Will it ever stop?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by AmIAFool, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. AmIAFool

    AmIAFool New Member

    I keep telling myself my husband is a wonderful man and has a heart of gold that his children take advantage of. But lately I have started to view him in another light and am beginning to think he is as damaged as his adult children are.

    Let me explain. I have been with my husband for 7 years now, married for the last 3 years. He has 4 sons, all of them who, in varying degrees make excuses, lie, steal and expect their father to bail them out of each and every problem their poor behavior lands them in, financial and otherwise. Which he always does. He rescues each and every one of them whether it be jumping out of bed at 3 AM to bail them out of jail or handing out money to them like candy when they fail to take care of their responsibilities like paying their electric bill. As a result, our home has been a house of horrors and our finances have been in shambles since the day I moved in.

    The boys are children from 2 different marriages. The mother from the first marriage is still living but is and extremely "hands off" mother who is barely a part of the 2 boys life. The other 2 boys are from the 2nd marriage and their mother passed away about 5 years ago, after divorcing the father when she was diagnosed with cancer, which she subsequently passed away from.

    Son #1 is now 40 years old, has 3 children of his own and 2 of his current girlfriends living with him which he is supporting because their fathers are both meth addicts. This son has never held a job for very long, and until the past couple of years was pretty much drunk most the the time, and has been on welfare since I've known him. He has sobered up somewhat, his father got him a job which he has actually stuck with for almost a year. His girlfriend works less than 20 hours a week, when she actually has a job. However, he is always behind on his bills and in imminent danger of either being booted out of his home for not paying rent or having the water or electricity shut off. He and his current girlfriend however, always have alcohol and cigarettes, nice new clothes, etc. He currently owes us thousands of dollars (we were fools enough to let them live in our rental and of course they didn't pay rent for over 4 months and owes us almost $600 in back water/garbage bills when they finally moved out two days ago) as well as owing us money for other things we have paid for them like electricity, food, etc.

    Son #2 is now 38 years old, has one child of his own who he hasn't seen since the child was 4, and 2 children of his current girlfriends living with him who he is supporting because their fathers do not have jobs. The girlfriend who used to babysit for money, has not worked in over 3 years now. This son also has never held a job for more than a couple months at a time, is always drunk and always has money for beer and cigarettes, but never has enough money to pay his bills either because his alcohol is more important than his bills. This son owes us the least amount of money, but still owes us a substantial sum, none of which he has ever attempted to pay back.

    Son #3 is now 27 years old, and I could write an entire book about this son. He has 2 children from the same mother, who has been deemed by court as unfit to raise the children and who has never worked a day since I've known her. When I met this son, he was living in his father's rental house with his girlfriend and his 2 children, then aged 8 months and 5 years. They lived in the house for 7 years and never paid one single dime in rent to their father, who refused to kick them out because the grandhildren would have been homeless, because you guessed it, this son doesn't work either. He even "confessed" to me one day (although it's hard to know if it was a true confession because he is such a pathalogical liar that you can't believe word one that comes out of his mouth), that he only gets a job when someone gets on his back, then he PURPOSELY hurts himself at that job so he can stop working. The house was a total landfill, his two dogs were never let out because the son and girlfriend were too doped up on drugs to get up to open the door to let them out and neither of them seemed to be able to find the outdoor garbage can. When they finally moved out, we hauled SIX TONS of garbage out of the house. CPS has taken their children away 3 times in the past 6 years and the youngest barely even remembers ever living with his parents.

    This son, as I mentioned, is a drug addict, a pathological liar, has stolen numerous items including prescription drugs and all of my diamond rings from me and his father, talked his father into co-signing for a phone which resulted in a $750 bill that we had to pay, calls every other day with some excuse as to why he has to have money most often using the children as an excuse (we need diapers, food, clothes, the heat was shut off they are freezing, etc.) and I could go on and on with the list of things he has lied about, stolen and "conned" his father and other family members out of.

    This son is now living in his great-aunts basement with his 2 children and she is providing them with a roof over their head, food, clothing and Lord knows what else. He keeps telling his father that she is "ready to kick him out" so he needs to give her money so she won't kick them out and his father keeps giving it to him, not her.

