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Teenage Problems/My daughter married in secret and it upset me

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Question
My 26-year-old daughter has told me she's just got married today... and we didn't even know until now. We knew she was engaged to her boyfriend but didn't expect the situation to be totally different.
She admitted she'd married a local 73-year-old man for his money, she'd seen his advert in the paper's dating column for a 'lady companion' and they hit it off.
She's told me that she's never telling this man she married him for his money, and this man has no children or grandchildren, he lives alone in a country house in West Yorkshire. She said he's not a father figure either. She also said 'don't tell my fiance about this, y'know, it's our secret'.
This was done behind her boyfriend's back, they have a 5-year-old son together and he knows nothing about this.
I'm concerned about this - if only for my grandchild's sake. I have no issues with my grandson's father, he's a decent, hardworking man, but my daughter's moral compass is a bit worrying, this is so out of character for her.
My husband's furious - he feels like he missed out on walking her down the aisle, how will she explain to her b/f that she's now a married woman etc.?

What can we as a family do about this situation? Obviously my daughter's an adult and can make her own mind up, but a child's welfare is at stake here.

Answer
Hi there Gillian,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I hope that I can help.

Firstly, let me apologize for not getting back to you sooner; my off-line job has been a bit crazy since we came back from Christmas and I have been meaning to get back to you since the day you first submitted your problem but it has not been possible. I apologize and will promise that if you submit anymore questions then I will look to make these a priority and get back to you sooner. Now on to your question...

I can completely understand why you and your husband are angry, confused and frustrated with what your daughter is doing; she has openly told you that she is in a relationship solely on the basis that she is wanting to benefit from this guy's money and it sounds like that she is hoping that, given his age, he may not be around that long in the future until she gets her money. She is, however, being incredibly selfish and naive because not only is she hurting this guy that she has married but also, she has shown a great dis-respect to you and your family and her own son and ex-partner. Your daughter may be manipulating this guy to get his money but what she fails to realize is that, if he leads a good and positive life, there is no reason why he will die anytime soon and that your daughter could end up waiting a long time to inherit anything (and we could be talking ten or twenty years depending upon his health). Also, there is the complication that if this man has any brothers/sisters that they could contest (fight for) the inheritance if they believe that your daughter has manipulated him so she could stand to lose everything. You are right that your daughter is a grown adult and can make her own decisions but she is hurting everyone around her and she will end up with nothing if she is not careful.

Your only way of tackling this is to make her see what she has done to the family and that things will not go as straight forward as she thinks they will. Explain to her that you and her dad are incredibly disappointed in her and that you do not understand why she would manipulate someone in this way. Explain to her that there may even be criminal consequences to her marriage to this guy if it can be proven that the relationship was formed on the basis that she wants his money but he was not aware of it. As difficult as it is, there are things that you can do but it may jeopardize your relationship with your daughter because you are trying to teach her a lesson.

One of the things that you can do is tell her that either she puts an end to her marriage to this guy and walks away with nothing; and nothing will be said about it, or, tell her you have no choice but to tell this guy what is going on and to let him make up his mind about the future of it. Although it is not your relationship, nor responsibility to keep him informed, morally at least, if your daughter will not say anything then it may come down to you to have to do it. If you do speak to him (or write to him) and he still stands by your daughter, then you have given him in the information and he has made that decision, not you, so you have done your bit.

The other thing that you could do is explain to your daughter that although she may see this relationship as one of convenience, it is actually a legally binding agreement which could cause issues if her ex-partner found out about it and decided to fight for custody of her child as she may lose access.

You and your husband have bought your daughter up with all of the love in the World and you have given her all of the support that she needs to be able to make informed and positive decisions regarding her life. For whatever reason, she has chosen to take this path and has put making money above all other priorities which is a decision that she alone has to make. All you can do is advise her, discourage her and hit home the personal impact that it is having upon all involved. This poor guy that she has married may be naive about their relationship and may end up investing time and love into it when in reality, it is nothing more than a business transaction. If he finds out and is genuinely in love with your daughter then this could have implications on his health and could end disastrously, so it is important to be careful.

You do not have to be the one to get involved if you do not want to but if you keep advising her about what could happen if certain people found out and what she stands to lose, hopefully, this will act as a discouragement to continuing this relationship. The other thing to tell her is that, for as long as she continues with the marriage, that you and husband want to play no part in it and this includes hearing any more about the situation. If she understands that this is not just something that affects her but affects everyone in her life, she may find that morality to decide that she is doing the wrong thing and end it, but as you mentioned, this is something that she has to do herself.

Continue the positive relationship with her ex-boyfriend and having access to your grandson because these two are just as affected as you and your husband only they do not know what is happening. It is your choice, given what you know about him and your daughter, as to whether it falls to you and your husband to tell your grandson's dad what is going on but I would warn your daughter prior to doing anything and give her an ultimatum to tell him or you will. This way, if she refuses to tell him and you and your husband then do, you have done so because you think it is wrong the way that she is treating her ex-boyfriend and just not fair.

Your biggest weapon here is the connections that your daughter has to you, your husband and her family and by using this and the threat that it is either you or him, you may end up making her realize that she stands to lose you all and if she decides she is happy with that, then that is her mistake to realize in the future.

I understand how both you and your husband feel and your hands are tied but think about what we have discussed and hopefully, you can get your daughter back and up the aisle with someone more appropriate and for the right reasons.

Good Luck.  

Teenage Problems

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Daryl Taylor, BSc (Hons) Psychology, PGDip (pending certification)

Expertise

My expertise covers everything and anything to do with growing up, being a teenager or a young adult or being the parent of one of the pre-described. I can cover issues on identity, sexuality, love, relationships, families, drug/alcohol abuse and anything and everything in between.

Experience

I have volunteered for AllExperts.com for over ten years now, but even before that I was trying to use my experience to help others by working with Advice4teens.co.uk, Teenadviceonline.org and even Lycos and Ask Jeeves. My experience comes from being a teenager primarily but this lead me to work with young people from the age of 13. I have worked front line, face to face and over the telephone, e-mail and webchat for a government department called Connexions UK (aimed at young people aged 13-19); as well as being student counselor in New York, a Peer Mentor, a student teacher and working for my school, college and University to help raise the aspirations of young people. My life has not been easy and I have been through my fair share of issues; so there is little that I haven't been through in reality opposed to just reading it from a book or from my academic studies. I have been featured as a case study as achieving through adversity for a number of magazines and I have featured in a couple of books on both sides of the Atlantic; even though I am UK based.

Organizations
The Albert Kennedy Trust

Publications
Relationships: Cathy Senker, 2012, Raintree The Dean and Chapter Positive Nation GTEN Television Aim Higher

Education/Credentials
BSc(Hons) Psychology Post Graduate Diploma in Multidisciplinary Design Innovation Basic Counselling Skills Effective Listening Skills Mental Health First Aid

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Student achievement Adult learner's Award

Past/Present Clients
Allexperts.com Advice4teensuk.org Teenadviceonline.org lycos.co.uk askjeeves.com Connexions Direct

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