12/20/98 Advice Column
Then we all ended up downstairs by the hot tub and bar and the female employee that my husband had been upstairs with went up to my husband and pulled down his trunks. I was so angry I couldn't see straight. Anyway, I wasn't real crazy about my husband going back to work with her. My husband acted as if nothing happened and that there wasn't really anything that he could do about it. He swears nothing went on but he had been drinking and sometimes does things that he wouldn't ordinarilly do. I want to believe him but I also don't want to be taken for a fool. What do you think?
So what can you do? Nothing. Ignore the whole episode. People regularly make fools of themselves at Christmas parties. And if you make a big issue of it, you'll be making a fool of yourself too. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel like they can do whatever they want at a Christmas party when they're a little drunk and it seems like the hosts have suspended all the rules.
That's where you came in. You contributed to the problem by letting the late group head for the hottub. What were they to think? Perhaps they thought you and your husband were swingers and this was your opening move. Then there's that hot water and the bubbles, and the drinks and food and foolishness -- what on earth did you think would happen? Sitting around in a hottub with flesh touching flesh however accidentally is not exactly the same as sitting around the living room fully dressed.
Next time you have a party, make sure the hottub is off limits. Turn off the heater a couple of days ahead of time. Or if necessary, empty the tub. If you don't want the party to turn wild, see that everyone stays dressed in the clothes they came in with, and confine the party to one area where you can keep an eye on everyone, including hubby.
My son is supposed to visit for Christmas but I want him nowhere near hers. Last night we went Christmas shopping and she laid down $300.00 for his presents and we stopped for fast-food on the way home. When we got home his order was wrong, he started screaming at her, and when I tried to take up for her (I did not call him any names, I did not touch him, etc. etc.) she externalized the blame of the entire outburst on ME and I had nothing to do with it whatsoever. I am a social work student with a one and a half years left for my masters degree and have tried to give her friendly, uncondemning advice on the steps she needs to take to help her with her problem but she ignores there is any problem, in complete denial. I have never told her this...but as a social worker, I am also a mandated reporter and have been tempted to report the neglect and would do so immediately if I did not love her so much. She is supposed to be a halfway intelligent person as she is an RN on a renal transplant floor at a large hospital.
I suppose I just ended our relationship today when I had thought about it all night and left her house today. I feel so foolish and lost. I love her so much that I ache without her already but cannot condone either of their behaviors one more minute in their present state. I am a heart patient who cannot tolerate abnormal levels of stress unless I want to die from another MI. Please help by telling me what I should do. Thank you for any advice you could give.
Despite being a social worker, you're probably wise not to report this situation. I doubt that being a "mandated reporter" was meant to apply to a lover. Besides, both of them would probably deny everything. You have to realize that she and her son have a symbiotic relationship. In other words, they're both getting something out of it.
She may be a mother who's unable to cut the apron strings and who depends on having her son around to know who she is. Instead of thinking of herself as an adult, a nurse, a lover, she thinks of herself as a mother to this impossible son. Her entire identity could be tied up in this boy and nothing you can do will bring her to her senses.
Unless she's willing to let him pay the price and face the consequences of his behavior, he'll continue to terrorize her. Don't become an "enabler" with her. Just because she enables him by bailing him out at 2 am doesn't mean you have to help.
Suggestions that might help her help herself: get her into a parent support group called "Tough Love." Take the door off his room so he can't smoke dope in his room without being caught. When he screams, don't get involved. Instead, leave.
Screaming back and fighting with him just brings you and her down to his level. If she's unwilling to call the cops and let the authorities deal with him, then stay away from their sick relationship. You will only make yourself sick by being around them. It's not going to stop if she's unwilling to take action. It'll just get worse.
However, you're right to be wary of a man who seems rigid about splitting expenses down the middle. That means every date becomes an accounting exercise, and couples who try that wind up in arguments all the time. You know, "My salad didn't cost as much as your steak, so why should I pay half?" Or, "You had two cocktails. You should pay extra." Or "The date I paid for was much more expensive. What are you going to do to catch up?"
Ugh! That's no way to have a relationship or a marriage. People who lack a sense of loving generosity, who can't share without keeping track of everything, make lousy mates.
So try sharing expenses in a reasonable way and see if Mr. 50-50 eases up and starts acting more like a lover than an accountant.
Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"
If you can't find your answer in the Library and you feel you MUST have an answer, you can get a personal answer from Dr. Tracy within 48 hours by availing yourself of her inexpensive private counseling.