DEAR AMY: My husband and I blended our two families 24 years ago.
My husband’s middle son, “Bret” has always been difficult.
Last year my beautiful 40-year-old son died, suddenly and unexpectedly.
Two weeks after his death, Bret and his 4-year-old son came out and stayed with us.
Bret and my husband expected me to cook, clean, and pick up after all of them. It was awful!
If I asked Bret not to let his son run around the house with food, I got a tongue lashing. My husband thinks I’m being dramatic, so he says nothing to his son!
Now my other stepson, his wife, and their two children are due to stay with us next month to go skiing.
They have no rules for their darling children and my husband refuses to say anything to them.
I have been told to suck it up and be an adult.
I have thought of leaving while they are here to visit, BUT my beautiful home would probably be in a shambles when I return!
– Depressed and Disappointed
DEAR DEPRESSED: I’m so sorry for your loss, and for what you are going through now. Your household dynamic leaves little room for you to grieve and find comfort.
You and your husband have been married for 24 years, and yet I would not describe your family as “blended.”
Successfully blended families become their own unique organism; the boundaries between “step” relationships blur over time, and all members (to varying extents) identify as “family.” Family members also come to understand and respect in a basic sense the stepparent’s important role.
Your husband holds the key to the dysfunction and lack of respect in your household. You quite obviously believe that you have no voice.
I assume that the dynamic between you two is well-established, but I wonder if your son’s death has changed your perspective, and perhaps opened your eyes to your husband’s lack of support and respect.
If he saw you as an important and equal partner in your own home, his children would, too. If he saw, supported, and respected your needs and boundaries, his children would, too.
Now that you are aware of this dynamic, I hope you will assert your own rights.
When this next group of family members visit, if you don’t want to see them or serve them, then yes – you should leave. This would be your version of “sucking it up and being an adult.”
Before you go, you could tell your husband, quite plainly, that you’re taking a break, and that you’d appreciate it if the house was in good shape when you returned. While away I hope you will make a choice to make some big changes in your own life.
DEAR AMY: “Broke Dad” wrote that his teen daughter deliberately broke her phone in order to get an upgrade.
That spoiled, entitled brat needs to learn that is not the way the world works.
If they buy her an upgraded phone after this performance, will she wreck the family car to get a better, newer model?
DEAR DISGUSTED: I could absolutely imagine this happening. Thank you.