I’m a male, 22.
My parents had affairs with the married neighbours and exchanged spouses. I lived with my mother, my siblings and our new stepfather. He videotaped my sister in a sexual way and sexually assaulted her. We found the tape, gave it to my mother, and she brushed it off.
My mother and stepfather get drunk daily and then fight. They separated awhile; she used the sex tape to blackmail him into giving her the money to have her own townhouse, then decided she couldn’t live without him.
I said that if she didn’t get help for her alcoholism, and if she allowed him to stay with her, I was done with her. (He doesn’t work but stays home and drinks while she earns a very good salary as a somewhat functioning drunk.)
He moved back three years ago; I haven’t spoken to her since.
My siblings and I are all on our own. I have a good job, don’t drink or smoke. I was fed up with my mother calling me and crying about her terrible life, or criticizing me for not being in contact more.
Now my stepmother’s pressuring me to let my mother back into my life, so she and I aren’t speaking because I’ve held firm that my mother get professional help.
Am I asking too much? She flat out refuses to change.
- At A Loss
Your own inner strength and desire for a better life has made you successful; but you can’t control your mother’s behaviour. She’s maintained this pattern for years.
Is she likely to change because you reject her? Staying distant is about YOU, not about her.
If limiting your exposure is what you need for a healthy life, say so. Tell your stepmother that you have a right to protect yourself from being dragged down by the turmoil.
HOWEVER, your wish that she gets help shows a level of caring you can’t deny indefinitely. In time, you’ll need to deal with this.
Start by trying to understand her addiction: Alanon meetings provide support and help you learn from others dealing with alcoholic relatives (see www.alanon.alateen.org to find a local group).
My new husband fights with me when I try to convince him to get rid of his “maxed-out” credit card though he has school debt. I also have huge school debt.
He refuses to save with me or let me handle the finances. He doesn’t like that I have access to borrowing money, while he doesn’t.
How will we ever save for a house if everything is separate?
He’s also living like a teenager - going out on week nights and pulling all night’ers on weekends.
He has no desire to have kids.
- Worried New Bride
It seems you two went to the wedding without ever having discussed what happens next.
It’s hard to put the relationship on “rewind,” but that’s part of what’s needed here. And you can’t do it alone. Otherwise, if you continue issuing orders and acting the Strong One (a.k.a. “Mother”), he’s going to continue to retreat into the Rebellious Teenager.
You need to respect each other as equals and recognize that you need marriage counselling together, in order to re-start your life as partners. It’s not just about saving for a house. It’s about having the same goal for the marriage to work.
One example: Stop exploiting your “access to borrowing” and lording it over him, and he might stop squandering his money.
Our son’s wife has alienated us by contravening our family routines.
Our other children and grandchildren have always celebrated Christmas with us (we invite the in-laws’ parents), plus Sunday dinners, etc. We insist on these gatherings for family cohesion, and we pay for everything – even holiday trips - to encourage it. But she wants “private time” with our son, holidays on their own, or rejects our invitations to her parents, so she can visit them separately. It’s splitting our family apart.
How can we get her to see that she’s ruining it for everyone?
- Hurt Parents
Take a closer look, folks – everyone else is compliant partly because of the freebies, and fear of your too-easy disapproval.
This daughter-in-law is the only one showing some independence, and also being loyal to her parents. Get to know her better… and be proud of having one free thinker among the brood.
Tip of the day:
Rising above the chaos caused by alcoholic parents takes determination, inner strength, and finding supports.