How long to live apart from husband on account of his son?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2014
How long to live apart from husband on account of his son?
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Tue, 04-15-2014 - 3:45am

Hi, all. I really need some perspective: How long should I live apart from my husband on account of his son? ... My question seems simple enough, but it’s actually quite complicated, and the background story is rather complicated, too:

My husband and I knew each other in high school and “re-met” on Facebook in January 2009. We soon started dating, even though we lived about 1 1/2 hours apart.

In the spring of 2011, my husband and I were now engaged, and he moved in with me, along with his 18-year-old son who had just graduated from high school. The plan was for his son to attend a local community college and earn his physical therapy assistant degree in two years (around the spring of 2013) and then move back to his home town, where he could work and live with his older brother who remained there.

Soon after my husband and his son moved in with me, I started to get to know his son better and became very unhappy and uneasy living with him. I saw in our computer’s history that he was visiting very racist, sexist websites, and while cleaning his room, I saw that he was buying adult “comic” books in which women are tortured and raped. His favorite movie to watch was “American Psycho,” about a serial killer of women. My husband’s son is a large body builder who likes the “intimidating” look of growing a big, bushy beard and walking around in a tank shirt. He would barely talk to me or my two children (son was age 11, and daughter was age 6 at the time). I, unfortunately, started to snoop in his stuff as I began to wonder more and more who this person was living in my home with me and children.

[My husband is barely home, since he works 50+ hour weeks and then trains for triathlons in his free time. I was spending way more time with his son than he ever had. And the few hours when my husband was home, he expected me to spend them watching movies with him and his son. (His son has very few friends and is always at home.) I felt like I had no “alone” time for myself or for me and my husband.]

During my unfortunate snooping, I found a crumpled-up brochure in his son’s coat pocket about getting help if you are a sexual abuser. And in a bag under his bed, I found a diary his son wrote in high school in which he talked about women being good for nothing but sex (and that black women were the worst kind) and that he wanted to stab a girl in his class with a knife -- those were among many of the violent, sexist and racist comments in the diary. I showed the diary to my husband, and he thumbed through it half-interested while watching TV. I expressed my fear and unhappiness, but he said it was just all due to the fact that his son hates his mother and that I had nothing to worry about. I didn’t want my husband to mention the diary to his son as I was afraid he’d be angry and possibly hurt me while my husband was away. (My husband insists that his son would never hurt a flea, but he has spent so little time with him over the years, I am not sure he has a realistic view.)

Then, to compound things, my husband’s son was fired from his job and was spending even more time at home with me -- he would sleep until 3:00 in the afternoon and play video games and walk around in boxers. I would ask my husband to talk to him about getting up and getting motivated, but my husband told me that wasn’t his “job” to do -- which I totally disagreed with! {And on top of all that, there was a period of time when my husband was also unemployed, and I was supporting all of us!} Fortunately, my husband eventually found a job for his son at a local gym, and my husband also found a new job.

But, things came to a boiling point during Christmas 2012 when I was driving home and started crying. It was the holidays, and the last place I wanted to go was “home,” where I felt so unhappy and uncomfortable. I told my husband I couldn’t live with his son anymore, and my husband said that in that case, both he and his son would move out. (We were married by this time, having tied the knot in February 2012.) ... My husband got an apartment for his son and him over an hour away and closer to my husband’s job.

It is now April 2014 -- 1 year and 3 months later -- and my husband still has the apartment with his son (who was never accepted into the physical therapy assistant program and still hasn’t earned an Associate’s degree; also, my husband continues to pay nearly 100% of his son’s expenses, including a monthly car payment). I know that our children our are priority, but I think my husband and I have different values when it comes to how to demonstrate that sense of priority -- my expectations for my kids when they are nearly 21 years old is that they are away at college or nearly graduating and have a career plan and an ambition that THEY have bought into and are working towards, like my brother and I did. (The physical therapy assistant was my husband’s idea, not his son’s. And my husband himself didn’t earn an Associate’s until adulthood, so I know we have very different perspectives on things.)

Meanwhile, my husband continues to spend only Wednesdays and Sundays with me (I see him for a few hours when he gets home late on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and we see each other for a few minutes Thursday mornings. My children see him for a few minutes every other Saturday night, since they are with their dad the other times). I pay 100% of the mortgage and expenses for our home, while my husband pays for the apartment. When we talked about moving to our new house (just moved in March 2014), I had mentioned to my husband that I needed him to spend another night per week with me, but he seems to have forgotten this, and I know he would not agree to it if I asked again -- I know he’d feel his Ironman training would suffer.

