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First counseling session - Validation!!

Ready for Freedom's picture

I was so very fortunate to find a therapist that specializes in stepfamilies AND "Failure to Launch" kids (20 years experience)!!! Bazinga! I had my first session yesterday afternoon. I went alone because I wanted to feel her out to see if she would be a good match plus I wanted to give her the history of SS23 and SD19 (they still live with us). I laid it all out to the therapist.
SS23 - dropped out of school in 9th grade; has only worked 5 months his whole life; obviously doesn't pay rent, utilities, etc; DH pays him to mow the lawn, etc; smokes pot in the house; threatens suicide at least once a year; been put in 2 week long hospital stays at least 4 times for suicide threats; etc, etc, etc.
SS19 - graduated high school; works 20 hours a week; doesn't pay rent, utilities, etc; doesn't help with household chores; got a dog even though DH said no (we've had the dog for 2 years now); smokes pot in the house; runs an electric heater in her bedroom because she is too lazy to put wood in the wood stove (and doesn't pay for the electricity to run said heater!)etc, etc, etc.
After sharing many stories about the stepkids and DH's enabling parenting style she looks at me and says "How the hell have you stayed as long as you have!? You are living in an asinine situation!" She told me I wasn't crazy or selfish for wanting the kids to be held responsible and for wanting to get them self sufficient enough to move out of the house. Awesome to hear all this from a qualified 3rd party!!!
I told her that last week I had had enough and told DH that I needed to see progress with the stepkids getting self sufficient or I would be moving out. She said I needed to get DH an appointment with her so she can talk to him alone. She wants to see if he is willing to make some changes for the sake of our marriage. She then flat out told me that if he doesn't agree to therapy and letting her help us make some plans to move the kids toward self sufficiency then I need to move out as that would shake him up enough to maybe do something about the situation. She said she has dealt with hundreds and hundreds of stepfamilies in this situation and many of the times having a stepmom move out is what finally got the Dad to see his enabling ways because then he had to deal with the stepkids all on his own. She said 80% of the time that brought the Dad to his senses as he was having to deal with all the bullshit on his own and it enabled him to make the choice of living in chaos with stepkids or living in a peaceful loving home without stepkids with his wife.
I am prepared to move out if I have to.
So, the question is - how do I smoothly get DH to agree to see her without triggering his defense mechanisms? The therapist is so down to earth and very witty. This is the kind of person that DH would be friends with if he met her at work. I know DH will really like her if I can just get his butt in the door. And then - let progress begin! Any suggestion?

Ready for Freedom's picture

I'm just checking to make sure this posts as I really need some advice on this one. Smile

Rags's picture

Unfortunately the ultimatum may be the only motivator to get DH to the counselor. I hope a direct request will work for you but if not ...... Value Place is a good temporary living arrangement worth considering.

Good luck.

Ready for Freedom's picture

StepAside, that is where I am at right now. I've had my fill. I told DH last week that I love him and want to be with him but I simply cannot live in the same house with the skids without a light at the end of the tunnel. I just want the skids and DH to start making progress to get the skids on their own 2 feet....making the necessary steps to having them live independently. Even if I move out I will still continue to be with DH - we just won't be living in the same house. I can live with that arrangement. I don't know if he can but I have definitely had my fill of the "merry band of idiots".

sandye21's picture

I agree - Just tell him you have been seeing a therapist and ask if he wants to see her - or another therapist he might not feel threatened about.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Correct SS, threatening to or moving out is a BIG decision and only one to be taken lightly. It should only happen when we reach the end of our rope, so to speak, and have totally had it.

The good side is that sometimes, once you do go this far, thinks can happen that were resisted in the past. The other party's eyes get opened because now they see you are serious.

A lot of good came out of my throwing my DH out of the house last summer. He got a taste of what I had been dealing with with his daughter first hand. Before I threw him out he wouldn't dream of going to counseling, but afterwards he did and he really got the picture and how to handle some of the things that have come up in the past with dealing with his daughter and how he can't fix her and isn't responsible for her.

But last summer I was ready to go it alone because I had my fill. In my twilight years life is way too short to put up with carp.

