LIFE

My Estranged Son Invited Me To His Fancy Wedding — Then He Asked Me To Foot The Bill

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

We all face a dizzying whirlwind of challenges every single day; it’s part and parcel of the human experience.

In the end, it all balances out. For every painful struggle, there’s a moment of perfect bliss, and vice versa.

Of course, when you’re in the middle of a major life challenge, it can be hard to remember that it will get better.

Fortunately, LittleThings is here to help!

Each and every week, I sort through tons of powerful questions from you, our readers, to put together an advice column that everyone can take something away from.

If you have a question of your own, please feel free to send it my way at AskBecca@LittleThings.com!

Last week, we discussed potty-training woes, pushy parents, a philandering boyfriend, and beach-body confidence!

This week we’ll discuss an ex who wants back in, lackluster parenting, an alcoholic partner, and a disrespectful DIL.

Scroll through below for my very best advice, and don’t forget to weigh in with your own words of wisdom in the comments!

Photo Credit: Flickr / Flickr

Calls From An Ex

Jerk ex keeps calling to ask and see her
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

I was in a relationship for three years. The man I was with could not afford it, so I helped him furnish his house so he could support his five kids with what little he earned.

Because of my work, we did not live together. I found out he was spending a lot of time on the phone talking to another woman.

He said they were just friends, but I could tell it was more than that. This went on for a year — then, just like it started, it stopped.

In all the time we were together, he has never remembered my birthday, he has never bought me so much as a hairpin, is always criticizing what I do, how I dress, my work — it was endless.

Eventually, he got a better job and I thought things would get better. Instead, all of a sudden he stopped saying he missed me.

My visits became more of a challenge, and he would complain about everything I did. We saw less and less of each other and we didn’t talk for weeks. When we did, it was because he wanted sex.

I got tired of being used like that, so I stopped calling him and he didn’t call me either.

Three months passed and I was beginning to get on with my life — then he started calling again, begging to see me, telling me how much he missed me.

My heart tells me he’s just after sex. He has a need to use me again. What should I do?

Anonymous

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Anon,

You say that your heart tells you that he’s using you; I say listen to your heart!

From what you say, it sounds like your boyfriend treated you pretty shabbily in the past. Relying on you to foot the bill while he chats with his suspiciously flirty phone friend? Not a good look.

I wasn’t there, so I can’t know for sure, but it seems like he’s been using you from Day 1.

He let you very generously help him out when he was struggling financially. Then, as soon as he got a job and could pay his own bills, he started pulling away from you.

It’s like a very underhanded magic trick: he doesn’t need your money anymore, so poof — he disappears!

Now that he has come crawling back, I would be very wary of his motivations. Maybe he really does miss you; I don’t want to tell you that people never change.

Still, he has a history of reaching out when he needs you and then fading into the woodwork as soon as you’ve helped him out.

If you aren’t interested in being part of his drama any more, just ignore the texts and calls; you have no obligation to answer them.

If you do decide to answer, stay polite and distant, and don’t let him draw you back into this toxic cycle.

Stay strong; you’re better than this wheedling guy who always wants either sex or money from you!

Becca

Tolerating A Slacker

Husband refuses to help around the house and only plays games
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Dear Becca,

I am a 32-year-old mom of two. My youngest daughter’s dad is a jerk, but I try to make things work for my daughter who is only 8 months old.

He doesn’t work, he never helps around the house. When he does, it’s because I’ve had to yell at him.

All he wants to do is play an online game all day long (now, he is in his 40s; he’s not a young guy).

How long should I have to deal with this??? I feel bad because he is 3,000 miles from anyone he knows.

What do I do?

Anonymous

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Anon,

Well, here’s my first question: did you make this guy move 3,000 miles to live with his daughter? I’m guessing the answer is no.

Presumably, he made a choice to leave his old life in the interest of being closer to his daughter.

As you note in your question, he’s a grown-up. A man in his 40s is fully capable of deciding what to do for himself.

In other words, you have no obligation or responsibility to him.

There’s nothing wrong with preparing a few home-cooked meals and trying to help him settle in to a new environment. Honestly, I think a hallmark of successful co-parenting is always expressing respect and appreciation for one another.

That said, I think you are going above and beyond for a guy who doesn’t pull his weight.

From the way you talk about him (“my daughter’s father”), it seems like the two of you are no longer romantically involved. And yet, you’ve let him move into your home and you’re taking care of his day-to-day housekeeping needs.

Maybe he thinks he’s fulfilled all of his obligations by moving 3,000 miles, and now he can kick back.

You need to let him know that partnership and parenting never stop; it’s a 24/7 job, and he needs to keep helping out and supporting you in creating a life for your daughter.

Lay down the law, Mama!

Best of luck,

Becca

Drinking Problems

Alcoholic boyfriend blames girlfriend for everything that goes wrong
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Becca,

I have been dating my boyfriend for nine years. I really love him.

