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My wife's adult children are bums whose lifestyles I pay for.

Tagged as: Big Questions, Family, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (5 October 2018) 19 Answers - (Newest, 6 October 2018)
A male United States age 41-50, anonymous writes:

Hi all,

I have a problem.

First off, I've been married for over 21 years. We largely get along -- mostly because I don't complain about much. During that time, I have raised my wife's 2 children from her previous marriage. They are currently 26 and 28. I've been in their life since they were 3 and 5.

The 28 year-old has her life subsidized by her mom -- or shall I say me. My wife doesn't work anymore and is retired and gets a pension. She doesn't contribute anything to the household budget, it all goes to pay for her children's stuff. Her daughter's phone, car insurance, gas, delinquent taxes, DUI, and even cable are paid for by her mom, ala me because I am expected to cover what she can't do. The daughter works when she wants and goes on month-long trips while her mom (or again, me) foots the difference.

Her 26 year old lives with us. He is a bum. College educated, doesn't work and doesn't shower. Claims to be looking for a job the last 2 years while playing computer games night and day. Has yet to score an interview.

I've told my wife that he needs to go but it falls on deaf ears. She doesn't have the heart to boot him.

I have yet to park my car in my own garage because their cars occupy it. And again, I am the sole contributor to the household budget.

I am finding money being taken from my account to pay for stuff as well. I've asked for it to stop, but to no avail.

I might be okay with this if I was getting sex or even meals, but I get neither. I make my own dinner and eat alone most nights. Her son never talks to me because he doesn't like me. The daughter texts me on Father's Day and my birthday. The son could give two cents about me.

I've acquired a lot of material things in the past 20 years and divorce is costly, I stand to lose nearly a lifetime of savings. I really feel like my back is against the wall on this. I hate to have to pay out through the nose if I leave but at the same time I find myself angry and I look for any excuse on the weekends just to disappear. I truly feel like I am living a lie and I find myself doing things solo.

I have told my wife that I am not happy with the situation (but never set it forth as an ultimatum) but it falls on deaf ears (excuse: I am trying... don't push me).

I am very resentful at this point and not sure how much more I can take. I saw a therapist years ago who listened to me but I don't think really gave me a solid direction to take (normally they let you decide that, but it didn't take). I know this situation is not healthy for me and I suspect some physical ailments I have can be attributed to this.

Any suggestions / help would be appreciated.

View related questions: divorce, money, text, video games

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (6 October 2018):

No one can say how your wife feels really, all comments are second guessing.

I can kind of see where she is coming from in that I felt guilty that my daughters dad left me when she was six months old and I think I have overcompensated. My boyfriend doesn't understand but unlike you it has come to a head after we have been together 18 months. To be fair she works but she almost certainly has come between us and it has been purposely done.

It comes across like you play second fiddle to your wife, her kids come first and boy don't they know it. Only you know how unhappy you really are and if you honestly feel you are being taken for a ride. My boyfriend thinks he comes second to my daughter but that is not the case at all, I just can't turn my back on her.

You have to honestly ask yourself if you feel you are being taken advantage of and if the answer is yes what are you going to do about it? Are you going to stay or are you going to leave and make a new life for yourself? The unknown is scary but do you want what you have for the rest of your life?

It seems you have good cause to walk away but only you know hand on heart if it is as bad as you portray. And I disagree with the you are their father comments, if they have a father and he is part of their life I don't think you become their parent automatically but regardless respect is a two way thing and again that seems none existent for reasons only you and they know

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (6 October 2018):

Since you are the easy-going kind of guy who hates confrontation; I do hope you will take my advice about getting yourself a financial-planner and preparing for retirement.

Your wife is slowly exhausting your financial resources; and you won't be able to care for yourself or her when retirement comes. If your bills are paid by automatic deduction; there is no reason for too much access, except for day-to-day small expenses. I wasn't suggesting that she be left penniless; just not have reckless or unregulated access to the bulk of your money, necessary for retirement savings and living expenses.

When you get old, who's going to take care of you?

As for the "sociopathic" stepson living in your house; I'd force your wife to make a choice. If she loved you, there would no cause to make choices. In fact, there would be no rift or deficit of love for that sort of matter to arise.

As Code Warrior says, she already made her choice. You're a resource and her means to financial-security. What do you get out of the marriage? Why doesn't your stepson go live with his biological father? Because they all have you.

