My wife of 18 years and I have been separated for five years, but live in the same home with our child, 11.
I work from home, so manage most of the child rearing. We tried several counselling sessions, and then she declared she’d begun dating and I must deal with it while she completes another degree (18 months).
I’ve insisted this isn’t acceptable and we proceed with separating. She’s refused, saying we can't afford it; she’s too busy with work, commuting, and her graduate program and being a mom (and dating).
She refuses mediation. She also threatens to financially devastate us unless I support her plan.
I’ve divided our finances and am soon seeing a lawyer. I’m worried about the cost, and being able to live in the same home afterwards.
It’s a mess which, unfortunately, only the judicial system – OR enormous tolerance on your part - can unravel, given her stubborn self-righteousness.
An 11-year-old is a highly aware, and sensitive being. Discord, tension, and power struggles will affect him.
Focus on re-creating a workable, stable environment for him. IF you can bear 18 months of this difficult divide, that’s one approach (sacrifice).
BUT, DO talk to a lawyer, and insist your child’s the priority, not the house.
(Later, two smaller dwellings nearby might be the solution).
See a mediator or a counselor yourself, to get some idea of other potential approaches, or strategies you can accept.
My dad, 55, is a pessimist - exacerbated when dumped by his spouse, developed health problems, and got demoted at work.
But he (admittedly) drinks three beers daily and smokes, despite doctors saying it’ll worsen his health.
His spouse left partly due to his drinking attitudes. He patronizes and belittles people (especially women). He’s envious of others’ successful careers, traveling, happy relationships, etc.
He’s rude and verbally abusive to his own mother. He’s insensitive about others’ weaknesses and ailments, yet now expects family sympathy.
I've tried to get him to a therapist, suggested leisure activities, and explained why friends and coworkers avoid him..... but no change.
I'm having a hard time continuing contact. He blackmails me emotionally (a week before my child’s delivery he said he was dying... untrue.) His health could improve IF he stopped drinking!
After any contact, I feel deflated and exhausted. I'm much happier otherwise. Is it morally wrong of me to leave him to his own devices?
He also earns well but refuses to save for his retirement, and spends everything. My sister and I earn much less and must save money for our kids, their education, and our own retirement.
Is it morally okay to tell him he shouldn’t count on financial help from us later?
Perplexed in Prague
He’s not retiring so fast, and is also unlikely to change. Be open about your own costs raising children, and how you hope he’ll manage on his own good earnings. It’s a practical reality, not a moral decision… until he’s in obvious need. That’s when to weigh options (e.g. mortgage his house?)
Yes, he’s difficult and depressive, with some cause, made worse by his drinking. Again, unlikely to change.
But you can change your reactions. You’d benefit from attending an Al-Anon meeting and finding a support group of others who have alcoholic parents/family.
Also, limit your contact to what you can handle. Only get involved when you feel strong and positive, and keep the visit or call short. If he’s hurtful, say you won’t accept that, and end the conversation.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who felt co-dependent on her husband despite his cheating, and porn addiction (Sept. 7):
Reader – “Your reader was asking “where she could get help for her own co-dependency”…
“Please let her know that there are wonderful books and workbooks, as well as seminars available, to help her learn how to face - head on - her unconscious codependent programming.
“Some such books (including one I’ve written as a life coach in this field) contain information precisely about learning how to break the co-dependency cycles of thoughts in one’s mind.
“This woman is a product of her conditioning and programming as a child - and unfortunately her children will suffer the same fate - if she doesn't stay on course.
“You, and specialists in this field, can help heal this reader and her children by encouraging her to keep reaching for greater expansion of her self-awareness.”
Ellie – Readers: Recommend any books on co-dependency you’ve found helpful.
Tip of the day:
When a marital mess threatens your child’s emotional health, take positive action with the child as priority.