Ask Amy: Ex-husband exhausted by ex's drama
By Amy Dickinson
Tribune Media Services
Posted: 02/03/2013 12:01:00 AM PST
DEAR AMY: I had my last drink one year ago. Since then, my life has been transformed. In the process, I have been divorced, met a beautiful woman and gotten engaged. We are now expecting a baby.
My ex-wife has not fared so well. Her drinking has spiraled out of control. She has been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. After getting arrested, she called me to bail her out because she was "too embarrassed" to call her father. The next day, she drank heavily and called saying that she was going to commit suicide. I jumped to the rescue, calling friends that were near her so that she would not have a chance to succeed.
She was placed in the psych ward of the hospital. Her dad took her out before any therapy could start. She said she was unwilling to be "stuck in the nut hut" because there is nothing wrong with her.
The drama has increased. She still controls parts of my life through emotional blackmail and guilt. I was not the best husband, but how much do I have to do to make amends for that?
Stuck in Her Wake
DEAR STUCK: You are not helping your ex-wife by rescuing her into the control of family members who enable her to keep drinking. You help her the most by offering to support her only in sobriety.
The next time she calls you from jail, you should leave her there rather than release her to resume her drinking.
She needs rehab, and she might receive it only if forced by the court.
Her life is on a dangerous downward spiral. The message you should send to her is, "I care about you. I'm terrified for you. But I will only support your efforts to get clean. When you are ready to get sober, I'll take your call."
This is the toughest part of tough love.
DEAR AMY: When I was 17, I had a baby. My parents adopted my child, "Barry," and I moved on and married when he was 2.
My parents are now deceased. Barry knows the truth. He has two children and considers me to be their grandmother.
I send cards with money on minor holidays, and I send more gifts and money on birthdays and Christmas.
None of these gifts is acknowledged. I never even got a call from them on Christmas.
Should I scale it down?
Should I scale it down?
My husband says to cut it back and just send a few things on Christmas and birthdays. Barry does not have much money, and we are fixed pretty well, but we have three kids and three other grandkids.
Should I say something to him about the lack of acknowledgment?
My brother says guilt is driving me to do all of this gift-giving. Amy, what do you think?
DEAR UNSURE: I agree with your brother. You cannot purchase a healthy relationship; you need to scale this back dramatically. You should let Barry know that you have started a college fund for his children; beyond that, you should give the kids one gift each on their birthdays and Christmas and all of the love, affection and attention that you can spare.