My stepson is going through the separation from Hell. It is so bad that he and she cannot communicate in even the slightest way, and I fear that in the long run this will have a terrible effect on their son, who is four and learning to navigate their mutual hostilities. I logged onto your site thinking to share it with him with the idea that that would be the start of things getting better, even if she didn’t respond in kind. But reading the entries I thought back on my own relation with him, having seen him being abusive toward his mother when he was younger and living at home, and now seeing that the current circumstance has made him overly dependent on her emotionally. Furthermore, we had to take on debt to pay his legal bills which I view as having been incurred by his making stupid choices along the way, all of which my wife completely concurred with, and then he tried to hide the money he does have by involving my wife in a fraudulent scheme with foreign banks. I can’t stand to be in the same room with him because he is so self absorbed and always presents himself as the victim with no thought that he may have contributed to his own plight. But my wife of course is completely intertwined with him now, not only because her son is suffering, but also because there is a grandchild involved, and that impacts my marriage. So forget about my encouraging him to forgive his ex. I have my own problems forgiving him, and forgiving my wife whom I love dearly in every other aspect of our lives together. Thoughts on that?

I am sorry to hear of your troubles with your son.  From your letter, it seems to me that your son is fuming with anger and this started in childhood.  He has shown a history of inappropriate behavior and he apparently has brought this anger into the marriage.  You are correct: If he does not address that anger and take steps to diminish it, this will affect all of his important relationships, including with his wife, with his own child, and with you as his father and with his own mother.  

If he refuses to forgive, then take it slowly with him.  Forgiveness cannot be rushed or demanded.  He will have to choose it for himself by being drawn to the idea of forgiving others.  He may need to forgive his mother for over-indulgence.  He may have to forgive you for your deep anger toward him (as you practice forgiving him).  And he and his wife need to engage in forgiving and receiving forgiveness from one another if they will save their marriage.  

If your son refuses to forgive, remains furious, and places all blame on others, he could be suffering from narcissism, especially if he was over-indulged when growing up.  He will need to see this narcissism, practice humility, and even work on seeking forgiveness from those toward whom he has been insensitive.  

This is a long list of forgiveness themes.  I recommend that your start slowly and see if your son is able to consider forgiving his mother.  At the same time, you should consider forgiving him so that your interactions with him are as supportive and loving as possible.  See him as emotionally wounded rather than as a big problem for all in the family.  This perspective may assist you as you begin to forgive.

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