- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki: I need some girlfriend advice. Im ashamed to say that I am being blackmailed by my sons’ father. He refuses to pay his child support for them unless I “spend time” with him. I hope you can follow me because I dont want to be too graphic.

I first thought this was OK because Im only a peon in the Army and I really do need his child support payments. He would come to see the children maybe once a month and pay his child support. Then his visits got more frequent, and one time he spent the night. Things just happened. I thought we possibly were becoming close again and might become a family. Then he started coming over more often and demanding lunch or dinner.

I know what you are thinking, and I could kick myself for not putting a stop to it a long time ago. Now I cant get rid of him. When I tell him he can visit only the boys, he gets upset and starts going off. He says he is coming to see me, too, and I had better give him whatever he wants or he will not pay his child support.

Now he has me in a bad spot because he knows I need his financial support. He is asking for a key to my apartment, but I keep making excuses not to give it to him. I am so tired of this, and I dont know how to get out of this situation. I know its my fault entirely for letting this get out of hand. I hope you print my letter. Maybe he will just happen to read it and realize how wrong he is for treating me like this. In the meantime, I guess Im stuck in this mess.

-S.P.E.

Dear S.P.E.:

I have heard of situations like this, but you are the first one to write me a letter about it. I really regret telling you this, but you must simply stop this. Im not a lawyer, but Im thinking you have a court order that mandates your sons’ father to pay his child support. If he doesnt, the court will go after him. He also is entitled to visit with his children, but it doesnt have to be in your home.

You will have to let the court do its job. Stop providing sexual favors to your childrens father because you obviously have a problem with this. It is only making matters worse - everything is out of control, and he wants a key to your apartment. Things get worse when people dont step up to the plate and say “No.” Instead, they go along for the ride and then question how they arrived at a different destination.

Listen, I know you need the financial support to help you raise your children, but your childrens father is totally out of line. He knows he is taking advantage of you, and you have to stop him. Simply tell him it stops right now. Dont answer the door, dont invite him in, and arrange an alternate location for him to visit the children. If he stops his child support, report him. In my opinion, he does not want to be a family with you and his children, he only wants to drop in whenever he wants. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

Dear Ms. Vicki:

My wife is a college professor, and she does not want to have anything to do with the military or military functions. Its as if she absolutely looks down on all military spouses.

I invited her to a recent promotion of one of my friends, and she came, but not alone. She brought her sister with her, and they both literally laughed at my friend’s wife for preparing appetizers and other party favors. They said she was acting like a maid. Later, my wife said that when Im promoted later this year, I will have to pay a caterer to do the food because she would never stoop so low as to do such a thing. She said she is not a Stepford wife.

Ms. Vicki, I dont have a weak ego. I will be the first one to admit that my wife makes more money than I do. I help with the cooking and the housework. I try to support her with all of her endeavors; I just think she should do the same for me. Now Im thinking maybe this is why most of my military friends marry women who want to be housewives and cook, clean and have children. It would mean a lot less for me to have to deal with at this point. My friends’ wives are happy every time they get out of the house and are with other people. My wife acts as if other people are beneath her.

This is tearing me up, and I dont know how much more I can take. When I try to talk to her, she says I am jealous of her and ashamed because she earns more money than I do. Why should this be a blemish on my manhood? This is becoming crazier by the week. Are we at an impasse, or is this the beginning of the end of our marriage?

- Holding Onto Manhood

Dear Manhood:

It seems that you have many dynamics in your marriage right now - your wifes demeaning attitude toward your career, her nonparticipation, her larger paychecks (perhaps this may be a blow to your ego), her comment that she’s not a Stepford wife, and your feeling that you are giving 100 percent while she is giving less.

This could be the beginning of the end; however, I dont think you can fix it alone. You really need to see an experienced marriage therapist or marital counselor. I get the impression you both are talking “at” each other and not “to” each other. This is why the situation seems to be getting worse, and now you are thinking you have married the wrong person or married for the wrong reasons. You need someone who can coach you both about how to communicate on very important concerns.

Now please allow me to give you a quick insight. Your wife is a professor, and I think thats commendable. She obviously is independent, et cetera, right? Obviously, you were attracted to her for some of these reasons, and you had to know her feelings on issues like these, right? Let me try to make this plainer. You knew she didnt like to cook and clean or prepare food for events because she feels that makes her look subservient, right? But you married her anyway, knowing you wanted just the opposite. My question is, why did you do this? Did you think you could change her?

Listen, Im not saying your wife is right or wrong for putting her career first. However, I caution people when they marry people who have shown who they really are. I dont think you will be able to change her, but again, try marital counseling before you make a decision to end it. Stay in touch and let me know how it goes.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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