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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
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Experience:  Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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My stepson (26) has been married 3+ years to his high school

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My stepson (26) has been married 3+ years to his high school sweetheart. They have no kids, live about 180 miles away, and my daughter-in-law is the primary source of their income. Things have not been going well in their marriage for a year or so, and he has asked his mom (my wife of 21+ yrs) if he can move back in. She told him "yes," but only if it's short term (2-3 weeks) while he found some other place. He told her they were going to see a marriage counselor, but I do not know if this will really happen. I believe giving him a place to live will make it too easy for him not to try to work things out. And, being, 180 miles away, will give him excuses for not working on his marriage. Do you have any advice on how I can convey to him the importance trying to work out their problems? We do not have all the exact details, but their issues are probably due to his lack of self esteem regarding income and her having at least 2 miscarriages in the past year, to name just a couple.
Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. Does your step son have any type of work?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Yes. He has worked at a Pet Smart chain for about 2 years. He is not lazy and is not afraid of hard work (has always had jobs requiring physical labor), but he just does not want to "better" himself. This is in contrast to my daughter-in-law who earned her masters degree (chemistry undergrad, genetic counselor grad) in 5 1/2 years. My stepson always scored high on standardized tests, placement tests, etc., but he never lived up to his potential. He spent 4 years at college earning about 2 years worth of credit. His mother and I stopped supporting him after year 2 at college when it became apparent he was at school to socialize and "party." However, he then received help from his father and also received student loans.


Other examples from his teenage years to help characterize him:

(1) He would spend hour working on homework assignments, but then turn them in late or not at all.

(2) His mother and I provided him with a 6 year old car (a Saturn, which was practical) and we asked him to pay 1/2 of the operating expenses. He bemoaned this, and within a year his father gave him a nicer, newer, sportier car and paid for everything. His father also gave him a cell phone, video games, etc.


My stepson also chose to live with his father and stepmother the summer after he finished his freshman year at college. This devestated my wife, but she never said anything about her feelings to him and never critisized her ex-husband to her son until a couple of years ago. The criticism revolves around the fact that my wife's ex-husband is not a mature adult (he life has revolved around sports, drinking, and himself in general).


My stepson's father moved to Texas (from Michigan) a few years ago for a new job, and his relationship with his father is not very good.


I believe my wife wants to help her son by giving him a place to stay, but I do not believe that would be the best thing for his marriage (as I stated in my 1st question).

I want to convince him to try counseling before moving 180 miles away. What I plan to tell him is:


-- I do not want to help him take the easy way out.

-- Marriage is a life long commitment that often requires putting your wife's feelings before your own.

-- Marriage can be a journey of highs and lows and when things get bad, you just can't walk out.


This type of advice will not be unexpected to him, but my instinct is telling me if I say he can not move in, he will say "okay" and then find some place else to live and then not speak to us again. A few years ago, when he was not living his life with much maturity, his maternal grandmother gave him a brief "lecture" and he has rarely spoken to her since (probably no more than 2 times in 3 years).


I apologize if this is too much info, but I wanted to provide some background.

Thank you for the background information. Your step son has had the easy way out in many situations when other people have bailed him out and have enabled him to use them to his advantage. The best thing that he needs to do is to see a marriage counselor and give his marriage another try. He is a partner with his wife now. They must both be willing to work things out. It may take several counseling sessions but it will be worth the effort. Moving in with you and your wife will not help his marriage. Thanks.
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