Dear Abby: Sometimes when my husband, “Tom,” drinks he becomes volatile. A month ago, after being out drinking, he came home very late. I made a joke that upset him and he started yelling and calling me names. I have learned that when Tom gets like that, it’s best to just agree with him.
On that occasion, it didn’t work, and he began breaking things. Our teenage son “Eric” was so scared he called the police. When the police arrived they told my husband who had placed the call and interviewed each of us separately. After they left, Tom called Eric ugly names, told him he was done with him and hasn’t spoken to him since. If they are in the same room, my husband won’t look at him or talk to him.
I don’t know how to fix this. I worry about how this will affect Eric. He tries to avoid his dad now and goes to his room when he hears his dad come home.
— Bad Behavior in Texas
Dear Bad Behavior: Your husband may blame his abusive outbursts on his drinking, but as you can see, he’s well aware of what he did after he sobers up. Eric was right to call the police because, after “breaking things,” his father could have gone after you.
This unfortunate situation will not improve until Tom faces the fact that he’s a problem drinker, swears off the sauce and gets help. By not insisting upon it, you have cast yourself in the role of his enabler. For your sake and Eric’s, draw the line. (The healthiest person in your household appears to be your son.)
Talk to Eric. Let him know he did nothing wrong. There are programs for families of alcoholics that can be accessed by visiting al-anon.org/info. Attending Al-Anon meetings would be beneficial for you and Eric, regardless of what your husband decides about drying out.
Dear Abby: My husband’s daughter has “borrowed” money from us on countless occasions when she couldn’t pay her bills. She has never made an effort to repay it. She was recently included in someone’s will, and the bequest was sizable. Prior to receiving her inheritance, she had asked to borrow money to buy three major appliances. Because it would be several months until the estate would be settled and it was a large sum that we really couldn’t afford to lose, we required her to sign a promissory note. She mailed us a check when her funds arrived, but now she’s cut off all communication with us! We have tried to resume normal relations with her to no avail. Should we keep trying?
— Ignored in the East
Dear Ignored: So your husband’s daughter is offended because you made her sign a promissory note before handing out (more) money you couldn’t afford to lose? In light of the fact that she hasn’t repaid you for all the other monies you helped her out with when she needed it, what you did was sensible.
Rather than accept that in the past she has behaved irresponsibly, which is why you asked for the guarantee of repayment, she’s blaming YOU?! Instead of beating your heads against a stone wall trying to have a relationship with your husband’s deadbeat daughter, you would be better off biding your time until she once again needs something.
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