Just get your finances in order, and make sure when you are old; you can enjoy the fruits of your labors. When you've devoted your life to being a good provider and caring for people, and they ungratefully suggest that isn't enough; there is no love there. Words uttered from the mouth come from the heart. You're not competing for love against her children, there should have been enough there to go around.

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A male reader, Code Warrior United States + , writes (6 October 2018):

Code Warrior agony auntYou say your wife tells you

"They aren't your children, so you wouldn't know how it feels" or "don't make me choose you over my children, I'll never forgive you for that"

If I was in your circumstance and my wife ever said something like that to me, I'd tell her that it's clear that she's already made that choice so fuck her and her forgiveness. That's a bullshit response on her part and I'd file for divorce and do everything in my power to leave her as small a settlement as possible. Oh, and since her kids are grown, you aren't required to pay anything for them. Let her live with the mess on her retirement income alone. If it could be arragned, I'd sell the house and split the proceeds. I'd try for that out of pure spite. Force her to find a new place to live. If she objected to selling the house and splitting the proceeds of the sale, then I'd negotiate her keeping the house, except for my tools and cars but having zero claim on any of my income, investments, or retirement funds, and she would be responsible for all house expenses from that point on, including any remaining mortgage, insurance, and property taxes.

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy + , writes (6 October 2018):

Anonymous 123 agony auntYour marriage has been a marriage of convenience for your wife because (a) you were never a priority; you were a god-sent option for her to not live life as a single mother and (b) while you were providing for everything and married to your wife, you were never accepted as the father of the children.

I don't think there was anything much for you in the deal.

Why did you stick it out for so long and what's keeping you in it even now? You know this cycle of exploitation will never stop, right? Absolutely nothing will change and given the fact that you admit to being a doormat, you can't stand up to anyone either.

I think it's either in or out now. Mid-way isn't going to work out unless you plan on re-posting this exact same question again 5-10 years from now.

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (6 October 2018):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntYou can’t be seen as a father figure, with any resulting respect or authority, if you didn’t act like one. Their father may be in their lives, but you were still their stepfather and should have behaved like one. It’s too late for that now because they have no connection with you and vice versa. It’s sad, really.

Anyway, you’re right; you are being used now because it’s habit. Either accept it or get a divorce.

Sorry, but I don’t believe it’s all on them; I think the lack of bonding when they were children has lead to the animosity and disregard for each other you’re suffering with. Same goes for your marriage - if you put as little effort into that as you did your “kindly uncle” relationship with the kids, then it’s no surprise you’re both miserable. You thought paying for them would help, but it didn’t create any love between you all because money isn’t enough..

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A reader, anonymous, writes (6 October 2018):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thanks for the responses.

Yes I will admit I am a doormat. This has been accumulating over the years. And to be honest I sort of knew this going in that my wife catered to the children's every whim. I just figured it would get better over time or eventually end. In short, I hate confrontation and the few times I have brought it up haven't really gone my way.

I always saw myself as the kindly uncle and not a stepfather. I took a back seat as far as raising them while the mother, who I think felt guilty over the divorce, indulged the daughter's every whim. Their father is in their lives. The father and I realize the boy has a serious mental health problem (I think he is a sociopath) and we both wanted as a family for him to get some sort of treatment. While he may be a bum, he isn't stealing from me. He just takes up space around the house and is an eyesore.

Anytime I've tried to bring it up I get the response of, "They aren't your children, so you wouldn't know how it feels" or "don't make me choose you over my children, I'll never forgive you for that"

I know I am being manipulated and taken advantage of. Every now and then the anger / disappointment comes out. I found a post from 4 years ago on here that I wrote and it was more or less the same situation. I just need to get my ducks in a row and either accept it or move on.

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy + , writes (6 October 2018):

Anonymous 123 agony auntI don't get it... You've been in these kids lives as long as they can remember and yet you blame your wife for what they've become? I'm sorry but this is just not possible. You're leaving out information conveniently. You also say that all this would be fine if you got sex and food but since you're not getting laid or fed, you're basically fed up!

No, no, no way. There is something else that you're not telling us. I don't know what but there is definitely something else.

While you've been married to your wife, you have not accepted her children as your own and their behaviour is a reflection of that. They are taking your for a ride because they can, because they have no respect for you and because they seem to have accepted that it's the done thing.

How were they like growing up and how did your wife and you deal with them? I think they miss a father figure in their lives and don't in any way consider you to be one. You're the guy who their mom is married to. There ends their relationship with you.

Do explain more in detail if you can because I'm very intrigued and I want to know where the missing pieces are!

