Saturday 23 March 2019

Dear Mary: Could wedding secret prove fatal?

A reader is troubled by a marriage secret
A reader is troubled by a marriage secret

Mary O’Conor

I live in a small village in rural Ireland. My friend is in her late seventies. The problem is that I have found out that her daughter who lives in America has married a woman. Her daughter is about 40. My friend is a very devout Catholic and campaigned very strongly against the same-sex marriage referendum in our locality. She was ringing a lot of people and bringing elderly people to the polls to vote against same-sex marriage.

Her health has not been too good since her husband died over two years ago. A few months ago she was taken away in an ambulance with heart problems. She appears to be in better health now but I am very fond of her so I am very worried that if she hears about this in the village the shock could kill her. I would miss our fireside chats very much.

The problem is her daughter is pretty well known even outside the village so the news could travel quickly. Should I break the news to my friend gently when we are sitting down by the fire? Or should I keep my mouth shut? I know that a few of her daughter's friends are delighted that she has been able to marry, as am I. She has married the woman she has been living with for over 10 years so it's a marriage that is probably going to last. My friend knew that her daughter was living with this woman in a one-bedroom apartment, and even that they shared the same double bed but she always thought that it was as friends and flatmates - never lovers.

I am terrified that my friend will be in the queue in a shop one day and someone will congratulate her on her daughter's marriage. My husband tells me that I am so worked up that I will be the one getting a heart attack so I thank you for providing me with the opportunity to get this off my chest.

Mary replies:  I'm glad that you have avoided the possibility of a heart attack for yourself! I find it very difficult to believe that your friend does not know her daughter is in a lesbian relationship. Mothers are always very much in tune with what is going on for their children and I'm sure she is no exception. She has also acquired a lot of knowledge in all the years she has lived. What she may be doing, which is entirely her prerogative, is not sharing her thoughts and views with anybody else, perhaps not even with her daughter. Or it may be that her daughter has already told her mother and she is keeping it to herself.

On the other hand if her daughter has chosen not to tell her mother that she has married a woman then I do not think that anybody else has the right to do it. Both mother and daughter would be aware of small town gossips and I'm sure if and when somebody does mention the marriage to your friend she will be perfectly well equipped to deal with it. Who knows she may even have quite a story to recount at the fireside.

I wish all my readers - especially those who have written to me with their problems - a very happy Christmas.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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