Dear Annie: I’ve been with my husband for 14 years. I have a career and make good money with excellent benefits. But “Ben” hasn’t found himself quite yet. He is now in his early 30s and has studied architecture, business, machining, personal training, mechanics, computers and more. He has started a few businesses, all of which fizzled. He has trouble making decisions about a career, and whenever he gets close to finishing what he starts, he second-guesses himself and starts a new path. None of the men in his family is particularly confident. I believe he is afraid to fail.
Ben’s mother has always been the family leader and is extremely critical of her husband and children. Anytime he begins a new endeavor, she shoots him down. I try to give him praise to counteract her, but it isn’t enough. While I don’t mind bearing the load financially, I really want to see Ben come into his own. I think it would help our marriage and set a good example for our children.
We recently had a baby, and it’s looking as if Ben will be a stay-at-home dad. This is fine with me, but I wonder if he will ever find a career and thrive in it. Is there anything I can do to help him along, or should I just accept the way things are? Am I crippling him because of my success? Everything else about him is perfect. – Married to Undecided
Dear Married: You are not crippling him. Ben’s problems may stem from attention deficit disorder, his parents or some combination of psychological issues. It would probably take a bit of therapy to unravel the causes and work on changing the way he approaches his life. If the two of you are willing to invest the time and money, suggest he talk to a psychologist.