    This son's latest job, that he had to get in order to get DSHS (Child Services) off his back, just ended because he "hurt his knee" while he was drunk and can't remember what he did to hurt it. And of course, just yesterday he needed a new battery for his car so he can look for work, which I have been afraid to ask my husband if he gave to him. I am assuming he did, because he always does.

    Son #4 is now 25 years old and has 2 children and lives with their mother, who has never worked a day since I've known her. He has consistantly held a job, although he is always behind on his bills also and although at least this son works and appears to try to be responsible, has borrowed enough money through the past 7 years that I could have bought a new car with it. He and the mother of his children both smoke pot and drink and smoke. The last straw that has me posting here was that this son, who we gave money to help purchase a house when his job moved him out of town with the understanding that it was a SHORT TERM LOAN and that we expected the money back within 30 days, has consistantly given us what I believe are flimsy excuses as to why he hasn't returned the money: I haven't had time to get to the bank, the bank messed up our checks, the bank never sent us a new set of checks, the bank is too far away and I work until after closing time, etc., etc.

    And I am about done although as I said earlier, I could write a book about Son #3 and the grief he has put us all through. None of the other children even talk to him and I am at wits end trying to convince his father to stop enabling ALL of his children, especially son #3, and to stop throwing all of our money down his son's toilets.

    Most of the posts I've read here seem to point towards getting some "tough love" and to stop enabling children like these. But how does one go about convincing a father who isn't willing to do so? I've tried talking him into going to counseling, and this is insane, but I have not been able to find ONE SINGLE counselor to call me back to set up an appointment. I'm beginning to think I must sound WAY too desperate for help that they don't even want to take me and my husband as a patients.

    I am at the point where I am so depressed I can't hardly stand it and spend most of my days cowering in bed praying the phone won't ring and that if it does, it won't be one of the kids calling with yet another "problem" and wondering what I ever did to deserve having FOUR alcoholic/drug addict children in my life.

  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    AmIAFool, welcome. I'm sorry you are going through this with your husband's sons, there are many stories of enabling here and kids who have never launched out of the home.

    Since these men are your husband's adult children, there may not be much YOU can do. He is an enabler for sure and this pattern has likely been in place a long time. If he is not willing to change or get help to learn how to change, then you may have to look at other options because these scenarios rarely, if ever, get better unless the parents stop enabling.

    You might print out the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here and share it with your husband. You might also look into al anon, narc anon, codependent's anonymous and families anonymous to seek out support in the 12 step groups.

    It's surprising that no therapist has called you back, but if your husband is willing to go, I would continue to pursue it until I found someone. If he is this steeped in this unhealthy behavior with his sons, he is going to require a lot of help to change. This is very difficult to do without professional help. It takes a commitment, it takes strength and it takes a strong willingness to change this negative and unhealthy behavior. The sad part is that if he is not willing to change, then I believe your only recourse is to consider leaving him. Adult troubled kids can wreck havoc on relationships and do a lot of damage. The fact that you are not the mother of these men really gives you little power in stopping the enabling. It really all is up the father and his willingness to stop enabling. If he isn't, I think you are likely already thinking that your relationship with this man may not survive his kids.

    I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this. You should be having a peaceful, financially secure time in your life now, where your money goes to what makes YOU and your husband happy, not given to ungrateful, manipulative dead beats who won't grow up.
  3. AmIAFool

    AmIAFool New Member

    Thank you so much for your reply, your advice and the link to the article about detactment. I see so much of myself in the articles that I am now feeling as if I am enabling my husband to be the enabler HE is, especially as evidenced in this statement: "Will most probably put off making a decision and following through on it, if you rationally recognize your relationship with a person, place or thing is unhealthy and the only recourse left is to get out of the relationship." I have been on my way out the door for years, but keep staying and staying and staying, thinking it has got to get better someday and that my husband has got to have a breaking point or a limit to how long he will let this go on.

    Although he HAS been doing better than he was, as evidenced by the latest financial fiasco(s) in which I'm sure he gave Son #3 money for his battery and the fact that he won't confront son #4 about returning the money he owes us and just keeps accepting the lame excuses, I don't foresee that this will ever truly end.

    Wow, what a messed up ordeal this marriage is turning out to be.

