by: Wayne and Tamara
Direct Answers - Column for the week of January 13, 2003
I am recently divorced from a destructive narcissist. His infidelity, coupled with a lack of remorse for the havoc caused to our family, was the last straw. This crisis drove me to discover much about myself that needs repairing. I am happily working on those issues, particularly on establishing clear boundaries and a strong sense of self.
Last week my son, his former stepson, received a birthday check. I told my son he should return it. I said it was okay to keep the good memories in his heart and be polite when they met, but that gift was just making my ex look like a good guy and showing total disregard for the pain he caused all of us.
My son accidentally got wind of his stepfather's affair through a third party. It was a cruel discovery, and he was deeply hurt. I also explained it's hard to say "enough" to someone you opened your heart to, but it is imperative to recognize situations for what they are and not make excuses for bad behavior. My gut says I'm on the mark. What do you say?
Julene, our gut says you are on the mark. For yourself. But your relationship to your ex-husband and your son's relationship to him are two entirely different things.
For better or for worse, you were the one who brought this man into your son's life. You don't mention how long you were married or how old your son is. But it sounds as if this man may be the only father your son has ever known. As long as your ex-husband is not clearly using this to get back at you or to manipulate your son, let your son decide.
If the check is what it appears to be on the surface, a gift, your son should decide whether to accept or not. If he is like most young people, he would rather have the money. If he is like most young people, he would rather not be caught in the middle of a power struggle between his mom and the man he thought of as dad.
Wayne & Tamara
Rules Of The Game
About a year ago my husband and I refound the passion in our relationship. We are all over each other all the time.
He is always pinching my rear, sliding his hand along my shirt, or playing with my thong. He has done things like hang my underwear on the wall or in the car after a particularly great encounter. He sometimes removes towels from the bathroom so I have to run dripping wet to our bedroom in just my underwear.
I love my husband's flirty ways and all his passion, except he does these things in full view of my 17-year-old son. This really embarrasses my son. The other day my husband pulled on my thong, and my son was so upset he was almost in tears. How do I find a happy medium between my son's embarrassment and a great flirty love life with my husband?
Uma, it is important for children to have a strong sense of love, both emotional and physical, between their parents. That is as much a part of marriage as paying bills, going to work, and taking care of children.
Your marriage is not only intact, it is still growing. That is good for your son to see. But while children need to have a healthy and balanced sense of what marriage is, they do not need to view the details. Those details are not part of their relationship to their parents.
All games have rules. In football, certain uses of the hands are simply not done in full view of the referee. Reining in a little for the sake of your son can enhance your pleasure when he is not around and you express yourselves freely.