Dear Annie: My father-in-law has been living with us for the past two years. He is emotionally stunted and acts like a 12-year-old boy. He spends his paychecks on ridiculous things like candy and stashes it all around his room. This wouldn’t be a problem if he made contributions in a monetary way.
My wife and I had saved for a majority of our relationship to buy a house, and now we have the house but no privacy. When we took him in, we saw it as a temporary rehabilitation and an opportunity for him to save up some money and get his own place. We made our intentions clear, but our intentions have been ignored. We can barely confront him because he rapidly changes the subject.
He had a drug problem that consumed his marriage and ruined most of his relationships with the other children. When we took him in, my wife thought he was better. Generally, I trust her judgment, but this whole new person in our lives who is insanely triggering to her has derailed our peace in the household.
Now we find countless containers of this odd tea that gets you high, and he acts weird on it, but, when off it, he gets angry and yells all the time. I feel like he thinks he’s putting one over on us by being sneaky. I confronted him and said I don’t think it’s the best thing for a past addict. He changed the subject and told me to mind my own business.
To top it off, this guy talks all the time, to the point where you can’t form a thought. He is always trying to “read” everyone to the point where it feels violating or uncomfortable, and my quiet time is no longer existent.
My question is this: How do I handle this situation? Living with him makes my wife and I miserable, but if I take a stand against him, we would not be acting as a couple. I’ve talked to my wife multiple times about kicking him out, and she agrees that would be good for her mental health.
But she does not want to do it because her father lacks the ability to thrive on his own. His money management is terrible, and kicking him out could mean homelessness.
— Father-in-Law Is a Nightmare
Dear Son-in-Law: Your father-in-law is in a bad place right now. By providing him with a roof over his head while he is using mind-altering substances, you and your wife are enabling him to continue his destructive lifestyle.
Kicking him out could end up being one of the kindest things you do for him. It might force him to hit his bottom and then get help for his drug problem.
When you and your wife have the conversation about his leaving, be very clear that you love him. Be clear that you will support him emotionally in any way he needs as he recovers. But be clear that so long as he is using drugs or other substances, he is not allowed to live under your roof.
Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.