    I will share the article with my husband and see what happens. Thanks again for your help! :)
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    AmIAFool, in the meantime, you might find yourself a therapist, so you can find your own way in whatever direction you need/want to go. Sometimes we need a third party, someone on the outside, to be able to see the truth of where we sit. I know I have needed that. It can be easy to get stuck in these kinds of connections and not know how to get out. Find yourself some help. I truly wish you peace of mind, you deserve it! (((HUGS))))
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. I am so sorry you are going through this. RecoveringEnabler gave you really good advice. My own advice would be to assume that Dad is going to keep enabling these grown men, who are well into middle age. It is his pattern for sooo many years and you can't say any magic words to stop him. What you CAN do is move ahead with your own life, in spite of your husband's enabling and his grown sons who are dysfunctional. You can start to detach emotionally from all of them rather than get caught up in their drama. There is only one person in the world that you can control and it is YOU. You can take steps to get help so that you can move on, even if you stay married. You can both be married to him and have your own interests and friends and activities. If you get help for yourself through Narc-Anon or NAMI or a private therapist, if you at any time decide to totally bail out of the situation you will have ready made support. Life is short and our golden years are precious. It's time to take care of yourself first. You are not responsible for these freeloaders and drug addicts and you can't stop your husband from feeling that he has to STILL take care of them. BUT you can make sure YOU have fun, relax and enjoy the freest and most interesting time of your life without risking the health hazards of chronic stress. If you leave him, you do. It is your decision and with all the chaos surrounding your husband it is a reasonable decision.

    Hope you give pampering yourself a good try. You're worth it :)
  6. AmIAFool

    AmIAFool New Member

    Well now, there's another funny part to this story. I went to my counselor just a few weeks ago and she tells me, "I think you are doing a great job of coping with all this on your side and I don't believe I would be of any help to you in coping any better than you already are. I do, however, believe you and your husband would both benefit from couple counseling to learn how to cope with this better together." Then she referred me to a marriage counselor, who, after 5 phones still has not returned my phone calls.

    I was stunned. Perhaps I didn't articulate well enough what my situation is, but I don't believe "learning to cope with it better together" is an answer. in my opinion it needs to STOP altogether and I'm stunned that a licensed psychologist would even suggest that the answer would lie in "learning how to cope with it better." So maybe it's time to find me a new counselor.
  7. AmIAFool

    AmIAFool New Member

    Thank you for your words of wisdom Mom. :) I have tried to disengage over the past couple years, even with the grand children and advising my husband that I no longer have any desire to associate with or hear anything about any of his children, their girlfriends or any of his grand children because it causes way too much stress in my life. But the phone calls and the issues just never stop and every new day is a new issue to be dealt with and I consider it a minor miracle if one single day goes by without a phone call from one of "them".

    This year I have even gone so far as to cancel our usual Christmas Day get together with his children at our home telling him I do not have the energy to deal with his kids, decorate, shop/wrap etc and that I do not want them in our house since last Christmas when we had them over, not only were some prescription drugs stolen, but also some of my diamond rings. While he said he is fine with that (course he can't MAKE me set up the tree etc.), it doesn't solve the long term issues because just the other day the "offending" son came over to "visit" and even though his father has agreed numerous times not to do so, he left his son alone in the house.

    All of this has given me chronic diarrhea for the past two years which my doctor has diagnosed as being caused from stress. I am taking my second round of steroids to stop the diarrhea, and while my husband is sympathetic, or so it seems, to my condition, he still hands out money like candy and refuses to ask any of the children to return any of the stolen items (because we aren't positive who stole then) or money the sons have "borrowed" or stolen or to even keep his word on not leaving his son in the house alone.

    I am, in fact, sitting here right now after asking him 3 times tonight to please call his son about the loan for the purchase of the house watching him watch television instead of picking up the phone. I think he's afraid to find out that the son has actually spent the money and that we will never get it back.

    So although disengaging seemed to be a good solution, it is not making anything "better." It's kind of like living with an alcoholic who will cut back or stop drinking for a while when someone confronts them about their drinking. In the same way, my husband will back off or even stop giving out so much money for a while after we discuss it, then it goes right back to the way it was.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk with you about this. Some things are becoming more clear as I articulate what is going on...like realizing as I was "talking" that he is much like an alcoholic in how he handles me confronting him.

    Thanks for the help. :)
  8. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Welcome, Am I

    I have no advice for you, but I wanted you to know I had read your post, too. We are in a similar situation to yours, but we only have two kids.

