Ask Amy: In 10 years, this relationship will still be flawed

Tribune Media ServicesMay 16, 2013 

DEAR AMY: I am a divorced woman about to turn 50 in a loving relationship with a man the same age. We live two hours away from each other but see each other every week.

My guy has a 21-year-old daughter who lives with him. She is rude, has no household responsibilities, has no job and no driver's license, has been in community college for two years and needs another two to receive her associate degree. She totally relies on her dad for everything! In the beginning, she also came along on some of our dates!

I have talked to him about her reliance on him, her behavior and her lack of maturity. He says he is working with her on growing up. In the past, he had a second marriage that failed. He says she does not like her mom and had a terrible relationship with her stepmother. She has no female friends.

We have talked about marriage, but we are both still cleaning up some of the mistakes of our past. I am not in a hurry to marry and will not move into a house under these conditions. However, I do want to marry him and make a life together before I am 60.

Is there hope for a future with this wonderful man? — Worried

DEAR WORRIED: It sounds as if you're willing to devote up to a decade for your guy's daughter to grow up and develop a life of her own. However, in 10 years, all of you in this triangle may only be 10 years older, not 10 years smarter.

The pattern so far in this man's life is that his relationship with his daughter is the primary one for him. Do you want to spend the next 10 years of your life correcting and trying to control this pair?

You should face your future with the idea that, realistically, if you choose to be in a family with him, you will also be in a family with her. I suggest you continue to enjoy him at a distance. Given the dynamic in his household, distance sounds ideal.

DEAR AMY: You ran a letter in your column from the gentleman whose wonderful wife always found a new deficiency he was asked to correct. This resonated with me.

Not only does my wife do the same thing, but she accuses me of not being "accountable." I am not her employee; I am a faithful husband who was a good provider, allowing us to comfortably retire early.

I do most of the grocery shopping and cooking, everything with our finances, nearly all the trip-planning, yardwork, and all the snow and garbage removal.

I am not a slob. Unfortunately, I am and always have been a tad absent-minded (e.g., leaving lights and TVs on after I have left the room), which drives my perfectionist wife nuts.

She is always lamenting that no one in this world is accountable anymore, me included. My wife is intelligent, thoughtful and kind, but her negativity over the accountability issue (with me and the rest of the world) has me beaten down.

I thought retirement was a time to enjoy our lives together. Suggestions? — Sad Husband

DEAR SAD: If this is all about accountability, then what about your wife? She doesn't take responsibility for the negative pressure she puts on you (and others). Her refusal to imagine what it is like to be on the receiving end of her negativity tells me that she is not willing to be accountable. Evidently everyone else must change, but she needn't.

I wonder if she is able to make a deal. If you could change one bad habit, could she change one of hers? Can she be accountable? You should ask her.

It's worth a conversation.

DEAR AMY: Your assumptions about a "creepy" neighbor of "Parents in a Quandary" concern me. As young adults (ages 19 and 20), the sons of these parents are legally entitled to have any relationship they want with anyone they want. — Not in a Quandary

DEAR NOT: You are absolutely correct. But this fact doesn't change the concerns of these parents, only their ability to do anything about it.

(Send questions via e-mail to askamytribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.) 

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