Q: My husband went to Florida three months ago to care for an ailing former lover. He told me she will be leaving him a sizable inheritance and he needs to protect her from “vultures.” I admit I am suspicious of his motives. I think there may be more going on than what he’s telling me, but he has been painting a pretty picture of how rosy our future will be with her gift.
He has now suggested that we get a temporary divorce so he can marry her in order to get her entire estate! He claims it will be nothing more than a business arrangement. His suggestion left me flabbergasted. Even though our marriage has been rocky at times, I have never seen this side of him. I don’t know whether to believe him and be simply disappointed at his callous behavior, or not believe him and conclude that he really wants a divorce so he can marry her. Any thoughts? — Heartsick in South Carolina
A: Your husband appears to still be carrying a torch for his old flame. Are you sure she is really sick? If it’s the truth, then the “vulture” I see on the horizon may be him.
I hope you appreciate how extremely manipulative your husband appears to be. Because of it, and since he has spoken the “D” word, consult a lawyer to ensure that your interests will be protected regardless of his motives. I’m saying that in case the woman turns out to be healthier than both of you.
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Q: How do you help someone who doesn’t want to be helped? My adult son, “Greg,” who lives with me, is slowly drinking himself to death. He was laid off two years ago, and I know he is depressed and has given up on life.
It has reached the point where he is showing signs of cirrhosis, but he refuses to do anything about it. The last time he saw a doctor was three years ago. The doctor said Greg’s liver functions were not normal and he needed to stop drinking. I’ve tried to make my son listen to reason, to no avail.
My sister tells me if I don’t get Greg some help, I could be charged with adult neglect. But I don’t know how to fix this. The outcome is increasingly bleak. What can I do? — Mom With a Problem
A: If the inability to convince a substance-addicted adult relative to get help were against the law, there wouldn’t be enough prisons to hold all the “offenders.”
As much as you love your son, you can’t “fix” his alcohol addiction. You should, however, find the nearest Al-Anon group and attend some meetings. And while you are at it, bring your sister with you because she has a lot to learn. Chief among the lessons is that someone else’s drinking is not another person’s fault or responsibility to control. I am sorry for your pain, because I’m sure it is considerable.
Q: I’m an attorney. Recently at a party, an acquaintance was talking about some litigation his company is involved in. I commented briefly on something he said, and he responded, “We take advice from attorneys we PAY,” and walked away. Should I feel insulted, or should I have stayed out of the conversation to begin with? — Hurt Feelings in Florida
A: Some people think that anything that’s offered for free is without value, and it appears the man you encountered is one of them. Because this is his world view, try not to take it personally. Your motives were generous. I see no reason to muzzle yourself in the future if you think you have something helpful to say.