    Does your husband complain of the amount of money going out to the kids, or does he believe that repeatedly helping them is appropriate?

  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I don't believe it will ever stop.
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Codependency is very similar to any addiction, it is the addiction to enabling. You may want to read Codependent no more by Melody Beattie. You are enabling him to enable his kids and it is taking a huge toll on your health.

    *My advice for you is to seek professional help for both you and husband and if he doesn't go to get help for yourself so you can extricate yourself from this extremely unhealthy situation. I am very sorry. Change is scary and difficult for us humans, however, you deserve more then this, you deserve to have not only peace of mind, but joy and a sense of being heard and valued by your husband. Make different choices which offer different results. Sometimes we need outside help to make those choices. I wish you serenity.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think everyone has given you good advice. Sometimes it is good not to have money to give.
  12. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Is it possible for you to leave your husband for a week or two? Tell him to think it over, because if you don't hear what you need to, you are not coming back? Something needs to wake this man up to what is happening to his own life because he is afraid to stand up to his own children.

    No reason for you to miss Christmas because you don't want to play slave to his difficult child children and their offspring. Maybe, you can invite husband to take those two weeks away with you. All that money you two normally spend on Christmas would pay for a really sweet vacation to somewhere warm and sunny.

    What a much better memory that would be than the one where you work to set it up, work to keep it clean, watch everyone being dysfunctional, and clean it all up afterwords.

    Do you know how I know how that works? I've done the same thing myself, too many times. It's shocking how different everything looks once we start getting better ourselves.

  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think it was excellent advice. These are his adult children, and it is his interactions with them that seems to be bothering you - as well it should. "Coping" is not how you have a happy marriage. Putting each other first is how you have a happy marriage. Your counselor is telling you that the best thing that you can do in this situation is to create new boundaries within your marriage. These are adults we're talking about here, so it's time for your husband to let them be adults. Sometimes he is going to slip, but he has to start making a conscious effort to put you before them and it is going to cause some real chaos with them. If he can try, you can feel more objective when he works through and improves issues with them.

    It's not easy. It's also the only way I know of to deal with issues with adult offspring whether they're both of yours or not. There comes a time when we stop being parents to children. He has to want that as much as you.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi. I hope you don't take what I will reply as mean or cold. It isn't said to hurt you or anyone, and it is simply how I see the situation.

    You married a codependent enabler. His is just as sick as his sons, but helping them is his drug. This will NOT change until your husband hits bottom and gets some help. It isn't being 'too nice', it is keeping his children dependent on him and disabling them from being able to be independent and capable of handling their own lives.

    If you can continue to live this way, go ahead. Accept that this is what the situation will be, and do what you must to find peace with the situation. If you cannot continue to live this way, separate your finances from his, and either leave him or stay but handle your life as separate from him except on things that you choose to do with him.

    Go to some 12 step meetings. Codependent meetings would be great, but alanon and/or narcanon will be helpful is there are no codep meetings in your area. there are not in mine, but alanon accepts those with other issues. In fact, you do qualify for alanon/narcanon because of your stepkids addictions. These groups will help you learn how to deal with the situation, with your feelings, with your spouse and his kids. Make no mistake, you found this relationship and stayed for 7 years because you are used to codependent behavior on some level. It was in your childhood, your parents' childhood, or somewhere else in your life because you learn this behavior and seek it out in your mate. it is just how codependence and sub abuse works. I know, because been there done that myself.

    Fixing this starts with getting help for yourself, not for him or for the two of you. You may have to keep calling therapists and leaving messages until one gets back to you. Persistence will be very important to changing this for your life. Most psychologists do not have business degrees and don't always run their practices in businesslike ways. At least that is my experience.

    I seriously doubt that your husband is going to make substantial changes anytime soon. it may take years or even decades for him to see a reason to change. You have to decide what you can live with and what you cannot. then you have to figure out what and how to make the changes you need. You cannot change your husband or his kids. You cannot make them have purple skin, plaid hair, orange eyes, or not abuse substances. Your husband helps them and enables them because it makes him feel good, it gives him some payoff emotionally. He will have to change this. You can only change you. The changes you make may require you to leave him, or have separate addresses, or have separate finances, or not be together at all. He won't change, but you CAN. You are NOT required to live this way. You need to accept that his kids will not EVER pay him back a single penny, not EVER. That money is gone. You can choose not to spend anymore money on his kids, but don't think of anything that they are given as a loan. it is a gift, period. To stop this you must separate finances and not give any of your money to his children or to him when he has given them so much he cannot meet his obligations.

