No Thank You to Spam; and Throw The Bum Out!
Dear Dr. Hurd,
My partner’s sister holds political views that are exactly the opposite of ours. This or that party is not the issue here; the issue is that she forwards to us each and every email she receives, many of which are fabrications and untruths. We are apparently on some big forwarding list of hers. My partner won’t confront her, and tells me, “Just delete them,” but it seems to me that I shouldn’t even have to do that. What to do?
Dr. Hurd replies,
A relative of mine once wrote a note about this to another relative. “Dear Uncle So and So: I love you and want to stay in touch with you. I enjoy the things we talk about, other than politics. We’re never going to convince each other about most of these issues. Can we please refrain from sending each other anything political? All other contact is welcome.”
This is one alternative to just hitting delete. Frankly, I don’t suggest making a bigger issue out of it. I’m sure you get daily junk email that you routinely delete. The same applies here, except it’s somebody I assume you care about. Whether you do or not, it is your partner’s sister, and you care about your partner, and she cares about her sister. So you owe it to your partner, and ultimately yourself, to limit your angst over this.
I do agree this is obnoxious behavior. It’s presumptuous and even insulting to send people information that you know they’ll find offensive. Maybe you just want your partner to admit it’s wrong, but don’t expect her to confront her sister. It’s not going to solve anything. And her sister will know that you pressured her into it.
A lot of people have an unhealthy need for validation. They hold certain views, but they’re not comfortable with these views unless they get affirmation from others. They also like to intimidate. I’ve seen this from everywhere on the political spectrum.
Then there are those who like to stir the pot. They’re bored with some aspect of their lives, and they find it entertaining to send things they know will be provocative. Try to see this as the other person’s problem, not yours. By reacting too strongly, you might be giving her exactly what she wants.
Dear Dr. Hurd,
My partner and I finally got out of the rat race and moved here to Rehoboth. We’re both in our 60s, and have been together for almost 30 years. My partner’s son, who is 35, recently lost his job. He never really had much good to say about my relationship with his father, but now that we live here at the beach, he is all of a sudden (surprise, surprise), quite willing to mooch off of us.
He makes no real attempts to find a job, and lays the occasional guilt trip on his father that his “gayness” broke up the family—30 years ago. I don’t feel I have to put up with this 35-year-old leech and the control he has over his father. Is there a tactful way to make this work?
Dr. Hurd replies,
I see this all the time. For the parent of the moocher, it almost always boils down to guilt. Your son-in-law plays that card well. Is guilt motivating your partner? I don’t know. There could be other reasons he tolerates his son. One thing is for sure: Your job is to find out what that motivation is. What is he getting out of having his son there? I promise you, it’s something.
It’s not enough to just complain about this. Your partner probably doesn’t see him as a mooch. To some parents, their children are forever babies. They never make the transition to viewing their offspring as self-responsible adults.
You’re right to be frustrated, but resist the urge to bypass what I’m suggesting and go straight to anger. Your partner is important to you, and like it or not, his son is important to him.
Suggest a compromise. You want the “kid” out yesterday. Your partner wants him out…sometime. Ask your partner to set a deadline and to work with you to enforce it. If he refuses to compromise, he’s telling you that your concerns about your living space do not matter. He is putting his son before your relationship. Is that right for grown adults to do? Absolutely not. But many do it, and if it bothers you that much you have to face the possibility of alternative living arrangements.
You might also tell your loved one this: “I know you love your son and you think you’re being a good father. But what kind of respect is he showing you? And how is it improving him to live off of you and blame others rather than taking charge of his life?” Sadly, your partner feels like he’s being a good father, but he’s not. He’s keeping his son down, and in the process, harming his relationship with you.
Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist, life coach, and author. His office can be reached at 302-227-2829. Email your questions or comments to Dr Hurd.