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (5 October 2018):

Post script:

If your stepson steals money from your bank account or uses your credit-cards without permission; file charges.

Set-up protection on your bankcards to avert unauthorized use. A phone app from your bank will let you know by text alerts when the bankcard or credit cards are being used.

Designate street-parking for your son, and insist he move his car. He has nothing to do all-day; so you can ignore any bitching about it. Call him on your way home from work, and ask him to move his car. Clear your driveway, and put it on the street. If he insists on ignoring you, have it towed; or move it yourself. Park it around the block; so he has to walk if he wants to use it. He could use the exercise.

Don't worry about seeming like a monster. Once everyone knows you're serious, you can be yourself again. You need to grow a backbone; and whatever guilt you're sitting-on that makes you allow them take advantage of you. Resolve it!

If you don't have the nerve to use our advice; then hopefully some other reader will benefit from it.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (5 October 2018):

You're right, OP. They ARE your wife's children. She had them with another guy. Did you adopt them as yours? I sense you got roped into a package deal that you now regret. I don't think it's your fault entirely. It's tough stepping in and raising someone else's kids. Kudos to you for that. It's possible they never treated you like their father from the get go.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (5 October 2018):

Freeze all your bank accounts; and redirect the bulk of your paycheck to a new banking institution. You can minimize deposits to joint-accounts; and have the bulk of your income shifted to another.

Hire a financial-planner for advice and money-management. Have all your accounts setup for automatic-payment each month, taken from a separate personal-account.

The problem here is not your wife. It's you! Your wife is a user; and a sap for her children, who are also users.

You can't change people like that. Earlier in life, you programmed your wife and step-children to depend on you. You never cut the purse-strings; and you let your wife use you like an ATM machine. She can do whatever she pleases with her money. If that means she dips into your funds; it's only because you're a pushover who complains, but takes no action to correct the problem.

Pay what you normally pay, as far as the bills and household expenses go. You no longer should provide your wife income; because she has a problem with fiances. She supports her adult-children, as though she's a wealthy woman. From a pension? At this point, she figures you a well-established sucker.

You don't know how to back-up your words with action. You whine and complain, timidly. Instead of giving assertive and forthright notification when things have to change. You dont't have to ask for her permission. You bring suggestions to the table for discussion and negotiation. You try to compromise. When there is no compromise, you do what's best and fair. You should still help the children, but minimize their inheritance. You don't mention if you have children of your own. If you do, they should be your sole-beneficiaries; aside from your spouse. She is your wife, and entitled; unless you do decide to divorce her. Otherwise, everything can go to charity, and your chosen loved-ones.

You should only allow her minimal-access to your income; since she doesn't cooperate when it comes to working-out a combined-budgets. She ignores you. So you cut her off.

Sorry about the sex. Sir, you don't buy sex from your own wife like she's a hooker. If she doesn't want you; maybe it's because she didn't marry you out of love. She had two kids and needed a husband and father. More income. You don't describe her as a loving and affectionate woman. Just someone who goes through your money. You're her provider or benefactor.

Hopefully, you were never cruel to her, or a cheat. If you never showed her affection, aside from wanting sex. If you treated her kids like another man's children. Never showing them love or any affection. Which sometimes explains why some wives become distant, detached, and nothing much more than a house-mate. Counting-down the days until you die; to collect your life-insurance. Then her life begins.

So for now, you should cut-off the money-supply; until she has to break her own back financially. Maybe she'll decide to stop spoiling full-grown adults like they're still children.

Give your live-in step-son 90 days to find a job, or kick him out. Whether she agrees, or not. If she wants to go with him, or support him financially; allow her to. She'll just have to struggle like she did as a single-mother. Let's see how long she'll want to do that.

She's both a fool, and very inconsiderate. She no doubt married you for convenience. Sometimes, after many years in a marriage, people start to part emotionally. They live nearly separate lives. They merely live together like roommates. No love or intimacy, with minimal communication.

You came along when a single-mom needed financial-support, and a father for her kids. If she loved and cared for her husband, and appreciated his generosity; you wouldn't be writing a post seeking help. You permitted this to go on. Now after it has been a normal-routine in your life, you don't like it anymore. Out of spite for the lack of sex?

What happens to you is mainly what you allow to happen, sir!

Kindness and stupidity are not synonymous terms. You had many years to turn this around; but you just talked to the walls, or internalized your true feelings. When you realized your wife wasn't listening; that's when you should have taken matters into your own hands. You remedy the situation with a logical and reasonable solution.