My husband’s work commute is about 1 hour 20 minutes from our home, so I know that having the apartment near his job helps with his commute and the training time he needs for Ironman. My husband and I went to couples therapy around January 2013 to help us with this transition. He told the counselor that he’d be living with me full-time if it weren’t for his son, whom he feels he must live with or else his son will feel abandoned. So, I know that the apartment near his job isn’t really all about shortening the commute and giving him more training time. (To this day, I continue to wonder why my husband has never taken the time to get counseling for or with his son. He has the time and money if he really wanted to do it. I think my husband believes that hanging out with his son and going to the movies with him is all that’s required for his issues involving women and his overall social and emotional struggles.)

So, here we are 1 year and 3 months since they moved out. I have never spent more than 2 nights in a row with my husband for all this time (except for 1 time when he came to see me on a Friday night because I had a health scare). And, it sounds like he intends to keep things this way for another 9 months since he just signed another apartment lease until January 2015 -- and if his son still hasn’t graduated or still doesn’t have a job by January 2015, I have no idea what will happen. My husband says he doesn’t believe in giving timelines or deadlines to his son, but I feel having a timeframe and an expectation of when to move out and launch into life is what he needs.

In a nutshell, I’m beginning to wonder what it would be like to have a full-time husband who is more of a life partner to me, rather than one who seems to stop in for visits twice a week and spends much of that time training for Ironman. (I just bought a house in my name, and my husband gave me about $5000 for the downpayment plus paid for some furniture, which I am incredibly grateful for, but the monthly mortgage is about $3,000 so I am carrying the bulk of this financial weight.) For now, I find my husband attractive, funny, interesting and supportive enough of me emotionally to withstand these struggles. And I also share his love of triathlon and train for them, too.

But, I fear the day is coming where my desire for a close partnership that feels like “family” will outweigh the limits of our relationship that continues to feel “long-distance” and “half-committed” in so many ways.

What do I do? Give this current situation 9 more months? .... Ask him to spend another night at our home?....But what if nothing changes in yet another 9 months? .......

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2014

Good point not to forget that my husband's son is still part of this issue and someone who will be in the picture as long as i'm married to his father. Tomorrow is Easter, for example, and we'll all be at my in-laws. I know that it will be hard for me to interact with his son and my husband will pick up on that, and the tension will continue to mount.....Hopefully, the counseling will start soon and the 3rd- party voice will help, as you mention...The first time we went to counseling, though, the counselor focused mostly on what I could do to build a relationship with my husband's son -- I felt like I was the bad guy. I will need to make sure it doesn't go down that route again.... As an aside, my husband has an older son, who is 26, and lives  1 1/2 hours away and will be at Easter, too. The older son was living in my husband's basement until my husband moved to be with me about 3 years ago. The older son stayed behind and moved in with his grandma. The older son just recently got an apartment and works as a bouncer at a bar, having been unable/unwillig to get an associate's degree or any sort of certification. But, at least the older son is finally learning to be self-sufficient (although I think he has a girlfriend he leans on a lot). My husband sends him some money on his birthday and helped him buy a used car, but does not support any further. When the older son was living with my husband, and I would come visit, i would see that he would trash the kitchen, his bedroom, the bathroom and never help to clean up; he'd have loud, verbally abusive fights with his girlfriend; and he'd play loud music and be up until 3 or 4 in the morning. My husband would lose it once in a while and demand that the son clean up the  house, but the tactic never created lasting behavior, obviously. I really don't understand my husband's tolerance for both of his son's behaviors. My husband says he feels so bad about their bad relationship with their mother (he had his first son by "mistake" with her at the age of 19), that he just wants to "be there for them." I've suggested to my husband that that approach doesn't seem to be working well, and of course he gets incredibly defensive and starts to criticize my kids. I tell him that isn't fair and isn't the issue and that it's not apples to apples. But, again, everyone's advice here has been great that I can't keep telling my husband these things -- HE needs to decide what he wants to work on, and then I have to decide what I can live with.  I am so very anxious to start the counseling up again and hope that it goes down a more productive route this time....

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