K.C.'s picture

I agree with StepAside. I wouldn't move out to get DH's attention. I would move out if I knew there was no way I was ever coming back. This could get his attention but if you have any possibilitilty of moving back in, I wouldn't risk it for it could backfire. I do agree with your dh going to an appointment separately so she can talk with him and I hope he goes. Just tell your dh that the therapist wants to see him alone, like you went alone, so your dh's side could be heard w/out you there.

In the meantime, can you separate your finances so you don't have to contribute one red cent to this craziness?

Merry's picture

Does your DH know you saw the counselor? If not, tell him. And tell him ALL the details of your discussion. And I wouldn't hesitate to show enthusiasm about a possible solution to this thing that is driving you crazy. And that she would like to meet with him, too, to help you both find a way to remedy the situation. If he won't meet with her, you know he is not really willing to do the work necessary to find a solution to his failure to launch kids. And that would be intolerable for me.

While I agree that leaving is a drastic choice, I would do it if I had tried everything else. But at that point I would be willing to end the marriage if DH still wasn't willing to address the issue.

whatamess's picture

I don't like that she told you to move out to get his attention. That's manipulative. If you're going to move out, plan on keeping on moving because that's what could happen. He may very well be glad that the tension is gone and be ready for a divorce. If you're going to pack yourself up, be VERY prepared for it to be permanent. If it does move him to action, great, but don't use it as a tool to get him to do it because it very well may backfire.

deconstruction's picture

I'm going to agree with echo here. My experience with therapists is that they tell you what you want to hear in hopes that you will continue to make their boat payments. Cynical? you bet.

peacemaker's picture

...because, unfortunately,,,
a lot of men are passive aggressive and don't seem to wake up until you are half way out the door....

Poodle's picture

Interestingly, I happen to have noticed that recently on this site a number of very wise posters have been counseling spouses to move out as a make-or-break statement, saying that most of the time the offending spouse will realize where their values lie and improve their behavior. The advice I've seen given was not really that the OP try to manipulate because, as posters here too have said, you can only take that step if you yourself are prepared to face the consequence that your departure may be welcome. I'm at an earlier stage of the game than you in the sense that I still have young kids in the home and can't do that to them (short of getting a large amount of funds from nowhere such that I could buy DH out of our home and ask him to leave, or buy elsewhere, or whatever). But looking into the future I could well imagine a life where our own chicks had flown the nest but the skids were regularly dumping on us, moving in on us and so forth and the codependency began afresh. At that point I would definitely move out not as a tactic but a last resort, and in my case it would work as such because I'm very certain that heartbroken as DH might be, he'd actually prefer a lifestyle with the skids than the one with me and all my perceived criticisms. RFF, I imagine you may know which way your own DH might jump. I'd most certainly not do that at this stage but wait until a good chunk of therapy is under your respective belts. I do agree with Echo that you have poisoned the well, what a shame! That counselor should have warned you against such. She's set up a "conflict of interests" impression now and I too feel it is possibly irremediable. It was already the case that your DH would have suspected that you would have ganged up with a female therapist against him in advance, that's a natural male suspicion, and unfortunately in this case it is objectively true. You won't be able to deny it even though the "ganging" was entirely innocent. How about this idea? YOu treat this one piece of therapy with her as yours and yours alone, and you ask her for the name of a good colleague whom she would recommend you and DH to go to as a pair. You then are able to honestly present the next session to DH as a completely unmarked fresh page in your lives.

Ready for Freedom's picture

"How about this idea? YOu treat this one piece of therapy with her as yours and yours alone, and you ask her for the name of a good colleague whom she would recommend you and DH to go to as a pair. You then are able to honestly present the next session to DH as a completely unmarked fresh page in your lives."

That's a good idea. I'm first going to see if DH will go to this counselor. If not, I will suggest a new counselor that we both go to from the start. The main reason I went alone the first time was I know DH doesn't like therapists. He's a salt of the earth kind of guy and thinks therapy is psycho babble. I really wanted to see if this therapist was someone he would click with. Someone that wasn't spewing psycho babble talk. My DH would walk right out the door if that were the case.

