2000 or more miles apart.  Parents want their children to be well and happy, regardless of how far apart they are or how often they get to see them.  Your parents want you to be happy, so if you have a husband who loves you, who treats you well, and you are happy living with him, your parents will adjust to your living far away.   

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Family Members Did Not Receive Notice About Upcoming Wedding

Dear Aunt Dara,

I recently received an e-mailed invitation to "save the date" for my male cousin's second marriage ceremony.  This was followed shortly by a hard copy of the same invitation in the mail.  The concern I have is that neither of my parents received either the electronic version or mailed version of the "save the date" card (I live with my parents to help mom with her health needs).  My cousin and his fiancĂ© came to our house for Thanksgiving this year and seemed to enjoy themselves.  There doesn't seem to be any reason they would exclude my parents intentionally, except I do know that they have very different political opinions, but these are rarely discussed.  Also, I do know that relations have been strained at times between my cousin and his father and other members of his immediate family. 

I really don't know whether to:

A. Assume that my cousin and/or his fiancĂ© intended for me to share the information with my parents.  In this case I would just share the information with my parents and suggest that they prepare to attend.  But then if I'm wrong and they don't receive a wedding invitation, that could make matters worse.

B. Assume that they accidentally misplaced my parents e-mail address and/or card.  In this case, should I gently bring it to their attention somehow?

C. Assume that they intentionally did not send the card to my parents.  In this case, I'm not sure I would feel comfortable attending the wedding, depending on the reason.

I'm afraid to just wait and see if my parents receive a wedding invitation.  It is a long distance trip and we would all need to begin saving and making arrangements very soon.  I'm hoping that this is just some kind of miscommunication or misunderstanding, and being the one who received the card, I feel very uncomfortable not knowing how to handle the situation.

Confused Cousin

Dear Confused Cousin,

I can see how you would be confused because the situation is unclear.  Since there doesn't seem to be any reason they would intentionally not  invite your parents, perhaps they want a small wedding and have decided to limit their wedding guests due to the cost involved in having several guests. Or possibly your cousin did intend to invite your parents and the invitation hasn't come yet for the reasons that you suggest. The only thing that is clear, however, is that you don't know the reason your parents have not been invited yet. You should not assume anything. The best thing to do is to send your cousin a note informing him that your parents have not received an invitation yet, and ask if they plan to invite your parents to the wedding. That should help to clear the confusion.

God bless,
Aunt Dara