My son-in-law was let go from his very cerebral position a year ago. He also had his contract terminated at his last high-level position.
He drinks excessively, is definitely depressed, and fell asleep at work almost daily. He refused to see or speak to a counselor but when he did go, he just lied skillfully.
My daughter’s tried everything she can think of. A buddy of his has tried speaking up. My husband makes playful but pointed remarks at him.
He's in his late-50s now and if he doesn't make an effort to get employment soon, we all feel he won't be able to get anything.
My daughter has been supporting them (he received no severance) but with Covid cuts to her salary she is very worried about money all the time.
He walks around in a fog all day, filling his time up with going to the grocery and beer store. What can be done when someone refuses to look for work?
Very Concerned Parent
Whatever can be done, it cannot be done by you and your husband. The reality check about where his behaviour is leading has to come from a skilled counsellor, and the process to get him to one starts with his wife.
There has to be a strong statement from her that makes it clear this situation cannot just go on. She must express her caring about him but draw a line beyond which there must be change or a consequence.
She must insist on his seeing his doctor or a licensed psychologist to diagnose his depression (which is vulnerable to alcohol) and then follow a treatment plan.
If he refuses, his wife should study their finances and point out that he’s bringing them close to serious difficulties. She should tell him the truth about her fears - e.g., having to sell their home? Or her being fed up enough to want to separate.
Next, she finds counselling for them together... not because she’s at fault, but it’s the only way she can assure that he doesn’t lie.
Meanwhile, privately, if you can help your daughter, do so, e.g., by offering to pay for the counselling since it’s an added cost.
No doubt the pandemic is adding to his negative view of his own life right now. Mental health issues are currently all-too common.
Your daughter may bolster her own resolve to finally tackle her husband’s withdrawal from work, his drinking and depression, by speaking to a counsellor online, herself, to get more information about the best approach.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman who says she was kicked out of her home/marriage for voicing virus concerns (November 21):
“The husband needs the churchwoman’s help because his father’s fragile state demands his son’s 24-7 emotional and physical support.
“He has empathy, which his wife seems to lack. He’s chosen this time that’s running out, to spend with his father.
“The wife thinks only about herself, which is why she’s been banished to her cottage. Her husband wants the divorce before the father passes, so he can prove she hasn't been living at the house and won’t automatically get half of it.
“It takes a great deal of love to care for someone so intimately, preserving his father's dignity, compassion and kindness.”
Ellie - The wife had asked to know more about the new cook, because she was concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19. That was an appropriate question for all, not self-absorption. There’s more unknown here.
My daughter was driving me crazy, insisting we have Christmas together. She thought if we open windows and wear masks, we’re OK. How do people eat with masks? She and my son have five children total attending school.
My husband and I are 75 (he supported her request). I have heart issues. My daughter’s a wonderful caring person. She insisted we return early from our last winter holiday. We haven’t spent any time together inside since the kids returned to school. We also didn’t have Thanksgiving together. I couldn’t reason with her about this.
This came too late for me to publish before Christmas, but I’m answering for all future decisions including Valentine’s Day, Family Weekend and whenever you’re importuned to open your bubble:
Don’t do it. Acknowledge the love that’s sincere but wrong-headed. The winter months ahead have a reward coming soon, as your age group comes into line for the vaccine.
Tip of the day:
When a partner’s depressed, drinking, and lying, it’s time for serious efforts towards professional help.