Red Responds: His Problems Start With Stress

Dear Red,

My birthday is Dec. 9, 1960 my son’s birthday is June 26, 1988 and my husband is June 13, 1960. We are really having a difficult time in our family. Our son Jay and his dad have never been what you’d call close. Jay is graduating high school soon and his dad is having a hard time with it. He is hateful and we had to leave the other night because the two of them were fussing. His dad drinks a lot and that’s when he gets courage up to talk to Jay. We have been married for almost 25 years now. I just don’t know if we can live with him anymore. Please help us. Do you see any way possible for us to get over him treating us the way he does? He’s a good man most of the time but he cannot handle stress and that’s when the problems start. My son wants to leave for good and I’m thinking very seriously of doing just that. If we do leave will he leave us alone to live our lives or will he always cause us trouble? Please, please give me advise on what I should do. I feel so lost

– Tammy in Erwin

Dear Tammy,

While reading your words, I must say that what is screaming at me is your pain. You are truly stuck in the middle, and these two men that you dearly love are tearing you to pieces. I know you really want a stable and loving family environment. So much that you are losing yourself in trying to create it.

The truth is, there is a whole lot of love between the three of you. Love does bind people together, but it can also cloud vision and judgment.

Looking at your family as a whole, each of you is playing a particular role, as you have been for years. All of you can continue on like this indefinitely. You are the peacekeeper, the glue that holds everything together, and the one who is suffering the most. Your husband is the controlling force, and not always in a kind and gentle fashion. Your son is a pretty good kid, the apple of your eye, and a point of frustration to his father that you don’t quite understand.

I see that a huge part of you wants to leave, but I don’t see you following through with it. That is your choice and completely within power to change. Your son, however, will. It is the natural order of things. He is becoming his own man, and has plans and dreams of his own that he will pursue. Brace yourself, Tammy. Your husband is not the only one having problems dealing with it. You still look at your son as your baby boy, and, in doing so, you are a wee bit too over-protective and lenient when it comes to him. You are not losing him, but you do need to allow him to stand on his own.

Your husband has never been the overly affectionate type, but he loves both of you dearly. He is very frustrated because he believes he is doing what he is supposed to be doing in the roles of husband and father. From where he sits, nothing is ever good enough for the two of you, a conclusion he draws from how he believes he is being treated. This adds to his stress, manifests as anger, and escapes into alcohol. The man doesn’t know what to do, or how to be better. He feels very alone, as it seems to him that you and your son “gang up” on him.

I know you still love your husband, even though at times he makes it hard. But I also see that you fear upsetting him to the point where you cower into submission more often than holding your ground. You don’t have to tolerate his abuse. He is a hard man to get through to, yes, but not impossible. He really doesn’t want to lose you, which gives you more control than you realize.

The problems you face are significant, but not hopeless. When was the last time you actually talked to your husband? Really talked to him rather than talking at him? Believe it or not, you are this man’s point of strength and the stability of his world. This is your place of power.

You need to set aside some time to lay it all on the table with your husband. Calmly, honestly, and compassionately. Do it in writing if you have to. Do it in a public place if you fear the reaction. While I wish I saw the two of you in counseling, I don’t. However, I do see the two of you coming back to a place of tentative unity that can change the course you are currently taking. It’s not going to be easy. You will need to express your needs, which will require a couple of ultimatums including timeframes. Be sure to include the positive aspects of you life with him as well as the negative. You also need to listen to him. Try not to get defensive or fall into repeat arguments. Some of his words will hurt. If you don’t understand, ask him to explain. He will step up to the challenge, but both of you will have to work hard at making changes and to keep from falling into old habits. Eventually, even his drinking problem will cease to be so much of a problem, though he will still occasionally drink.

Jay and his dad will always have their go-rounds, it is the nature of their relationship. With time and separation, even this will improve. Their relationship is between the two of them, and a separate issue from your marriage.

I hope this helps you to see things as they are a little more clearly. I wish the best for all of you.

Brightest Blessings,

Ext. 9224

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