Author Topic: Will you be around this afternoon?  (Read 12681 times)

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cwm

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #45 on: June 17, 2013, 02:13:03 PM »
I'm going to come at this from a slightly different angle. I don't think you can change Rob's behavior, nor can you expect to change Michelle and expect her to change Rob. Your DH is at least recognizing that what Rob is doing is hurtful, but is having a hard time setting boundaries, so ask him if you could help take some of that out of his hands.

So say in a few weeks Rob texts you and says he's in town and would it be okay if he stopped by? Before DH responds, ask him when he was planning on being home to begin with. Have him text Rob (or better yet, call Rob) and tell him that you'll be home during those times and then YOU take his phone. That way he's not constantly texting Rob and updating him as to what's going on, he's not on edge about whether or not he's heard anything back, it's out of his hands. If you're not home when Rob and Michelle stop by, then you're not home, but the expectation was set early. Then afterwards, reach out to Rob or Michelle and say that you're sorry you missed them, but you had other things going on but you'd love to see them another time.

bopper

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #46 on: June 17, 2013, 02:20:09 PM »
Ahh..the Prodigal Son.

GreenBird

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #47 on: June 17, 2013, 02:25:22 PM »
Previous posters have tons of good advice.  I think I'd recommend that you and DH send all texts and emails to both Rob and Michelle from now on since they're a social unit.  This way if it's a communication or planning issue, you've done what you can to alleviate that. 

Also, I think it would be good to invite Rob and Michelle to specific events at specific times with a specific deadline for a yes/no answer - it means DH is doing some initiating, without leaving himself hanging indefinitely.  Once the yes/no deadline has passed, know that "no answer" means that the answer is "no". 

On the last minute drive-bys, I think your DH needs to reply to Rob & Michelle saying "Love to see you - we'll be home from 2-4, please let me know if you'll be able to come by".  Don't change your schedule, don't sit and wait, just let them know your availability and then go on with your day.  There may be drive-by days when you don't have any availability and that's fine.  (Difficult, I know, but there's nothing to be gained by tying yourself into a knot for a 'maybe'.)  In those cases, I'd reply "Would have loved to see you!  But we're already headed out for the afternoon.  Hopefully next time."

Also, DH should make sure he's also initiating things with his other sons.  Don't ever ignore them in order to wait for one of Rob's maybe-visits.  It might be frustrating for them to watch DH twist himself into knots for Rob when they're actually present in DH's life.  Be sure they know they're appreciated. 


Maybe Rob's just inconsiderate, maybe he's getting some perverse pleasure out of leaving his dad hanging, maybe he just operates this way because it's worked fine for him all this time - it's not like there have been any negative consequences to him for behaving like this.  If DH stops hanging and waiting, maybe Rob will change how he acts.  Maybe he'll realize he needs to plan ahead, just like he would with any other person in the world.  Or maybe Michelle will start including DH in the schedule.  But even if Rob changes nothing, at least your DH won't be making himself crazy by waiting, and that would be a very worthwhile change. 

Coley

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #48 on: June 17, 2013, 02:29:20 PM »
It sounds to me like Rob really doesn't want to spend time with you or your DH but just doesn't want to come out and say it. I will say having been in a position where there was pressure to visit my father even though I didn't want to it is a really hard place to be. I put on a good show while I was visiting, but I did try to avoid it. It was miserable for me. OP, from what you have updated, it seams that Rob and Michelle are closer to his mom and Step-dad. Even though in my head I understand that the mature thing to do would be to tell your father you didn't really want to spend time with him, that is much easier said than done. I can't tell you the amount of judgement people get when they dare express that they don't want to spend time with a parent.

I'm not saying that you DH had done anything wrong, but there may be some discomfort on Rob's side that he doesn't know how to express or feels that he will be attacked for his perception.

How long has it been since his parent's divorce? Who did he live with? Is he the oldest? Just because his brothers were able to shift their actions doesn't mean that Rob feels the same way they do, He may be too lazy to commit or might have other feelings that are in the way.

