To Top

Ask Rene: My Stepson Is Driving A Wedge Between My Husband And Me!

Hi Rene:

My husband and I have been married for five years (second marriage for both of us) and have extremely active, two and three-year old girls. We both work full-time and have adult children. One of them, my 23-year-old stepson, lives with us.

I’ve paid to bail him out of jail, for his community service and his fines. He wears his pants sagging with underwear showing, which I feel is disrespectful to the girls and me. He doesn’t work or attend school, is often rude to me and to say he’s lazy is an understatement. The only chore I’ve assigned is mopping once a week, which he does once every four months (guess who gets the pleasure the rest of the time).

Every time I’ve tried to talk to my husband about these issues (for years now) we get into an argument. He says his son is grown and there’s nothing he can do about it. Last week my husband and I switched cell phone providers (of course I pay this bill). My stepson got the free phone and my husband and I got smart phones. I didn’t like mine and decided to exchange it my husband says that his son suggested that we swap phones and that he agreed. When I said no, an extended petty argument with hubby ensued. We kissed and made up, as we always do pretty quickly afterwards. But when I woke up the next morning I had the overwhelming desire to pack up the girls and leave…

I love my husband and want to work this out, but I’m feed up! Please advise
Weary Step-mother


Dear Weary Stepmother:

I wonder if you heard that huge sigh I just let out. Listen before I go any further, I need you to understand I am not a professional counselor, merely a wife and mother with an opinion and a common sense approach to parenting. Now that we are clear on that, I am going to tell you what I would do and though many won’t agree with me, I have to say it. Make a plan to leave. Here’s why.

YOUR HUSBAND IS NOT TAKING YOU SERIOUSLY: Ugh I hate this. I hate this because telling your husband that something is wrong should be proof enough that it needs to be fixed. But we all know actions speak louder than words and your husband’s actions are not those of someone who promises to love and cherish his wife. Some people only respond when the bit is pulled back so if this is what it takes to get his attention then you’re going to have to do it. I am not advocating idle threats; those will get you nowhere. You are going to have to follow through. But first, talk to your husband. Suggest you see a marriage counselor and see where that gets you. If that is a dead end, then you can implement the plan you already have in place.

YOU DESERVE BETTER: You deserve to be listened to, to have your concerns addressed and to be treated better, by EVERYONE including your stepson. He needs to obey the rules of YOUR house. The problem is, when your husband doesn’t back you up, he is sending a message to your stepson that you (and what you say) are not  important and that he can do whatever he damn well pleases. That is not good and it needs to stop. Now.

BOTH YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND NEED TO CRACK DOWN: Okay, what the hell does your husband mean when he says, his son is grown and he can’t do anything about it? Is he KIDDING? Who’s in charge over there? Who’s paying the bills? Of course he can do something about it. He can kick his son and his saggy-pants-wearing behind out on the street. Or to live with his mother. Or a cousin. Or a friend. But if you feel your stepson being disrespectful because of his attire, your husband needs to do something about that. And while your husband is having that conversation with him about expectations and rules, go ahead and slide a chore chart in the young man’s direction. If he’s living there rent free, he has to do something and it’s got to be more than mopping the floor three times a year. By the way, this right here, “I’ve paid to bail him out of jail, for his community service and his fines.” You and your husband need to get serious about this because not only is this dude freeloading, he’s setting a terrible example for two little girls who are watching his every move.

Weary Stepmother, you have some tough decisions to make, beginning with what you want out of this relationship. I’m presuming the goal is to get your husband’s attention so you can adequately address this and move on. Something needs to be done, unless you’re okay with being treated like a second-class citizen in your own home. But you’re not or else you wouldn’t have written in. Time to make some tough decisions that might be followed by even tougher actions.

Good luck!

Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away!



  1. martha vancamp

    September 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Oh I totally agree with Rene. I am a mother of 7 children—-a blended family. 4 kids are my husbands and 3 are mine. We have sole custody of ALL and while they are younger than the son you are talking about (ages 17 and younger), I just have to say that it appears your husband has more respect/care for his son than he does you.

