DEAR AMY: My current husband and I have been married 14 years. (he is 74, I am 60). I had a very traumatic divorce. My current husband was one of the lawyers involved in the divorce. We had a whirlwind relationship and married after nine months. My new stepdaughter, 31 years old at the time, chose to destroy our special day, and to this day, hates me. My husband and I tried to work this through; he was devastated and I let her walk all over me. Now I don’t have anything to do with her. Now, my husband has refused to attend any of my family events if my only son is attending because my son has had several DUIs. My son is a very hard worker but has a very limited income. I have helped him out with legal fees, etc. I used our joint accounts for this. Mainly my husband seems to think my son is a loser. After holding in my anger about having to shuffle holiday events so that my husband doesn’t have to be there with my “wayward” son, I totally blew up and revealed very ugly sexual activities that his daughter did. I feel terrible about this. Because he is a lawyer and can file for divorce (and has done it before without my knowledge after fights), is my love for him healthy? Should we try harder to make this work? Ninety percent of the time we are good.
DEAR WONDERING: Should you work harder on your marriage? Yes. But you two also seem to be equally poor parents: enablers, punishers and with distorted views of your adult children.
I’m shocked that your marriage is good 90 percent of the time, because given what you report, you two deal with your problems by refusing to deal with your problems and blaming your partner.
You should decide to be partners first, and then parent together. This means that you don’t sneak money from your joint account to enable your son’s drinking, and he doesn’t tolerate his adult daughter’s mistreatment of you.
Your mutual refusal to acknowledge and take responsibility for your own actions doesn’t bode well. A counselor with a specialty in family systems could help. You might also want to consult with your own lawyer.
DEAR AMY: I have been extremely unhappy since I was 8 years old and I’m 27 now. It just seems like my life keeps getting worse. I have never had more than a few friends, and have not really been in a relationship. I have been struggling since I was last in college and cannot get the jobs I go for. I feel like I’m rotting and stuck at home while people who have treated me badly get ahead. I would like to get into politics or acting, but I have no clue how to get started. I am constantly rejected by people, and it is extremely frustrating. I am too old to have these problems. I don’t know what to do. I want a career I will enjoy, but spending your life sitting around at home is definitely not good. I am missing out on so much. I don’t know how to make people want to help me career-wise and in my personal life.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: You should get a thorough mental health screening, and solid career coaching.
For someone who is sensitive to rejection, your two career choices: politics and acting, are not good fits. Both careers involve repeated rejection experiences, but if you are truly passionate about these things, then you will learn the most by diving in.
You should volunteer with a local political campaign, supporting a cause or a candidate you believe in. You should also take an improv class. Improv acting is a great way to learn to navigate around different personalities, think on your feet, master rejection and learn to always say “yes.”
Dear Amy: “Hurting” reported that her mother was acting angry and upset at her decision (at the age of 32) to move out. When I announced move-out plans to my parents, my mother replied testily, “What do you think you’re going to do there?” and then asked my father if he was going to mow the back lawn after dinner. Subject closed! Later she wrote to me, “You’ll never know how difficult it was to put you on the train...”
DEAR LYNN: Many a parent has replied testily when they wanted to respond tearfully.