My wife and I have been happily married for most of
our 39 years together. Her youngest son, by a previous marriage was
friendly, married, and generally he left us alone. Then he divorced, his
father died, and he rediscovered his mother. Now, my wife and he sit
around and agree upon actions involving the joint interests of my wife and
me, and I am expected to go along with these decisions because, as my wife
puts it, "My baby thought of it, and I think it's a great idea."
Without passing upon the merits of his ideas, I am resentful because I
think he is manipulating his mother, he is ignoring my right to be involved
in the planning of my family affairs, and he is placing me in the position
of being a miser or mean to my wife if I object to his "great" ideas. If
I suggest to my wife that her son may not be as great as she thinks, she
becomes extremely defensive of him.
My question is: how do I get this 55 year old baby off my back without
injuring the wonderful relationship I have had over these many years with
I have been counseling couples for over
three decades. During that time period I suppose I have seen hundreds of
couples. One thing I have repeatedly learned is that there are always
two sides to every story. Couples can go to the same movie theater and
end up seeing different movies with the same title. What I am going to
say assumes that your wife would agree to the situation as you have
Apparently you are very attached to your wife. You have enjoyed her
company for approximately forty years. Now her son comes into her life
and she is enjoying a more intimate relationship with him. He has been
going through a couple of significant losses -- his divorce and his
father's death. These events have brought him back to his mother. From
your perspective, this grown man is intruding on your relationship to your
wife. You are feeling left out and perhaps even a bit jealous and
competitive with this "young buck," who comes sauntering into your life
and captures the heart and mind of your wife. And of course you are
resentful. No matter that this man is your wife's son. He is still an
interloper and he is interfering with your life. The issue is not between
you and her son. It is between you and your wife. She is the one
encouraging the relationship and sharing your marriage with him.
Perhaps you and your wife need to sit down and have a conversation. If
necessary, it should be done with a trained marriage counselor.
The conversation might begin something like this: "Honey, you know I
love you very much. And I want nothing more than to have you happy. I am
glad that you are enjoying your relationship with your son. However, I am
used to having you all to myself. I am feeling left out and perhaps even
jealous. The issues that we used to talk about are now being talked about
between the two of you. Many of these issues concern me and I feel as
though I have no say in the matters. I do not want to interfere with your
relationship with him, but I am beginning to resent what feels to me his
taking over my life as well as my wife."
Once you and your wife can come to a mutual understanding of the role
her son is to play in her life, it might be necessary for her to set some
boundaries regarding her relationship with him. There are some issues that
should be discussed between husband and wife and others that would be
appropriate for her to discuss with her son as well.
Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist,
Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing
psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years.
He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation,
couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and
assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing
Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.