TobinNZ's picture

Be honest. Tell him you want to fix this and see this therapist. Don't move out unless you intend to stay out, he could call your bluff!
Tell him that you need to see him make an Effort to fix this home, family and marriage. What is your BATNA (Google it)?
This should matter to him. He WILL get defensive, accept that response. But this should matter to him. If not, then, well. Maybe you have different priorities and maybe weren't meant to be.

Ready for Freedom's picture

I feel like I need to clarify a few things here...

First, I have talked to DH many times about getting the skids help to make them self sufficient. He just doesn't seem to move forward nor do the skids. So, this is not a new conversation.

2. I told DH that I needed to see progress with the skids moving towards independence. He agreed that he would like to see them get on their own. He stated he has a hard time knowing what to do for them to help in that arena.

3. I told him I needed to see some progress or I wouldn't be able to stay living in the same house. I was not manipulating him, I was stating very clearly what my needs are. Just progress, baby steps, a little light at the end of the tunnel. My stating that I wouldn't be able to live there if I didn't see progress within one year is not manipulative. It is stating fact.

4. I am prepared for divorce if that is what it comes down to but I honestly don't think it will come to divorce. I think he really wants to help his kids become responsible adults but he just doesn't know how. He needs help in this arena - professional parenting help. However, like I said, I am prepared to move out permanently and if he wants a be it. I can't live with these kids for the next 5 -20 years. Again, not manipulating....It's survival at this point in time.

5. The therapist didn't tell me to move out on a whim. I told her about my previous conversation with DH and she stated "If you are going to say something like that then you need to be prepared to follow through and move out. Period." Which I agree. I would never just throw that around willy nilly in a fight with DH. I have only told him that exactly once. So, since I had already told him that, she then proceeded to say that IF I was comfortable with the idea of moving out and accepted the fact that I may never live with him again that this could perhaps be to my advantage as she has seen this help in situations like this. She didn't suggest moving out to get his attention - she was saying this might be a side benefit to moving out. I am the one that said I would be willing to move out and she backed up that plan as a credible plan if it comes down to that.

6. I am totally open to the therapist telling me anything I might be doing wrong in my behaviors. I'm willing to change my perspective and my behavior if I need to. However, I am not willing to live with the adults skids in a permanently open ended arrangement. I'm simply not going to accept that and I didn't sign up for that.

So, basically I think some of the details got lost in my original post (and some details may still be lost even after this). I had rewritten that post like 5 times because it wouldn't post so by the 5th time I think I was just trying to get the bullet points across. I hope it makes more sense now.

sandye21's picture

There is no way anyone can know the particulars of your situation better than you. If I wrote about the details of what I went through with DH and SD for 20 years it would take a lot more room (and time) than what is allotted here and I honestly don't believe everyone wants to read my version of War and Peace.

When I went to a counselor alone 3 1/2 years ago she told me that my marriage might or might not survive. At that point in time I was where you are now - ready either way. I never threatened my DH with divorce or told him to leave (I owned the house), but HE threatened to leave on the average of every 3 to 6 months for our entire marriage. With the counselors' help, I told him he was free to leave if he wanted to. It was not manipulation - it was survival for me too. He got the 'message' and decided to finally talk about it. He never got up the courage to defend me to his princess, but I found the courage to tell him SD is not allowed in our home until he does.

The important thing is you have to take care of you first. Life is too short to be in misery.

One thing though, as another poster has suggested, ask your counselor to refer you and DH to a good marriage therapist so you can start out 'even' and fresh.

Poodle's picture

Liked this point of Sandye: "He never got up the courage to defend me to his princess, but I found the courage to tell him SD is not allowed in our home until he does." That could be reworked into a good discussion point with our DHs, thanks Sandye.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

First and foremost, IMVHO, pot smoking should not be allowed in your house if you don't want it there or don't approve of it. This might be something you could get your hubby to agree on because you find it offensive. That if the SD wants to smoke dope, she can't live with you. I think that is a reasonable place to start with things.