Hubby Is Useless

Q: Me and my husband have been together for seven years, only married for three. We also have a four-year-old son together. We argue all the time about my husband playing softball or bowling and not spending enough time with our son. Not only do I work full-time, but I've given up everything, like friends, even family, to both work and stay at home to take care of our son. When I'm at work our son is with my mother-in-law all the time and my husband is always out. I've told him I don't know how many times to straighten up or I'm leaving him and taking our son. What should I do? We fight about other things, too, but that's our main problem. -- Katherine, 22

Dr. Susan: Do you know what a thought experiment is? Try this: Imagine you have left your husband and taken your son with you. How would your life be different? You'd still have the full responsibility for your son, but probably your mother-in-law wouldn't continue caring for him while you work. Your life might get more complicated. I don't know if your husband supplies any of the income you live on, so you have to figure that in. He might not pay much (or any) child support, since he doesn't sound like the dependable type. Imagine yourself, then, without support - financial or for child care. Could you manage? Would you feel less stress overall without the constant fights with your husband?

Whether to leave or not is a choice only you can make, and I advise you to make that decision carefully, first figuring out how you'd work and take care of your son. You might have to wait until he's in school full-time to manage it at all. Since your useless husband doesn't sound as though he's ever going to change, you have to be ready to back up your threat of leaving. If he knows you mean it, he may decide to make some effort and sit down with you to discuss what he can do to help. What he MUST do to help. And if he won't, and your current situation is intolerable for you, don't make any more idle threats and start planning how to make a life on your own with your son.

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