Whose Money Is It Anyway?
Dear Dr. Tracy,
My wife and I have been married for 12 years. She has
a 28 year old son from a previous marriage. (only son)
Since we've been married, she continues to give him
money, and various items. I've told her that I don't
mind helping him out in time of need, but to keep
giving him money every month is ridiculous. Just in
the past year, she's given him more that $3500. I
recently asked her (hypothetically) if I were giving
money to my daughter, how would she feel? She cried
that it's her money and if I don't like it, that's too
bad. I contended that it's our money.
I've agreed that we can help pay for his college, and
he knows this. He's told us many times that he's
going to look into taking courses. Of course it never
has become a reality.
He lives several states away. He doesn't have a place
of his own. He stays with friends, and is currently
living with friends in an apartment. We've given him
cars, furniture, Nintendo, Playstation 2, and clothes.
Everytime we see him, he's wearing old baggy clothes.
His T-shirt is so thin you can see through it. When
we ask about the things we have given him, he says
he's still has it at a friends house, or he lost it,
or it was stolen. He seems to be a victim a lot.
Anytime he needs an airplane ticket, he calls and
asks my wife to book it for him on-line. He's
visited us a few times. During his visits, he plants
himself on our couch and watches TV for the most of
the time. Unless he's going out to eat with us. He
doesn't drive, so if he wants to go anywhere, he tells
my wife, who then asks me to drive him.
I'm retired and making more than my wife. She works
at a local market. I've always told her it's our
money, and there's no sense in creating separate
I'm I out of line to put a stop to sending money to
our son? What's the rule on something like this?
Being a stepparent to a grown child isn't easy. You'd think they'd have their own life and not need parental support by the time they're grown - and pushing 30 is grown. But they keep coming back for more. Why? Because they always get it.
When your wife continues to give hand-outs to her unemployed son, she enables him to stay unemployed. As long as he doesn't have to work, he won't. He's learned that he doesn't have to do anything and your wife will rescue him when he gets into trouble.
This situation calls for tough love. Your wife has to learn to say no to him. However, you're in a tricky spot. If you're the one who says no, you become the bad guy. The only solution is to find a 3rd party - a counselor or therapist who will tell her that she must stop giving to her son and make him take care of himself.
I really don't understand why you and your wife give him things like Nintendo and Playstation 2's. Perhaps he needs clothes, but toys? That's really excessive for a 28-year-old man.
Decisions about giving financial help to children, yours or hers, should be mutual decisions, made by you and your wife. There is no way married couples should be unilaterally doling out money to kids.
The money is both of yours. You and your wife have wisely agreed to share, which means decisions about how to spend should be shared as well. You're absolutely not out of line wanting to put a stop to sending money to your son. If he wants something, you and your wife should decide together whether or not to give it to him.
It's really time to cut him off and force him to grow up. Your wife should understand that she's actually ruining her son's chances of ever being independent and living a normal life by enabling his irresponsible behavior. Surely she wants more for her son than what his life has been so far.
Viagra Alone Doesn't Make It
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I'm 60, female, and have a big problem. I hope you choose my e-mail to respond to!!!
My ex-boyfriend (age 77) and I have remained 'friends' for eleven years. He and I live 1,500 miles apart, but speak about once every week or two. I love him, but not in a sexual or romantic way - just as a good friend. During the time we were in a relationship, eleven years long, he had sexual problems and couldn't get erections beyond barely flaccid state, and refused to get help.
About four years ago, during a telephone conversation, he was expounding on the miracle drug Viagra and how it had made him into a teenager again when he masturbated. Over and over, he made reference to it, and I simply listened and commented, "Thatís good!". Anyway, he made a trip down to California after those conversations and, unbeknownst to me, made a reservation at a hotel, inviting me to join him. I was shocked and really taken aback, feeling insulted. I declined, at which time he got very sullen and angry and wouldn't speak to me for ages.
NOW, he again made plans to visit his friends here in California, and invited me to have dinner with him next week. "That would be nice!" I responded, and was looking forward to seeing him, catching up on all fronts and visiting each other. Again, it turned out that he had in his mind, and made plans accordingly, to extend the dinner into a night in a hotel with him to have sex. I e-mailed him back, telling him that I was not interested in a relationship beyond our friendship and told him that I felt he had disrespected me, again, by springing this on me, without even talking to me about it and expecting me to, as he put it, "do it one more time - just for old times sake".