I believe Rob was 19 or so when DH and his ex split up. He was in college at the time, so he was living on campus in OurCity. Shawn and Joe stayed with their mother in the family home. DH moved out to a small apartment. He didn't have room in the apartment for the boys to stay. A tremendous point of sadness for DH is that even though they all lived in OurCity, he wasn't as able to spend time with them as he had been before the divorce. There were multiple reasons for this, but the main one was the stipulations in the divorce decree. He was required in the decree to maintain the mortgage payments on the house, pay child support, and pay 2/3 of the college expenses for all three boys. Very quickly it was obvious that he couldn't keep up financially, and he had to get more jobs to meet those obligations. When I met him 7 years ago, he was working four jobs. A small apartment and a very old car were the best he could do for himself. He was paying car insurance, college, car payments, mortgage, monthly child support, and all sorts of other costs to support the boys. I have never seen anyone as overextended as DH was. The boys have gotten older and finished college, so those expenses have now dropped off. DH (and I) have a more comfortable lifestyle than we did when we first were together.

Joe had the hardest emotional hit at the time of the divorce. He also is the most aware of what DH was sacrificing in order to meet the financial obligations in the divorce decree because he saw more of it firsthand than Rob and Shawn. Still, I'm not sure whether Joe completely understands how much DH had to do put him through college. Shawn has come to see why DH did what he did at that time. There don't seem to be hard feelings toward DH, but I do think Shawn has some residual "stuff" from observing his parents' relationship when they were together. Rob is the tougher nut. Before DH and I were married, he would give DH a very hard time about driving those "old beater" cars and living in small, crummy apartments. I heard him question DH about it on many occasions. DH gave evasive responses because he didn't want any of the boys to feel bad about the sacrifices he was making to support them, and he didn't want to badmouth their mother. Where we used to have more frequent visits with Rob where he would pick at DH, we now have fewer visits with Rob and less picking.

Ellebelle, to answer your most recent post, to my knowledge DH and Rob's relationship was mostly positive before the divorce. DH was the model dad: soccer coach, heavily involved, and highly participatory. I am aware of only one significant issue between them when Rob was a teenager, but that was way before the divorce and it also involved Rob's mother. As I say above, the participatory nature of DH's relationship with the boys changed mostly for Shawn and Joe after the divorce because they were still at home. Rob wasn't, so that end of things wouldn't have affected him directly. DH has wondered off and on if Rob believes DH abandoned his mother, but he isn't sure. That isn't what happened though.

I just remembered this ... After DH had his heart-to-heart with the boys a few years ago, we noticed that Rob started doing some PA things. For example, let's say we were supposed to meet the boys for lunch somewhere. If we weren't at the restaurant first, Rob would start texting DH to ask where we were. The answer was as simple as we were parking the car and would be in the restaurant in two minutes. Even after DH replied to Rob's text, Rob would keep texting. It happened over enough get-togethers that it was an annoyance. It felt like an attempt on Rob's part to try to make a point that we were holding him up. DH never said anything to Rob about it, and it stopped after Rob and Michelle started seeing each other.

Coley

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #49 on: June 17, 2013, 02:30:17 PM »
I'm going to come at this from a slightly different angle. I don't think you can change Rob's behavior, nor can you expect to change Michelle and expect her to change Rob. Your DH is at least recognizing that what Rob is doing is hurtful, but is having a hard time setting boundaries, so ask him if you could help take some of that out of his hands.

So say in a few weeks Rob texts you and says he's in town and would it be okay if he stopped by? Before DH responds, ask him when he was planning on being home to begin with. Have him text Rob (or better yet, call Rob) and tell him that you'll be home during those times and then YOU take his phone. That way he's not constantly texting Rob and updating him as to what's going on, he's not on edge about whether or not he's heard anything back, it's out of his hands. If you're not home when Rob and Michelle stop by, then you're not home, but the expectation was set early. Then afterwards, reach out to Rob or Michelle and say that you're sorry you missed them, but you had other things going on but you'd love to see them another time.

I like this idea. Thank you.

Coley

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #50 on: June 17, 2013, 02:36:23 PM »
Previous posters have tons of good advice.  I think I'd recommend that you and DH send all texts and emails to both Rob and Michelle from now on since they're a social unit.  This way if it's a communication or planning issue, you've done what you can to alleviate that. 