Cut-off the money that she has access to. Have the money handled and managed through a professional; who will keep you on-course until retirement. You're not getting any younger. She's driving you to bankruptcy. She may also have mental-disability that makes her view her son and daughter as thought they are still children. That's not your issue to contend with. It's hers. Let her be stupid by herself. If you're healthy, you may have another 40 years to go. If you're not, maybe another 20 at the outside.

Freeze all accounts, seek legal advice, and hire a financial-planner. All the bills can be paid through automatic-transfer accounts. Open a bank account in your own name, and have your lawyer draw-up your final-will and testament. It's just a matter of reorganizing your finances.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (5 October 2018):

You and your wife should sit down together with the kids and tell them that it’s time for them to grow up. Put a lock on the garage to stop them parking there. Take the internet box with you when you go out, or change the password. Tell them that you will no longer pay for their mobile phones and terminate the contract. Make sure you and your wife don’t do chores for them, don’t cook them dinner or stock the fridge with food they like, don’t do their washing. Tell them that as long as they are living with you they need to start paying rent. Sit down with your wife’s son and make him make a cv. Then take him to a local shopping centre or somewhere where there might be jobs and insist that he goes door to door dropping cvs off. Explain to your wife how you feel and that the situation can’t continue. Tell your wife that you will not pay for the kids now that they are adults. If you think your relationship could be salvaged if the kids moved out then seek relationship counselling. If not, then get your accounts in order and seek a divorce. Good luck

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A female reader, mystiquek United States + , writes (5 October 2018):

mystiquek agony auntOP, please do not be offended but you are what is called a marshmallow, or a doormat. You are letting everyone walk all over you, push you around and not doing anything about it. My father was this way, bless his heart. My mother walked all over him and he let her. It was a very sad 53 years of marriage for him but we could not convince him to walk away. Don't be that way!!!!

Man up. Its one thing to be a nice person and not want conflict but its another thing to let everyone use you! I do agree with everyone that if you raised those 2 kids for 21 years you simply cannot blame everything on their mom. You were right there too OP so be accountable. You must have spoiled them rotten, let them get away with things and now they still think they can do it.

Make some boundaries. Get your thoughts together, write it all down what you want to say and have "THE TALK". If possible, I'd have with everyone at the same time. Tell them that you are tired of what is going on and you aren't going to take it anymore. Give your wife an allowance and tell her to go get a job if she wants to support the kids, but the gravy train has stopped and you will not be supporting them anymore. Take back your garage. Tell the son he has 30 days to get a job and start contributing to the household or get old. BE FIRM OP! Don't be wishy washy. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Again, OP you must take responsibility. YOU let them treat you this way all these years. If your wife throws a hissy, already be prepared to say "I can't live this way and if it doesn't change, I'm out." MEAN IT or don't say it. Don't make idle threats. Let them know you are sick and tired of what is happening and you aren't going to take it any longer.

OP you have to help yourself. My parents were married for 53 years and although I know my dad loved my mother and he absolutely hated confrontations, she really pushed him around and he just took it all. He was so unhappy the later years of his life. He died a few years ago and even on the day he died my sister told me my mother wasn't kind to him and some of the last words he spoke were "Why are you so mean to me?" to my mother. I'm glad I didn't hear that because it just breaks my heart thinking of it and I wouldn't have been able to bear it had I witnessed it myself. Don't live that life ok??? Life is so very short to be unhappy....

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (5 October 2018):

Get out while you can and while you relatively still have a few years left ahead of you because this situation can only get worse, before you get too old and frail to conteplate being able to live alone. Sit with your wife and explain everything to her and ask her you want out. Don't kid yourself,those kids are not your kids. They have a biological father out there somewhere. Don't accept any compromise or half solutions. Leave and let those bums to go and fend for themselves and learn to take responsibility of their lives. You weren't born to be anyones slave. Get out start anew while you still have the time. Your wife has her pension to support her and you did your deed by bringing those kids up and now it is time they start looking after themselves. In fact they should have done that ten years ago. Good luck.

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (5 October 2018):

Ciar agony auntAs long as you're relying on people with a long history of doing the wrong thing to suddenly start doing the right thing, nothing will change. They benefit from the status quo.

My advice is you quietly start getting your ducks in a row.

Open a new account and start putting small amounts of money into it. Yes, it is marital property and will be factored in during a divorce but it's fund she can't access now.

