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TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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My step-sons and his live-in girlfriend of 3 years live here

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My step-son's and his live-in girlfriend of 3 years live here in a nearby town. He has been diagnosed bi-polar and she is usually nice, very attractive, works out every day, but isn't the smartest person I've ever met. Her mother died when she was 14 years old. Her dad and brothers took care of her after that.

Here's my dilemma: She often wears clothes that are too tight, dresses are very short and tight. If they are staying at our house overnight, she will come down in a thin t-shirt that pretty well shows everything. At a family get-together about a year ago, she happened to sit across from me wearing a tight, short dress. She was wearing a "g string" or something but I could see her crotch without even trying. I'm sure others noticed as well. I did nothing but feel that someone needs to have a talk with her. Like her mother - but she's not alive. Who's job is it? She apparently will be around for awhile.

My step son and his girl friend get drunk a lot when we have been with them at family functions, like my husbands birthday back in Sept. When she gets drunk she eventually will hang on my husband and say "he's just a big teddy bear". For the most part, I don't care and trust my husband. On the other hand, enough is enough. I went through my ex-husband womanizing for 20 years, and I don't appreciate being put in this position. Usually there is no one around (other than family) but if a friend of mine saw it, I would be totally embarrassed. My husband knows that I don't like it, but feels that he is put in a bad situation when she pulls it. So whose job is it to tell her to keep her hands off my husband? And what do they say?

Also my step son thinks he's "living the dream" being with her. He has told my husband in notes on "his birthday card" that he can live vicariously through him. And then he laughs. So whose job is it to tell him to back off and think about what he is saying? He hurts people by what he says sometimes.

I'm an attractive blond with a good figure and can hold my own in most conversations. I have contributed financially to our relationship and feel that I am a good catch in general. I work to keep up my appearance and dress classy. I've had men friends who've told me that they have had crushes on me in years past. (I've kept this to myself but it does make my day!) Everyone is very lucky that I've held back and kept my opinions to myself and my husband (on occasion). But I'm one of those people who is nice until I'm pushed into a corner, and then I come out fighting. I don't want to embarrass myself, but I've had enough. So whose job is it to explain to my step son to back off and mind his manners. I don't like him thinking his Dad is God, and I'm just there as a backdrop. He thanks his Dad for things, but never thanks me. He doesn't realize I put the down payment on our house (40 acres in the country now worth about $900K) because his dad didn't have the money to do it. Should I go into detail and explain the facts to him? If so, what should i say?

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

While it can be upsetting that your step son's girlfriend dresses inappropriately, telling her to dress better may cause more issues. Although your step son should be the one to talk with his girlfriend about the way she dresses, it sounds unlikely that he will do so given his feelings about the relationship. And she can dress however she wishes unfortunately. The only time you might be able to say something to her is if she is staying over your home. Then you may have a choice because it is your home. In that case, talk with your husband about what you both feel is appropriate. Then have your husband talk with his son. Let them know that while you welcome them into your home, you also ask that they follow your rules while they are there. And that includes appropriate clothing. If they do not comply, then your husband should ask them to stay elsewhere.

It sounds like your step son and his girlfriend's behavior at parties is also questionable. If she does approach your husband, then it is up to him to set boundaries. He may not feel it is needed, but he also needs to consider your feelings since you are his spouse. Talk with your husband about gently asking his son's girlfriend to back off. The key is to create a boundary but not to start a family argument. Although that might be hard to avoid, boundaries do need to be established so your step son and his girlfriend do not continue to run the show.

Regarding your step son's other behaviors, it is important that your husband set boundaries there as well. Although your step son comes across as rude and inconsiderate, he can say what he wants in his letters and cards. However, it's important that you and your husband are together in how you respond to what your step son does. This is your husband's son so it should be him that sets the rules. Otherwise, it looks like you are upset and he is not if you speak out on your own. Sit down with your husband and talk about what you both agree on in terms of responding to these behaviors. That way, you are prepared next time when they occur. If your husband refuses to address these issues, then you may need to go to counseling to resolve the problems. Your husband needs to understand that being lenient with his children only causes them to act out, as you are seeing now.

I hope this has helped you,
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