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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Trouble At Home

Written by  Dr. Louise Klein

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

My husband dislikes the company of my son. My son wants to come visit me for my birthday. My husband told me that when my son comes to visit, he would go out for the day, as he doesn't want to be in my son's company.

  1. What do I tell my son, who I know is going to ask me where my husband is?

  2. Am I being unreasonable in expecting my husband to "grow up" and deal with it? I told him that when people get married they sometimes do things they may not be comfortable with out of love and respect for the other person. Am I wrong?

This is not a one-time thing, as my husband has told me that he will never be around at any point when my son is. He says he won't compromise his own happiness in order to make me happy. He also said the topic is not open to further discussion. Do you have any answers for me?

My son is expecting a phone call from me to set something up for my birthday and to give him a date to come visit.

My birthday is March 25th, so time is of the essence. Please help!!!!!

Thank You!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ADear "Trouble at Home,"

First, I want to apologize to you, as I know that this reply won't reach you until after your birthday. But I also agree that this is an ongoing problem so you will still be addressing this issue in anticipation of the next family event.

Am I correct in assuming that your son and your husband are not related? If that is the case, how long have you been married to this man? Have he and your son had some kind of argument in the past that is the reason for your husband's behavior today? Has your son done something to offend him in some way?

Forgive me for asking this but parents sometimes have a blind spot when it comes to their children's actions. For example, say your son stole money from your husband's wallet to buy drugs, or he borrowed the car without asking and damaged it or some other event such as this.

If you're sitting there reading this and are horrified that I would even suggest such a thing, fine. But if you're reading this and thinking "Well, it was not such a big deal but there was the time that my son. . ." then you need to sit down with your son and talk with him about making amends to your husband. If you honestly can't think of a thing then let's move on and talk about your husband.

Has the relationship always been this way between these two men? Does your husband criticize other friends of yours and state that if they come over he'll leave? Does your husband try to control you in any other way? If he does then you need to honestly evaluate your relationship with him and learn to set limits and stick to them. As for the times that you want to be with your son, let's look at some things that you can do.

I'm assuming that the house is also in your name therefore your husband can't say "I don't want him in my house." It's your house, too, and you have every right to entertain whomever you want, whenever you want, within reason, while still being courteous (i.e. no rock music blasting at 2 a.m. when your husband is trying to sleep!) You could choose to spend time away from the house with your son. For example, make plans to see him and go to dinner or a movie.

I would encourage you to include your husband in your plans with your son. You could say to him, "It would mean a lot to me if the three of us could spend my birthday together (or Thanksgiving, or Christmas). But if you don't feel that you can do that then I will go ahead and make plans to see my son and you and I will celebrate my birthday at another time." And tell your son the truth as gently as you can if he asks where your husband is. Don't make excuses for your husband and don't lie about where he is.

I would recommend that you go to your local bookstore and check out the books about stepfamilies in the psychology self-help section. The dynamics in a stepfamily can be complicated. These books may be able to offer you some insight or advice about handling your situation. In the back of these books you will often find a directory of associations that deal with stepfamily issues. Get yourself on their mailing list and find out if there's a support group in your area. Although it's very upsetting, your problem is not an uncommon one. To be able to talk with others who have dealt with or are dealing with a similar situation could be very helpful. They may have other suggestions for you. Check it out.

Dr. Louise Klein

Last modified on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 19:21
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Dr. Louise Klein

Dr. Louise Klein

Louise Klein was born on the West Coast of Canada but lived for many years in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Widener University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Louise Klein is an experienced therapist in insight-oriented talk therapy. She has worked with individuals, couples and groups for many years. Her experience with families includes stepfamilies, adoptive families, nuclear families and families dealing with illness or death. Dr Klein is also trained in thought field therapy and regression therapy and has taught and worked internationally. Louise Klein lives in a rural community with her husband and St. Bernard and has a stepdaughter in college in New England.

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