Get a safe deposit box, and if I'm right, it doesn't even have to be at your branch or bank. Gather up all important documents and store them there.

If your email account is not secure, then secure it (by changing passwords and security questions to things no one can figure) or set up a new one. Jot down a list of questions to ask an attorney. You need to know EXACTLY what you're rights and responsibilities are, instead of some vague notion of being cleaned out.

In this secret email account you could also store evidence or the types of things you've been describing. Dates, times, places, the names of anyone who was present when they occurred. Create a paper trail to show that you've been supporting bums (your wife included).

I would caution against any open confrontation or ultimatum at this time until you've taken these steps and spoken to an attorney. Better to be fully armed and stick to your guns than have it all fizzle out when you bluff and lose your nerve. And you don't want anyone interfering with your efforts until you're in a stronger position.

Finally, never mind finding a therapist. They cost money, they keep records of everything said and it could be used in court as evidence of some imagined instability on your part. Not to mention it's counter productive as it keeps you dwelling in the past. You'll gain more insight into why you did the things you did when you're no longer doing them. It's a 'can't see the forest for the trees' situation. You need to move FORWARD not backward.

Remember that you're committing to nothing here. You're not obligated to get a divorce, but when it comes to evidence, financial security knowledge, better to have and not need than need and not have. Learning and DOING will empower you and you might find that you become strong and confident enough to implement changes without having to divorce.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (5 October 2018):

Honeypie agony auntWow you have been there to RAISE these kids for 21 years and you call then YOUR wife's kids? What kind of man are you?

While I FULLY agree that you should NOT have to pay for grown ASS adult kids (regardless of who fathered them) I think you need to take a little responsibility here too. This isn't ALL your wife's fault that the son is a leech.

CUT the internet at home. Or have a password on the wifi that ONLY you know. (we do this with our teens when their rooms are just too horrible and they are full of excuses, well then the wifi goes down and not back up until they have done what they are supposed to do of chores.) And it works....

YOU have an adult who is ALLOWED to sit on his ass and GAME all day. No. Just no. Just cut the internet while you are at work.

That way HE has PLENTY of time to go down to unemployment office and fill out his resume and look at job offers. MY 18 year old did this and is now working 25 hours a week until she starts her first semester of college. and she will probably still work some hours the first year or two IF she can handle it with the school work load.

A job is NOT going to come knock on his door.

Secondly sit your wife down and INFORM her, that UNLESS he gets a job he has 30 days to find a place to live, and then you MAKE good of that "threat" and fill out an eviction notice. My brother in law had to do this with his new wife's son and GF who moved in with then supposedly for a couple of weeks while looking for a new place to rent... and then they stayed for over 10 months now, not paying rent, cleaning up after themselves, nothing... both are in their mid-20's.

If your wife isn't working give her a monthly allowance. If she spends that on her son... that is on her.

If you are the only one with an income, don't let her be in charge of the money.

DO consider seeing a lawyer. Staying married because you might LOSE some MATERIAL assets... it's just not sound. Since both kids are now ADULTS you will NOW be responsible for them financially, but... you might be partially responsible for her at least for a duration of 1-2 years. Since she has a retirement and gets a pension she HAS an income.

As for the son parking in the garage, tell him NO you park HERE (show him where) and I park in my garage.

YOU have to take some responsibility here, and some ACTUAL action. Right now all you are doing is pissing in the wind.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (5 October 2018):

You didn't mention once that you love your wife or even one thing positive about her and it seems you should not be married simply because of that !

The rest is all white noise

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (5 October 2018):

A combination of further therapy and immediate. practical action will help, but ultimately this is going to boil down to you being a. courageous in forming a better life for yourself and b. developing new habits to support your new way of life and make it feel less scary.

First, find a good therapist to help you to understand why you have been so willing to position yourself as doormat to be walked over and used, disrespected in almost every sense. Is there an earlier childhood experience that made you feel worthless, or that you had to do all the giving? How were you positioned in your own family? Did that position somehow pave the way for you developing the situation you are in now?

Secondly, get your head around the idea that YOU allowed this to happen by allowing other people to dictate to you the terms under which you would live. It might seem like they are the one;s controlling you, but actually, as soon as you realise you are ALLOWING them to control you (and the more you understand why, with the help of a therapist) the more you will see that, bit by bit, you can create new patterns and a new life structure for yourself.

