Dear Annie: I have been married for more than 25 years to a highly respected, professional man. He has always worked hard, rarely taking time off. My efforts to get him to vacation have not been successful. Although he no longer enjoys his work, he continues these habits to support the family.
Our children are 19 and 22 and still live at home. The oldest graduated college but is extremely immature. In the past year, he has been in jail twice for intoxication and pot possession. He also lost a job due to an alcohol-related incident. He found another position, but he rarely shows up on time. He doesn't help around the house, is very messy and refuses all requests to contribute. He makes a student loan payment each month, but the rest of his small income goes toward fast food, tobacco and alcohol.
Here's the problem: I see red flags everywhere with our son but my husband refuses to deal with these matters. Instead, he keeps bailing him out. I feel strongly that our son needs a plan to become independent and accountable for his actions. My husband claims he doesn't have time to talk to him. My children have no respect for my authority because any consequences I impose are always undone by my husband, who says he's tired of me nagging him about it.
My efforts to get my husband on board have exhausted me and made me resentful. I feel cheated of a better relationship with all of them. Allowing these patterns to continue cannot be good for anyone. My husband refuses counseling. I am out of patience. Please advise. — Midwest Mom
Dear Mom: You recognize that your husband is an obstruction to helping your children develop into mature, responsible adults. He isn't willing to do the hard work necessary to change this dynamic for their sake. It's selfish, lazy parenting. You cannot change him, but you can change how you respond, not only to the children, but also to your husband's behavior. Get counseling for yourself. Ask your doctor for a referral to someone who specializes in family issues, and if possible, bring your kids with you. Rest assured, they don't want to be living like this 10 years from now.
Dear Annie: I want to warn "Need Your Help," the 66-year-old gal who has been with "Joe" since his wife died nine years ago. Joe is 75 and verbally abusive. He sounds just like my husband. Tell her to run, not walk, out of that relationship now.
She says Joe is unwilling to change. I can assure her he will only get worse as he gets older. She is still young enough to do just fine without him. It might be hard at first for her to be on her own; but believe me, it will get better. Find a women's group or join a church that is friendly and welcoming. There is help and support out there. Joe and his house are not worth ruining your life. — A Caring Friend Who Has Been There
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.