The thing is, he is an alcoholic. When things go wrong, he blames me for it; he has called me names that I won’t say, but they hurt so much.

I feel like no matter what I do, I’m doing it wrong. He yells at me all the time.

I just get up and go into the bedroom to get away from all the hurtful words.

There have been so many nights I cried myself to sleep, then there are nights I don’t get any sleep ’cause I can hear him yelling behind closed doors.

In the morning I confront him about all the things he said to me, and he looks at me like I’m making it all up. He apologizes to me and says he doesn’t remember saying all that.

I love him so much, but I’m getting so tired of being hurt. I was told that while he is drunk, he tells the truth about how he really feels about me.

I don’t want to believe that,  but he only does it when he is really drunk. I don’t know what to do or say to him anymore.

Please help me,

So Lost and Confused

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Lost and Confused,

I want to approach this as gently as possible, because you have found yourself in a very delicate and painful position.

From your descriptions, I believe that your boyfriend has become verbally abusive, and is using his alcoholism to absolve him of his guilt.

Even if he is blacking out every single night, there’s no way he doesn’t have some memory or lingering sense of the ugliness that comes with his drunken rages. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

I know that you really love him, but I also think that, for your own safety and peace of mind, you need to have an honest conversation with him about his alcohol abuse, while he’s sober.

Addiction is a disease, and he needs to get help and break the cycle of cruelty. If he really commits to a program, there’s a chance that you might rediscover the man you fell in love with.

However, if he’s in denial and refuses to acknowledge his problem and the hurtful things he says to you when he’s drinking, you need to get space away from him.

You can’t force an addict to get clean, and if he keeps continuing on this self-destructive path, he might spiral further out of control.

Over time, he might escalate in his drunken rages and become a physical danger to you.

It’s heartbreaking to see the ugliness inside someone you love, but you have to take care of yourself first and make sure that you are no longer victimized by his addiction.

Next time he gets aggressive, I encourage you to call your local police.

You should also consider contacting a local chapter of a service that helps women in dangerous domestic situations, like National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

You are strong and powerful — don’t let him take that away with his bad behavior and hurtful words.

Love and warmest wishes,

Becca

Arrested Development

<u>Arrested Development</u>
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Becca,

I had not heard from my son for almost a year because of some advice I gave his girlfriend that she took very badly. She became very disrespectful and attacked me online.

That was the last I spoke with him for almost a year.

About a year later, I got a frantic call from my son. He was crying and told me he and his girlfriend were living in a hotel and he didn’t have money to pay rent.

I paid two weeks of rent for him and was going to send him another $1,000 to help them make it until he got paid. I informed him he was a grown man and needed to start figuring life crises out with his partner.

Once again, I was childishly shunned for another year. That brings us up to my problem.

Another year went by and my son called, telling me they had set a wedding date and wanted me to be there.

They got married with a huge ceremony that cost a lot of money. She was finally working and from the impression I was getting, they were doing great financially.

The one thing I did notice was that the bride refused to talk to me.

But, the first thing she wanted my son to ask was how much I would be giving toward the wedding.

I said “What?

I simply told my son that it was their wedding, not mine! Still wanting to be somewhat supportive, I decided to pay for their five-day honeymoon package, which was not cheap!

However, she remains rude, disrespectful, and aloof.

My question is: I don’t know how to get beyond this, because obviously his new wife is very immature and unappreciative. How do you deal with someone who sees nothing wrong with that kind of behavior?

Lonely Old Maid Mother

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Lonely Mother,

Mama, I am 100 percent on your side in this debate.

You have gone above and beyond for your son and his wife, and they have both been remarkably ungrateful in return.

The wedding episode is particularly galling. If they want to have a lavish wedding, that’s their business, but they have no right to come to you asking for a hand out — particularly since you were just barely starting to repair your fractured relationship with your son.

I think it’s time that you cut the purse strings, for good.

Your son and his wife are grown-ups, and it’s not your job to help them finance their lifestyle. It might even make your relationship with your son healthier in the long run.

It’s also important to note that you’re retiring right now. When you stop working, you’ll be on a fixed income.

That gives you an easy way to tell your son that the money tree is officially closed for business, while still making it possible to have a relationship.

Next time he asks for cash, say something like, “[Name], I love you, but I really can’t help you out financially anymore. I’m living off of my savings and don’t have any money to spare.”

This approach gives him a way out with his demanding wife — “Mom is retiring, she really can’t help us” — and allows you to maintain a relationship without also maintaining his bill payments.

As for the DIL? I wouldn’t really bother about her.

Just be polite when you see her, and don’t pursue a relationship with her beyond that.

Don’t offer advice, start comment wars online, or fuss about what she thinks of you. Your connection with your son matters way more.

Best of luck, Mom!

Becca

LittleThings writer Becca
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

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