Also, I think it would be good to invite Rob and Michelle to specific events at specific times with a specific deadline for a yes/no answer - it means DH is doing some initiating, without leaving himself hanging indefinitely.  Once the yes/no deadline has passed, know that "no answer" means that the answer is "no". 

On the last minute drive-bys, I think your DH needs to reply to Rob & Michelle saying "Love to see you - we'll be home from 2-4, please let me know if you'll be able to come by".  Don't change your schedule, don't sit and wait, just let them know your availability and then go on with your day.  There may be drive-by days when you don't have any availability and that's fine.  (Difficult, I know, but there's nothing to be gained by tying yourself into a knot for a 'maybe'.)  In those cases, I'd reply "Would have loved to see you!  But we're already headed out for the afternoon.  Hopefully next time."

Also, DH should make sure he's also initiating things with his other sons.  Don't ever ignore them in order to wait for one of Rob's maybe-visits.  It might be frustrating for them to watch DH twist himself into knots for Rob when they're actually present in DH's life.  Be sure they know they're appreciated. 


Maybe Rob's just inconsiderate, maybe he's getting some perverse pleasure out of leaving his dad hanging, maybe he just operates this way because it's worked fine for him all this time - it's not like there have been any negative consequences to him for behaving like this.  If DH stops hanging and waiting, maybe Rob will change how he acts.  Maybe he'll realize he needs to plan ahead, just like he would with any other person in the world.  Or maybe Michelle will start including DH in the schedule.  But even if Rob changes nothing, at least your DH won't be making himself crazy by waiting, and that would be a very worthwhile change.

Yes, it's hard to say how Rob will react to a change in DH's behavior. Maybe he'll make some changes, or maybe he won't. But you're right that this makes DH crazy (and me by extension). Anything we can do to alleviate that would be good.

TootsNYC

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #51 on: June 17, 2013, 02:48:45 PM »
Something to ponder:

Maybe when your DH stops expecting Rob to be a different person--stops hanging on for handouts, etc., because it's coming through, definitely--Rob might find it easier to drop by when he says he will, etc.

If Rob always lives with the pressure of expectations he can't quite meet, he may be avoiding the whole thing.

Kind of like this:
http://www.someecards.com/flirting-cards/flirting-last-minute-dating-desperate-funny-ecard

Because your DH is always available, and holds the availability open, he comes across as needy, desperate, wanting more and more from Rob. And if Rob isn't sure he wants to give, or if he just doesn't want to be that close, then he'll avoid.

So it's possible that if his dad starts blowing him off a little bit, or at least not coming across as desperate, Rob might actually step in a little closer on his own.

And even if that doesn't happen--everybody will be happier. Rob won't be pressured to be somebody he isn't, and your DH will be able to find a way to be content with what he *does* have.

There's a Buddhist tenet that says, "to achieve happiness, you have to remove 'want' or desire." That the wanting of things is what creates unhappiness.

And your DH wants Rob's attention. If he can lessen that "want," he'll be happier. And so, probably will Rob.

In a way, it's not fair to Rob to keep pressuring him to be somebody he isn't. Because of the pressure, he calls even if he doesn't want to; and then the fact that Dad is still around waiting becomes pressure on its own.

Letting Rob be himself--even if that's "a self that doesn't spend a lot of time with Dad"--is a way of loving Rob.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 03:05:59 PM by TootsNYC »

Hmmmmm

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #52 on: June 17, 2013, 04:38:54 PM »
I think you are dealing with a toxic child. If this behavior was coming from a parent to a child, we would have 5 pages with advice to distance from the toxic parent.

I really think your DH should contemplate the value that Rob brings to his life. I really wouldn't be willing to allow a child or any relative of mine to treat me like a second class citizen which is what Rob is doing. 


One of my sister's had a stepson who treated his dad horribly. His Dad tried for years to repair the relationship but it was all onesided. After about 10 years, my BIL gave up and just let the relationship flounder. After about 2 years, the son started initating contact with his Dad. But his Dad did have to go through the 2 years of minimal contact (call at Xmas, a bday card).  I don't know if Rob would ever reach back out to his Dad if your DH chose to decide to not support a one sided relationship but I don't see what value he is getting out of this one.