    The MAN (your step-son) is 23. Surely he has the mental and physical abilities to be independent. Right? Instead, he’s being babied.

    My husband and I have had therapy in order to help the entire blending process (key word “help”) and I distinctly remember the therapist telling me “you are not responsible for the success or failure of his children.” I tell you that to say this—YOU are not responsible for this 23 year old man that is living with you.

    Write down what you want from your marriage. Then, as Rene said, get counseling quick! The two of you need a 3rd party to work this out calmly.

    YOU DESERVE BETTER!! Don’t accept the excuses or laziness. Take a step (counseling) to do something about it and if it doesn’t change, then make that plan to leave.

    Best of luck!!!

  2. Katie

    September 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I have to say I agree 100%.
    I wouldn’t tolerate this from my own biological child…

    I’m in a second marriage & although my new spouse and I won’t be having children together (I have 5 + 1 grandchild… I’m done & he knew that from the get-go)… I do respect when he makes a request of the younger kids, when they are in our home. I may not always agree with him, and I will (privately) tell him why & explain what I may have done differently, but I won’t disrespect him in front of my children.

  3. Reggie Swift

    September 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Stop the insanity today. He is 23 and he needs to grow up. If your husband is not man enough to choose you first then you don’t have a husband and the 3 of you should be roommates.

  4. Jennifer

    September 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Your husband sounds like he has a passive-aggressive personality disorder. I agree with Rene 100 percent. Get to counseling right away and if that doesn’t work, inform the father and son duo that you’re done. I was going to say ‘give your notice and take the girls and leave’ but why should you have to leave?. At the very least, your husband is risking losing everything and he has everything to lose in this situation.

    Enough of this bullshyte. And the 23 year old? Until he starts paying his way and making a concerted, genuine, sincere effort, and give you the respect you and the little girls deserve, he needs to get out. Change the locks if you have to. Take away the cell phone that YOU PAY FOR and stop paying his way. Make living with you a nightmare. Don’t cook or clean or do any laundry for anyone but you and the girls. And the husband? If he doesn’t like it? He and the 23 year old should leave together and go find a place to mess up and make dirty.

    I’m concerned that YOU had to pay to bail him out of jail. He must have done something terrible to warrant getting his dumb a$$ arrrested. Where was daddy and why wasn’t he around to bail his own son out? And whatever he did, do you really want your daughters around this guy?

    This is unacceptable.

  5. Lamar @

    October 1, 2011 at 10:41 am

    You guys definitely need to seek the hep of a professional who can be the outsider looking in and provide guidance from a different POV. Perhaps that will allow your husband to realize that he’s tripping and that his old arse son needs to get kicked out. At the same time hopefully it will allow him to see how serious this issue is to you.

    Your kids (especially in a blended family situation) can not see you separate especially when it comes to discipline and parenting them. Without showing a united front they will try to exploit every crack and crevice until they have their way which often ends with the loss of your marriage.

    I’m hoping that your husband comes around and realizes the responsibility he has to love and protect you, even from his own kids and that you’re able to work this out. Praying for you, your family and your marriage. -Lamar

  6. m.e. johnson

    October 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Agree 200%, Rene. Plus they are doing the son a grievous disservice by not teaching independence. We all know how great that feels. When he buys his first whatever with his own earned money he will feel gratitude whether he says it to them or not. When he pulls his pants up and gets admiring glances, he will keep them up.

    There is a saying: “Unrewarded behavior is not repeated.” Just be sure that your idea of a reward is the same as his. For instance you think sending a child to his room is punishment but it’s exactly what he likes (but has never told you).

    I wish this lady lots of luck. She’s gonna need it.

  7. Gloria Lintermans

    October 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Click on, the Stepfamily Blog, for answers to the many step and blended family problems.

  8. authorkckuma

    October 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    WOW He is no longer a child. He’s a grown man. He needs to go. I do not tell anyone to leave their husband or wife that is a decision only you can make. I do however believe that you have taught both these men how to treat you and now you have to teach them something different.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Ask Rene

Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

Copyright © 2014 Good Enough Mother® Designed By ABlackWebDesign