Spoiled Son

26 Feb

Dear LetterBalm: My wife and I are in a second marriage for both of us. We have a terrific relationship, so much better than our first marriages. I have no children, she has a son in his 30s. As long as he’s lived across the country, we’ve seen him once or twice a year. We’ve always treated him to dinners and events while he’s visiting, no problem. But he has announced that he’s moving back to our town in the Spring. I’m apprehensive because my wife has told me that when he lived close by, he used to hit her up for serious money – rent, healthcare, the latest cellphone, a new car – and she felt obligated to give him the cash, even though he’s always made good money on his own. I’m afraid she’ll fall into old patterns. I need to hold my tongue but let my wife know how destructive it would be to give in to her sponging son.

–Apprehensive

This must be the LetterBalm week for insufferable sons. First, a spoiled brat who couldn’t accept his godfather’s positive influence on his family. Now, a son who unnecessarily sponges off his mother. Ms. L.B. says you don’t have much sway in this situation because the son in question isn’t yours. But you can safeguard your own finances from his greedy fingers – quietly see a lawyer experienced in these matters. You probably have one opportunity to talk some sense into your wife. What you can do is raise the legitimate issue that your marriage may become a threesome, with Sonny Boy wielding undue power. Marriage counseling might be a prudent strategy (if she won’t go, you go alone, at least to acquire insights to keep your sanity and your marriage). Talk with your wife before her son moves to the neighborhood:

Alice, can we talk a little about Barry because I’m worried about the way he’s acted with you in the past. You told me that when Barry lived here he asked you for large sums for big purchases and for rent and health insurance. You also said this upset you, even as you gave him the money and he could well afford these things. Honey, I can’t tell you what to do because Barry isn’t my son. But I can be concerned about our marriage, which we know is the best thing ever to happen to us. I don’t want Barry to think he can be the third person in our relationship. I think that before Barry moves here, you and I should schedule sessions with a marriage counselor to sort out these issues. Does this make sense to you?

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