TootsNYC

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #53 on: June 17, 2013, 04:53:19 PM »
I personally reserve the term "toxic" for stuff FAR more damaging and deliberate than this!

TurtleDove

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #54 on: June 17, 2013, 05:04:02 PM »
I still think the idea of a "drop in is okay" is not a good message to send.  Make actual plans.  If Rob won't, too bad.  I get the sense Michelle is not the problem here at all; it is Rob, and whatever relationship he (doesn't) have/has with his father.  Given the history, it really doesn't make sense to me why the OP's DH got so shafted in the divorce - why was he ordered to pay alimony and child support beyond his means?  Why was he ordered to pay to put his three sons through college?  If he couldn't pay what he was ordered to pay, why did he not go back to the court to get the decree altered to be more fair?  Why did the sons not take out loans for college like (in my experience) the majority of kids these days do?  I have a lot of unanswered questions.

cwm

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #55 on: June 17, 2013, 05:13:52 PM »
I still think the idea of a "drop in is okay" is not a good message to send.  Make actual plans.  If Rob won't, too bad.  I get the sense Michelle is not the problem here at all; it is Rob, and whatever relationship he (doesn't) have/has with his father.  Given the history, it really doesn't make sense to me why the OP's DH got so shafted in the divorce - why was he ordered to pay alimony and child support beyond his means?  Why was he ordered to pay to put his three sons through college?  If he couldn't pay what he was ordered to pay, why did he not go back to the court to get the decree altered to be more fair?  Why did the sons not take out loans for college like (in my experience) the majority of kids these days do?  I have a lot of unanswered questions.

I don't think that the divorce decree is really relevant to this. It's in the past and was decided by someone to be fair. We don't know at all if the OP's DH fought it or not, but it's beside the point entirely. It may contribue to the relationship between him and Rob, but it may be something else entirely.

Also, I know many people whose parents paid for college and didn't have to get a single loan. Just because your experience says one thing doesn't mean that it's normal for everyone.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #56 on: June 17, 2013, 05:14:26 PM »
I personally reserve the term "toxic" for stuff FAR more damaging and deliberate than this!

Continual criticism of his father's lifestyle and no acknowledgement of the sacrifices his father made for him.
Lying about not being available and then sending a text that makes it sound like it was the Dad's fault for him being caught in his lie.
PA behavior with the texts of 'why aren't you here'.
Ignoring repetitive requests for definitive plans.
Not acknowledging Thanksgiving plans and then showing up late.
Expecting other's to continually be at your beck and call.
Snubbing his father at the "meet the parent's" function.
Always putting his mother and his Inlaws plans and desires first.

If a parent did these things to a child, there would be much more outrage.

To me toxic is anyone who makes you feel like less of a person. No, he isn't physically abusing his father, but he is well aware of the emotional control he has on his Dad and is in my opinion rejoicing in inflicting pain on his Dad. 

TurtleDove

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #57 on: June 17, 2013, 05:17:00 PM »
I still think the idea of a "drop in is okay" is not a good message to send.  Make actual plans.  If Rob won't, too bad.  I get the sense Michelle is not the problem here at all; it is Rob, and whatever relationship he (doesn't) have/has with his father.  Given the history, it really doesn't make sense to me why the OP's DH got so shafted in the divorce - why was he ordered to pay alimony and child support beyond his means?  Why was he ordered to pay to put his three sons through college?  If he couldn't pay what he was ordered to pay, why did he not go back to the court to get the decree altered to be more fair?  Why did the sons not take out loans for college like (in my experience) the majority of kids these days do?  I have a lot of unanswered questions.

I don't think that the divorce decree is really relevant to this. It's in the past and was decided by someone to be fair. We don't know at all if the OP's DH fought it or not, but it's beside the point entirely. It may contribue to the relationship between him and Rob, but it may be something else entirely.

Also, I know many people whose parents paid for college and didn't have to get a single loan. Just because your experience says one thing doesn't mean that it's normal for everyone.

