My father, whom I love dearly but can be difficult, has always had a controlling relationship with my mom. She had a large group of close friends in the town where I grew up, but once they retired they moved thousands of miles away and she feels isolated. He’s content to just spend time with her. Though she is very social, he wouldn’t be happy with her taking a trip without him. This upsets me to no end, but I also feel it’s not my place to do anything about it. The trouble is, she comes to me anytime he does or says something that frustrates her. It puts me in an uncomfortable position to listen to her vent about her difficulties with her husband, who’s my dad, and sometimes the things she tells me make me angry at him. My husband thinks it’s inappropriate for her to gripe to me about my dad, but I don’t want to cut her off when she obviously so desperately needs to talk to someone who understands. I know she does love him and doesn’t want to leave him. What can I do?
—Caught in the Middle