Dear Ann Landers: My 25-year-old son, with whom my wife and I have had no contact since his junior year in high school, was recently discharged from the military - they didn’t want him. He is broke and has no job, no prospects and no place to stay. He wanted to come home.
Against his stepmother’s wishes, I sent him train fare and moved him into our home. The day he moved in, my wife moved out and filed for divorce. Her parting words were “I refuse to live with a liar, a thief and a rip-off artist.” His birth mother and grandparents want nothing to do with him either, since he has taken advantage of them in the past.
I love my wife very much, but after all these years apart, I don’t want to lose my son again. I believe my wife is being unreasonable when she forces me to choose between her and my son. What do you say, Ann? - Undecided and In Despair
Dear Undecided: I say you made a grave error when you moved your son into your home against your wife’s wishes. When she describes him as “a liar, a thief and a rip-off artist,” and you do not challenge that assessment, and his mother and grandparents will have nothing to do with him because he “took advantage of them in the past,” it is clear that the young man has a lot of baggage.
I hope you will find your son another place to live immediately, get him into intensive therapy and beg your wife to come back home. I hope she will agree. If you trade your marriage for a relationship with your son, I fear you will have made a very bad bargain.
Dear Ann Landers: “Bob” and I have been married for two years. When we first married, I moved into the home he had been living in for quite some time. The problem? He gave his parents a key to the house long before we met. They are accustomed to using it whenever they wish, including when we are not at home.
Bob’s parents are nice people, and they always let us know when they are coming. But it still bothers me that they have access to our home when we are at work. I have talked with Bob about this, but he sees nothing wrong with his parents having a key and entering our place whenever they wish.
I don’t want to insist that my husband ask his parents to return the key because I know what an explosion that would cause. I don’t even mind having them drop in when we are at home. Bob’s argument is that since we are planning to buy a new house in a year or two, it will automatically put an end to the problem, so why rock the boat now? Meanwhile, I am becoming increasingly annoyed at the thought that my in-laws have access to our home, and I don’t want to wait “a year or two” to put an end to it. I need some advice, Ann. - Northern Belle
Dear Belle: It is not uncommon for people to give the keys of their home to a relative or neighbor when they go on a trip out of town, but you have a right to be annoyed at your husband for insisting that his parents have access to your home whether you are there or not.
In order not to offend Bob’s parents, I suggest that you and Bob agree to change the locks “for security reasons.” Install a new state-of-the-art burglar-proof lock, and tell them how much safer you feel. When you do not give them a set of keys, they will get the message. Of course, on the occasions when you plan to leave the city and would like them to water the plants and bring in the newspapers and mail, you will then give them the keys, but don’t fail to ask for them back when you return.
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