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Dear Amy: My husband has been irritable, tense, short-tempered and basically taking things out on me and our 16-year-old son.

I confided in my 39-year-old stepson (my husband’s son) and let him know that I was worried about his father regarding stress and potentially some depression issues.

I did mention that we were not getting along well and suggested that perhaps the son could give his father a break and take him away from the stress of the family business.

The getaway ended up being a trip to Vegas which included drinking, gambling and yes, strip joints.

This of course put a bigger wedge in our marriage.

Would it be appropriate to let my stepson know how hurt I am, since he coordinated the “bachelor trip,” or did I learn a painful lesson?

– Bamboozled

Dear Bamboozled: Your intentions were good, but the essential error you made was to share your marital problems with your husband’s son. Confiding your concerns about his stress and possible depression is one thing, but entrusting children (no matter how old) with deeply personal relationship issues between parents is tricky. This knowledge can divide their loyalties, or – in your case – inspire a son to align with and enable his father.

So, were you bamboozled when the son chose to take his dad for a Vegas blowout, versus a de-stressing yoga retreat in the woods? It was unrealistic of you to expect a different outcome.

Your husband is unhappy. He is not treating you and your son well.

His problem has come home to roost, and you and he should pursue marriage counseling right away.

Couples’ counseling does not always repair relationships, but it does facilitate communication and create pathways for behaving differently. And sometimes, counseling sessions can uncover intractable issues which lead to couples deciding to part.

My instinct is that your husband might be toying with leaving the marriage; he is forcing the issue by treating you badly, which is a cowardly – but common – way to transfer unhappiness onto family members.

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(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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