Thirdly,see a lawyer now and explain the situation to him or her. It will be VERY important that you keep a detailed record of exactly how you are supporting this extended family but it will also be important to have a record of how you have tried to ask for fairness from your wife and how this has been refused - a judge will only support your views if he/she can see that you have acted reasonably, not only by giving extremely generous financial support but also by at least trying to reason with the people involved, so that they are more considerate of you. Written documents - emails to your wife and step-kids, and photographs (their cars in your garage) are the kind of thing that will become important, particularly bank statements etc. A lawyer will be able to advise you on how to best protect your interests well ahead of starting divorce proceedings, so that by the time you do start them, you are well positioned not to lose everything.

Fourthly, after doing the above, start to make changes and document how you make them. Make written requests that your step-children stop leaving their cars in your garage, giving a notice period for when you want them removed. If they don't remove them, follow this up by having them removed by a towing company and make them aware that this is what you will do.

Email or write to your wife stating that she no longer will have access to your bank account, due to funds being withdrawn without your permission. Change the security / access to your bank account so that you are in control of your funds.

Email or write to your wife and step-kids stating that you will no longer support her children financially and that financial support is being withdrawn at"X" time (whatever time you think is reasonable for them to make other arrangements. Ensure that they know that they have to make other arrangements. Regarding your wife, state that you will transfer a monthly amount to her to live on, and that this is what you consider reasonable. A lawyer can, if necessary, help you to come up with an amount. This should be the only money you give to her at this point.

The situation with your step-son may be more complicated, depending on whether your wife has a claim to the house as partly hers; if so, she can probably allow him to stay on. This is something a lawyer can help with.

Once you have control of these kind of issues, which can be put in place fairly quickly, work on developing new patterns for yourself. With the help of a therapist, look into your past but also look into how you can develop your future. A LOT of therapists go over and over the past but are not so good at providing ideas for ways forward, or for supporting this. I think therapists can be very helpful for understanding past mistakes, but, personally, I don't think they are so good at helping you to structure your future, unless you yourself direct this and make it part of the conversation.

What I personally find is that developing new routines that involve pleasure, new challenges and meeting new people all work wonders, but you have to try to stick to them and forgive yourself if you don't and then return to them again. Exercise is the most fantastic 'anti-depressant' I have found - this could be the basis of your new routine and you could do this alone or join a team or group, even a walking group or a golf club or whatever.

You sound to me like someone who finds it easier to forego your own pleasures rather than insist on them and develop them. I would bear this in mind and realise that you may be one of those people who has to almost 'artificially' structure in pleasurable things into your life, until they become normal and natural for you. Holidays are a more obvious thing that you can structure in - can you structure in a holiday, even with a touring group or 'adventure' type holiday? I've known older married men to do this before, in groups where couples andother single people all go on holiday together. Companies like Travelbag are good for this.

In every day life, think of other leisure activities that may feel like 'mini-holidays' - even for an hour or half an hour. A walk in an interesting location, a movie, volunteer work helping to make furniture or sort out gardens for people in need - you sound like a very kind, giving person, and maybe that will never change in terms of being your 'core', but you could learn to direct your giving to places where it is appreciated and rewarded, rather than abused. Doing volunteer work may not sound appealing when you are feeling so low and used right now, but it will help you to forge new relationships and your care and skills will feel infinitely more appreciated. It may even lead to a new relationship, should you get a divorce.

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (5 October 2018):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntI’m with BimBim, but I would add that if you have raised them since they were three and five, you are more or less their parent too. They are not her kids, just because you don’t like how you both raised them.

You also want payment from her in meals and sex. Why are you together? It doesn’t sound like either of you are in a particularly decent marriage. You even say you’re together mostly because you don’t complain. That’s not what marriage is about, OP.

Your marriage is costly, so divorce isn’t that different.

Not being funny, OP, but those are YOUR kids too. If you’ve raised them and treated them like they’re not your kids (when you’re the only father figure they know), you’re part of what caused this problem. They’re distant because you’ve been distant: “the son”, “the daughter”. YOUR stepson. YOUR stepdaughter. Perhaps consider building bridges, if it’s not too late, whilst also cutting off your wife’s access to your money and their access to your garage.

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A female reader, Aunty BimBim Australia + , writes (5 October 2018):

Aunty BimBim agony auntSplit your bank accounts with only you having access to your wages etc.Sit down with your wife, go through the household budget and split most of them 50/50. Tell her if she wants to support her adult children that's up to her, but you are not doing it any longer.

Install a gate across the garage with a padlock, tell the freeloaders to go get their own garages or park on the verge. Tell them straight up their free loading days are over.

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