    I am sorry I cannot say that you can get him to stop enabling them if you do x, y, z and 1,2, 3. I really wish I could. You simply are not that powerful because NO ONE is that powerful. You can only change you and what you accept and tolerate. 12 step meetings can truly help. They are free, they are in every community, and there are usually several each week if not several each day. When our town had 40,000 people we had 11 alanon meetings each week and at least 8 narcanon meetings a week also. that is just for families of the sub abusers. Addicts had easily double or triple that number of meetings per week. Plus we have NAMI groups for those with mood disorders and their families.

    So almost every town has quite a few options for meetings, and you can get help there for free. Please don't attend one meeting and decide it isn't for you. You don't have to say a word, not even your name if you don't want to. Go to meetings at different times and locations because every group has a different dynamic and feel, so while one may be an awful fit, another might be just right.
  15. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Very generally speaking, I would consider some marital counseling for yourself and spouse...more on this later. I would avoid helping the oldest three adult "children" at all, with the possible exception of small gifts for any children for their birthdays and a holiday gift. One gift each, once or twice a year...children only.
    The youngest adult child has held down a job. So, I would consider offering him the gift of counseling if you can afford it. Pay for him to get some treatment for a limited period of time....perhaps six months and stick to that limit. If, and only if, he is willing to work with you, I would consider helping out with any medical bills or training for his girlfriend/wife to get job training.
    It is unlikely that he or his wife wants to change and grow....but if they by some miracle wish to change, I would offer some help on a limited basis for a limited period of time...like six months. But, first and foremost, I would work to strengthen and build your marriage. Many stresses and concerns here. If you get marriage counseling, you likely can sort through these stresses and strains together. Read whatever you can get your hands on re: enabling and detachment.

    ETA. Just read a few more posts. I'm glad you are seeing a counselor and she suggested marriage therapy. If the one she suggested has not returned your calls...find another. Be sure to get a recommendation from a doctor or at least a friend. Families anonymous is a good group mtg, experience as well. Good luck!
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  16. ShawnFP

    ShawnFP New Member

    I am new to this site but so glad I stumbled upon it. Are there any treatment options for this problem? We have forced our adult child to go to rehab but it is a place primarily for substance abuse which is not and never has been my difficult child,s issue. We are hoping the same strategies will apply and that they will get to the root of the hurt. I have no answers for anyone just floundering myself.

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  17. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Shawn, welcome. You've posted onto an old thread. It would help you to start your own thread, you will get more responses.

    It may be of some help to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post. I think when you ask if there are treatment options, you are referring to the help your child requires if he is not a substance abuser, but has failed to launch and thrive as a result of his behavioral issues? Like many of our kids here he may have a conduct disorder. In which case, if he is an adult, over 18, he has to make the choice to go for help, to seek counseling, to try medication, in essence to help himself. Once they are adults, our power over them is severely limited and we need to back away and detach.

    It may help you to post your story here so we can understand and offer you support. It may help to read books like Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud and Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie and anything by Pema Chodrin who helps to teach us about living in uncertainty.

    If you son has a mental disorder, you might contact NAMI, the National Alliance on mental illness, they have excellent courses for parents. You might try therapy for you which helps us to learn how to detach and accept what is.

    This is a very difficult terrain we parents live on............I hope you are taking care of yourself, getting support and being kind to yourself. Keep posting, it helps. Wishing you peace of mind.
  18. ShawnFP

    ShawnFP New Member

    Thank you... I feel a little dumb but how do I start my own thread?

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  19. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Hi Shawn, if you go to the main page of the Parents Emeritus forum, where all of the page titles are listed, you will see a Post New Thread bar on the upper right hand side of the screen.

    Click there and begin. Hope that helps!
  20. stepparentincrisis

    stepparentincrisis New Member

    As a new member and as a stepparent, I am so sorry for you. Ours is such a challenging position as we view things from a different perspective as the biological parent. Anyway, I wanted to tell you I hear you, I agree with you and I hope you can discover what will give you peace.