His Wife's Addict Son May Move In
Q: My second wife and I have been married for 12 years, at which time all of our children were out of the house. It was a new beginning for us, and we were like young newlyweds. She has always had problems with one of her sons, sadly. He's been struggling with addiction. I'm not his father, and limit my involvement. I do believe she has handled it the best she could.
The serious issue now is that her son is having a relapse, will be coming out of recovery and she wants to take him in with us. I'm not one of these "I didn't sign up for this" kind of guys, but I forecast a bad situation all around. I don't agree that we are the ones who are best for him. She has what I would call a natural guilt even though she knows she can't cure him. Her tough love exterior is disintegrating. I've pleaded with her for us to think of an alternative. I need assistance in helping my wife first, then her son. — Sandy, 60
Dr. Susan: You are so right to be leery of his moving in with you. Your wife perhaps wants a last (?) chance to mother him in a way that will keep him sober, but moving in with his mom and stepdad is unlikely to "fix" him. She can spend a lot of time with him, as much as HE wants, but it would be foolish to imagine that your stepfamily dynamics won't complicate things.
Have you talked with a social worker where he was treated? Or a counselor specializing in addiction issues? You can't be the heavy here, but you and your wife can discuss possible alternative living arrangements, as well as responses to various "what if" scenarios. IF he moves in, you need contingency plans. His time there ought to be limited, and he probably needs to see a counselor or attend meetings regularly. If he breaks whatever rules you and his mom set up, there must be real consequences. Your wife, first, needs to understand her co-dependence here, and to learn the limit of her ability to deal with a relapsing addict. I hope you'll find a helping professional to guide you all through this transition.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.