My point is that the answers to these questions will likely shed insight into the relationship between Rob and her DH.  To me, either the OP did not get correct information about the decree or it seems to me the decree is far from fair, and probalby should have been challenged if that is what was decided.  The OP hinted that the divorce is the likely point of contention, and the information she provided to us in this thread strikes me as odd.  I get the sense resolving whatever issue Rob has with his DH would go a long way to resolving this current issue.

I think, to me, the DH's behavior surrounding the apparently completely inappropriate divorce decree is indicative of an extremely passive personality that continues to cause him problems in his current relationship with Rob.  He apparently allowed his ex-wife to walk all over him and now he is letting Rob do the same.  It doesn't make sense to me why Rob would blame his father, who worked so hard to send money to his mother for the support of the kids and mother, especially when the kids were old enough that she would not have had to be a stay at home mom.  It just seems very off to me so it comes across, to me, as sortof a martyr complex in the DH. 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 05:20:13 PM by TurtleDove »

WillyNilly

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #58 on: June 17, 2013, 05:32:02 PM »
I definitely think this on Rob, not Michelle. In fact I think her behavior shows she is not really on-board with Rob's behavior. She was shocked you ate thanksgiving dinner, presumably because Rob failed to tell her the time the meal was set for - after all, you gave him that info, so you set a time, and Rob knew a time. Michelle didn't know. what else is Rob being vague about? Michelle obviously is closer to her own parents, so she easily makes plans with them. She might even say "hey Rob what about your parents? Should we see your dad this weekend?" And it sounds like Rob might be replying "ehhh, whatever, my dad will be around we can just stop by." So Michelle might not realize its even an issue - she's going to take her cues on how things in her DH's family work from her DH.

I bet some of the reasons behind Rob's motives are his parents relationship. Obviously I don't know their divorce details - nor do I need to - but I bet it wasn't a fly-by-night decision, it was probably years worth of tension that came to a head that the marriage wasn't working anymore. And Rob witnessed, and was old enough to understand it, for longer then his brothers. And Rob being away at college when it happened probably made him feel very left out of a very big thing happening in his family (which was probably a double edged sword - he probably was glad to not be around it while at he same time feeling very left out - divorce is complicated for everyone involved).

I think the solution is 3 fold.
1. Start looping Michelle into all communications. CC her on emails and even texts. Do it in a light and breezy way like its totally natural. If ever questioned, just a big smile "oh we just figured it was easier to tell you both at the same time instead of burdening Rob with having to play middle man."
2. Be proactive in making plans and less reactive to last minute requests.
and
3. If asked, or if its brought up by the sons, your DH should be honest about the sacrifices he made for his sons. He does not need to badmouth their mother to be honest, but they are adults and there is no reason they shouldn't know all the work your DH did to support his sons, and where he wasn't there physically, he made up for financially. This goes for conversations with all 3 of them.

Coley

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Re: Will you be around this afternoon?
« Reply #59 on: June 17, 2013, 05:35:13 PM »
I still think the idea of a "drop in is okay" is not a good message to send.  Make actual plans.  If Rob won't, too bad.  I get the sense Michelle is not the problem here at all; it is Rob, and whatever relationship he (doesn't) have/has with his father.  Given the history, it really doesn't make sense to me why the OP's DH got so shafted in the divorce - why was he ordered to pay alimony and child support beyond his means?  Why was he ordered to pay to put his three sons through college?  If he couldn't pay what he was ordered to pay, why did he not go back to the court to get the decree altered to be more fair?  Why did the sons not take out loans for college like (in my experience) the majority of kids these days do?  I have a lot of unanswered questions.

DH went along with the divorce decree because he thought it was the right thing to do at the time. From what DH has told me, he felt he had something to prove by following through with that divorce decree. He lived up to every one of the expectations despite how difficult it was for him. His boys' needs (and in many respects, his ex) came first. I know he takes some pride in following through on the decree, but at the same time, I believe it came at a cost to him in terms of his relationships with the boys.

In hindsight, it's easy to say what he could or should have done differently where the decree is concerned. I have asked all the same questions you are, but they don't change anything. We are where we are now. The end result was that DH as "dad" became defined by his pocketbook rather than the quality of his time with his sons. We have to deal with that in the present. We can't go back in time to second guess what DH could or should have done differently 13 years ago.