Step out of line

Joey Garcia

How do I get my husband to stop jumping every time his grown son wants something? My stepson is 150 pounds overweight. I don’t feel sorry for him, so he doesn’t like me. Because he doesn’t like me, my husband feels guilty for marrying me. My stepson is always starting arguments between my husband and me. A counselor said that my stepson wants his dad all to himself. He doesn’t want his dad to have friends unless they cater to his wants. How can I get my husband to let his adult son stop feeling sorry for himself and grow up? And how do I get my husband to commit?

For your marriage to thrive, you must stop competing with your stepson for your husband’s affection. Attempts to force your husband to choose between his son and you will only result in your suffering and theirs. Isn’t it possible that your husband’s heart is wide enough to love you both? Perhaps he feels “guilty for marrying” you because you treat someone he loves so poorly. Yes, I understand that you believe that your stepson treats you badly and that he should be acting differently because he is an adult. Y tu, tambien?

Why not model healthy behavior? That will invite you to see that your husband could really use a partner in this situation, rather than a righteous antagonist. Plus, when you step into the new skin of spiritual maturity it will be easier to take responsibility for your own wish to have your husband all to yourself. (Yeah, it’s obvious.) And, just as your stepson’s attempts to force you to accept him as he is have not worked, your efforts to force him or your husband to change are to no avail. Try Miracle-Gro for your spirit: apply your counselor’s synopsis of your stepson’s psyche to yourself. (You don’t want your husband to have any friends, unless they cater to your wants.) After you’ve grown a bit, you can gracefully discern whether your stepson and husband truly have a problem or whether it was simply yours to see.

Forget your advice to the man saving for a house despite a relative’s offer to help and his wife’s spending. My ex-husband wanted a house, but he charged $1,000 a month on credit while unemployed. I paid the bills and gave him pocket money. When he was employed, he spent more than his pay. If he maxed out credit cards, he got more. I saved money in separate bank accounts, but he would figure out how to get it from me. When we divorced, he tried to get alimony. I owed more than $50,000 because he opened those credit accounts jointly. Early in my marriage, a relative offered me a down payment, and I said no because I wanted to stand on my own two feet. That decision cost me in rent paid and in lost equity. He should take the money.

Thanks for the cautionary tale. If it continues to sting, it’s likely that inner work remains undone. An addiction such as your former husband’s should have been accompanied with red flags well before you were wed. If you chose to ignore signals, you may also have ignored the other ways that you contributed to the creation of this chaos. Your situation differs from the letter you are responding to and deserves different advice. For starters, if a couple is not capable of being influenced by each other toward change, they should not be life partners. In addition, if a partner has an addiction and is not working the 12-steps or attending intensive counseling, staying in the relationship is self-abuse.

Meditation of the week
“I just go places where I feel happy,” says the Buddhist writer and adventurer Gretel Ehrlich. “I don’t want to know too much about what makes me tick, because that’s illusory. Once you conclude these things it’s like hardening of the arteries.” Can you just live in the places inside yourself where you feel happy?

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