Dear Annie: I am absolutely at my wits' end and seriously thinking of divorcing my husband.
My husband and I have been married for 11 years. My stepdaughter is 26. She married three years ago after living with her boyfriend for a year. The problem is that she still places her dad over her husband. Her poor husband takes it because he is very meek and does whatever she wants. She definitely wears the pants in the family. She wants to be married, but she still wants to be Daddy's little girl. It goes beyond that. She still has him so high on a pedestal that it is ridiculous for a supposedly grown woman.
She is driving a definite wedge between us, and it is serious. They live about two hours away. She and her husband both have jobs. Yet she calls and cries tears that she misses her dad. They still have date nights; he has offered to go places with her if she does not want to go alone. If she calls and has a problem or something that needs to be fixed, he drops everything and runs to her. In my opinion, she chose to get married and have a husband. She needs to rely on him for things and cut the apron strings with Daddy some and be an adult. I am not begrudging visits; in fact, I encourage them. But I refuse to change our plans simply because she decides, spur of the moment, to make an appearance. He always takes her side that we should let her come and change our plans. This makes me the monster if I dare say no. I think plans should be made accordingly. We should all four do things together. We could do a dinner out, a day out, etc. My pleas fall on deaf ears.
How do you deal with a 26-year-old who thinks the world revolves around her? I don't see where she and her husband make any attempt to create their own friendships and have their own life. These are supposed to be the happy years when we can go out and do as we please, but it is far from that. I am about to give up and start taking vacations by myself. — Desperate in Montana
Dear Desperate: You can take a vacation, but these problems will be waiting for you when you get back. So before you get out the suitcase, try getting in your husband's head. He seems to have a guilt complex that makes him feel the need to bend over backward to make his daughter happy. His fuzzy-headedness on the subject means that you end up having to be the voice of reason — a voice unwelcome to his daughter and therefore unwelcome to him. (He has the overwhelming need to keep her happy, remember.) If you keep fighting the battle this way, you're destined to lose.
Instead, you need to get him on your side of the issue, whether by going to therapy together or just by putting on your own therapist cap and talking it out. Why does he feel compelled to help his daughter all the time? How does he think this will impact her and her marriage in the long run? With some clarity, he should see that this codependent behavior is unhealthy and does his daughter a disservice. She needs to learn how to rely not on her dad or even on her husband but on herself.
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