He just sent me the most scathing, hateful e-mail, bringing up things that happened (my infidelities) in the past, saying "You were so indiscriminate in the past, so why would you suddenly be so choosy about sleeping with me"! and many other demeaning comments, ending with an order to "never contact me again".
I realize that he suffers from major self-esteem issues, and is very much a dreamer (noted by a psychologist we once saw). Heís made me out to be the bad guy here, and I don't think I am. I simply stated my boundaries in my e-mail, and told him that I wasn't comfortable with extending the relationship beyond friendship.
Please e-mail me back!? I need an assessment from a professional as to what you think is really going on.
Dear Old Girlfriend,
A big problem with men is that once they've had a relationship with you, they think the door may always be open, even if it isn't. So that's my assessment of what's going on with this old dude.
He finally found a way to get it up and he's dying to show it off to you. After all, when you were together, he couldn't perform. Now he wants to show off his newfound studliness. And you've closed the door. He's tried and tried to get in and you've rebuffed him.
There could be a part of him that thinks he could have really swept you off your feet if only he had been able to get it up. It should have been a hint to you when you were dating him 11 years ago (when you were a mere 49 and he was 66) that he was too old for you. His refusal to get help for the problem at that time meant that he didn't care enough to get beyond his ego.
There's no fool like an old fool and this guy proves it.
As for you, this is the second time you've refused him and he's gotten angry. This time he became abusive too. You should stop making excuses for him. Who cares about his self-esteem or that he's a dreamer. He's a jerk and you should do exactly what he asked: never contact him again.
And if he contacts you again, don't return his calls or emails. Some men just don't know how to be friends. In any case, you need someone younger. He's way too old, Viagra or not!
What Is Enough
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am a 38 year-old married mother of five children. My husband had a vasectomy ten months ago and I am still so sad. He went to get a vasectomy after our fourth child but I asked him not to and went on birth control pills, but I bled continuously on them and eventually told my husband that I had to stop taking the birth control pills because I had been to the gynecologist repeatedly trying to get things fixed. We became pregnant ten months after the birth of our fourth child.
Six years ago my seventeen month old baby brother died of accidentally electrocution. My husband and I were at the hospital when they pronounced him dead. We buried Zachary on our second sonís first birthday. My husband and my adult brothers were the pallbearers. Due to this event, I never wanted to do anything permanent because I felt like you canít predict how life will go.
Before my husbandís vasectomy, I kept trying to voice my concerns about my feelings regarding his sterilization. He asked me to stop trying to make this difficult for him just because I did not want him to do it. The night before the procedure I told him I was very worried that I would not be as sexually attracted to him because the entire idea that he was sterile just made me feel like he would be a different man. He did not believe me.
We are now having many marital problems. I do love him but whenever we are having intercourse all I can think about is the fact that he shaved his testicles, pulled his pants down to his ankles and had someone cut him open. I know he thinks I am now a horrible wife and maybe I am, but I feel like we are not the same couple that we were before. My husband thinks I need someone to tell me how shallow and awful I am for thinking this way and I am hoping you might be able to give me advice or direct me in some way.
A very wise therapist once told me that all you need in life is "enough." Now enough is different for different people, but almost everyone would say that five kids is enough. I can understand your husband's position.
He postponed having a vasectomy after the birth of your fourth child and then you got pregnant and had a fifth. It was obvious to him, as it is to me, that if he hadn't had a vasectomy you would have gotten pregnant again and again and again.
Now you are punishing him by deciding not to be turned on to him because he can't make you pregnant. If you had really wanted to use birth control, there are so many options that you didn't even explore. Since you didn't want to take responsibility for not having any more children, he did.
He's right: you are being shallow and awful for thinking your husband is less lovable because he can't make you pregnant. Men are worth more than their ability to impregnant us, just as we women are worth more than our ability to bear children.
There's no reason to think a baby of yours would replace your lost baby brother or that your husband's vasectomy shouldn't have happened because of that loss. It's time for you to get over this. You have a full plate with five children and a husband to care for. Don't destroy your marriage over this.
It's time to let your husband know that you love him for more than his fertility. If enough is not enough for you, and you actually feel you need more children, there are always children in need of loving homes.
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