Dear Amy: My husband is an irritable, irritable, short-tempered person, and he takes it out on me and our 16-year-old son.
I confided in my 39-year-old stepson (my husband’s son) and let him know that I was concerned about his father’s stress and possibly some depression issues.
I explained that we were not getting along and suggested that maybe the son could give his father some rest and take him away from the stress of the family business.
The escape culminated in a trip to Vegas that included drinking, gambling and, yes, strippers.
This of course dealt a bigger blow to our marriage.
Is it appropriate to tell my stepson how hurt I am for coordinating the “bachelor trip” or have I learned a painful lesson?
Dear Şaşkın: Your intentions were good, but the real mistake you made was sharing your marital problems with your husband’s son. It’s one thing to share your concerns about his stress and possible depression, but entrusting children with deeply personal relationship issues between parents (no matter how old) is tricky business. This knowledge may divide their loyalties or, in your case, inspire a son to align with and support his father.
So, were you surprised when your son chose to take his dad on a vacation to Vegas instead of a stress-relieving yoga retreat in the woods? It was unrealistic to expect a different outcome.
Your husband is unhappy. He doesn’t treat you and your son well.
His problem has come home and you and he should seek marriage counseling immediately.
Couples counseling doesn’t always repair relationships, but it does facilitate communication and create ways to act differently. Sometimes counseling sessions can uncover difficult issues that lead couples to decide to separate.
My instinct is that your husband may be toying with the idea of leaving the marriage; He forces the issue by treating you poorly, which is a cowardly but common way to transfer unhappiness to family members.
Dear Amy: I am a stay-at-home mom with a 9-year-old daughter. He’s, he’s great. He is mostly well-behaved, and as an only child, I work hard to give him lots of experiences with other children.
We have a cool “loft” room in our house with low sloped ceilings. We’ve set it up as a play area of sorts, and we also store our luggage and extra bedding here.
Last week we invited “Sophie” over for a play date on Saturday. I set up the playroom with some craft supplies and snacks. The two girls were there most of the afternoon and looked like they were having a great time.
After taking Sophie home, I walked into the room and everything was a mess. Suitcases were opened, bedding and food were scattered everywhere. I was completely shocked. This is definitely not the way our daughter treats our home.
Now I don’t know if I should call Sophie’s mother and tell her how destructive her daughter is, or if I’ll ever accept this child into our home again.
– Angry mother
Dear Disappointment: Never, ever leave two 9-year-olds alone in a room full of temptations for several hours, because they will daydream, plot, and create their own world filled with messy bedding, snacks, and general mayhem.
A child does not play this way. Two kids do this. They brainstorm ideas, make up stories about being orphans on a camping trip, and somehow things go wrong.
My first tip is to leave snacks out of the playroom. In this way, you will occasionally poke your head in and invite them to the kitchen to take a break from their games. This will allow you to see what they are up to and admire or correct their creations.
“Sophie” may have inspired this destruction, but it may have been because your child decided to push the boundaries of good behavior (perhaps show off).
Your daughter should do the cleaning, which is part of the hosting responsibility.
Dear Amy: “Stressed” was a divorced mother who didn’t like her ex-husband coming to games and school events on “her” custody days.
I appreciated your response and would just like to add a reminder: The kids didn’t divorce, the parents did.
– Regular Reader
Dear Reader: Every divorced parent should hang this piece of wisdom on their refrigerator. Thank you!
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or write to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or on Facebook.)