Has anyone ever left a marriage due to a stepchild?


Long-time lurker, first-time poster. I’ve been married to my 2nd wife for six years. Our children are grown, at least in age. Wife was from out of state - one of those long-distance romances. She moved here, and one of her sons followed shortly after. Six years later, he has no more today (no job, no place of his own, no vehicle, no money, no drivers license) than when he moved here. His mom still jumps at his beck and call. This “child” is 27 years old, and I’ve about had it. However, there are times when I question myself if I am being fair. His mom is all this boy has - he has no one else to call on when he needs something. I know he should grow up and be a man, but frankly I have my doubts if that will ever happen. We have made loans to him to help get him started, but it’s all been poured down a black hole, and will probably never see that money again. Part of me says, when I married your mom, I didn’t marry your sorry a** and all your problems. The other part of me says, if it were your child, would you be the same way? Blood is thicker than water so I already know an ultimatum will do no good, and an ultimatum is not right anyway. I think the best thing to do, if I do anything, is just to say, I’m not happy, I don’t think this situation is ever going to change, so I’m leaving.

Maybe I’m just being selfish, I don’t know. Seems like I’ve lived with this for so long, I’m beginning to doubt my own judgment.

I look forward to any advice/opinions.


I’ve often wondered if this will be the situation I am in when my stepsons are older, but I think that my husband has full intentions of “forcing” them to take care of themselves. Their mother will always bail them out but sometimes the best scenario is to let the child fail/fall. I believe it teaches them more than if they never have that experience. and there’s a difference in supporting your child and being there for them, and paying their way through life. Even if that parent is all the child has, at some point they do need to be pushed out of the nest.

Have you discussed this with your wife? Rather than leaving a marriage specifically because of a situation that has little to do with your spouse, why not try to compromise. Ask her what her expectations are of this. Does she expect to pay his way and never have him grow up, get a job and contribute not only to society but to your family? Is she willing to try to get him “out on his own”?
You are correct in that giving an ultimatum is not a good idea…but if you can get your wife discussing the situation and how unhappy it’s making you, she may decide that it’s time her adult son start to act like an adult. Maybe she does not know how to do this and it will take time. If she’s willing to help get the ball rolling set a deadline for a job and his license, find a car that can be bought outright, cover insurance for 6 months, and then find a place near that he could live. Deposit & first month’s rent and take him to the grocery store the first time for all the necessities. Get his power turned on. Let her know that you do not mind helping him out but you expect that at some point he is going to have to learn to care for himself and pay his own way.

The other option is to have him begin paying you two rent. Not a lot, $200 a month. Something so that he has to find a job, but not so much that he doesn’t have some left over…he may get used to having money of his own and all the previous stuff will be easier to get going…
Just some suggestions. The biggest point is to get your spouse to agree that something needs to be resolved because you don’t want to continue this way. All this is providing that you still love your wife and want to stay in the marriage…

Thank you for your response, stepmother. Words of wisdom for sure. We have been down this road before. In fact, when he first arrived here, we set him up in his own apt, and he had everything he needed. The apartment was in town, so he could walk to his workplace. He was able to obtain an old clunker to drive, but soon sold it, and the apartment rent was in arrears just a few months afterwards. He left it as it was, and we had to clean it up - it was filthy - the vinyl flooring was almost black. This boy has had more jobs in the last six years than I’ve had in my lifetime. He cannot work with people, yet he becomes “bored” when tasked on a job to himself, and, as a result, has either quit or been fired from all of them. He has lost his license due to numerous DWIs. Has been living with a girl, at least when they are not fighting. Other times, he stays with what few friends he still has left, as most of them have finally realized what a moocher he is. To make matters even more complicated, he and his on again/off again girlfriend brought a child into the world last November. We had to pay her rent this month due to him not having job to help out with expenses. The child has the personality of an angel, but doesn’t seem to have a snowball’s chance due to his parents.

I think perhaps men and women may have different views on a problem such as this. Women are mothers first and foremost, and always will be. Based on my experience with my own mother, I believe Moms generally do not realize that their children have grown up, and always treat them somewhat as “children” all their lives. Men, on the other hand, are so discouraged, disappointed, and enraged when they see an adult male acting like, and being treated like, a child.

I think he is afraid of commitment and responsibility. Have you ever known someone that you just had this feeling about - a feeling that “he will never amount to anything”? I thought for sure he would get his act together when his son came into the world, but if anything, he has become worse. Due to prior run-ins with the law, next week he will begin serving a 30 day jail sentence for misdemeanor drug charges. He was actually given 18 months probation, but with no job, no car, he cannot pay the monthly fees, nor get to the required classes and probation meetings.

For sure, this is not the only problem within the marriage, however, it has to be the main one.

Since it sounds as though you’ve tried the suggestions in the past, where does your wife stand now on what she believes are her duties?
It seems to me that having a child of his own has made his behavior worse because it’s put the wrong type of pressure on him. His impending jail time may cause him to “wake up” and if the mother attempts to get child support, he may be in for more legal issues.

I believe that you need to think about whether or not there is the option of your spouse ever changing her reactions and involvement in her child’s life. While I’m sure that you don’t “hate” him, he’s not making it easy for you to think of him as family or respect him. If your wife is not willing to discuss options about her involvement, then you may consider letting her know how much you dislike this situation. You MUST get this out between you so that you can decide what the next step is. If you do not know where she stands, how can you make an informed decision about your stand?
The grandchild should be taken care of. Though I know that is his responsibility, you two can offer to help care for, request visits, and become a stable point in this child’s life. The issue with the father, your stepson will have to be worked out before this could happen. You could even file for joint custody, but as I said, you’ll need to work out for yourself if you even want to stay in the marriage prior to any of this and to me, that will only be resolved when your spouse decides that her son is taking advantage of her…just my opinion.