I’m in love with a divorced man but hearing alarm bells. His son, 23, lives in his basement and doesn’t work. He pays rent for his married daughter while her husband’s in school, and she only works part-time.
She’s talking about getting pregnant while her husband’s considering pursuing a different PhD, which means ten more years of her father’s support. He’s not so rich.
When we go out, we split the bills because I have a good job. It feels like I’ll be paying for all of them eventually.
You’re looking at an expensive and resentful future, if you can’t get him to see that he must set boundaries with adult children in order to enjoy a peaceful, fair relationship with you.
However, his son needs help getting motivated to find work and have his own place for his sake, not just for his father’s and your comfort.
He may have mental health issues, which must be addressed, with a plan to help him move forward in his life.
The daughter and her husband are takers, and will remain so until her father states his limits.
He has to understand this, or you’ll never last as a couple. Make all this clear, without negating his real responsibility to give his son the support he needs most.
It’s natural for him to care about his children, but his present indulgence isn’t helping his daughter mature and be responsible, and it’s camouflaging his son’s deeper issues.
My husband and I visit my mother-in-law every summer weekend. We have our own room and kitchen, but little privacy. She can hear us and enters our space at will.
He claims he enjoys the property and neighborhood, and we have a small living space in the city.
However, she’s hungry for company. Though she has a busy social life, she craves more family time. She’s occasionally tried to give us couple time, but always with resistance, which sometimes results in tears.
She complains that her neighbors and friends spend lots of time with their kids and grandkids, host dinner parties, etc. so we should do the same.
We don’t have kids, both work hard, so are more focused on couple time.
I've suggested his going on his own, but he’d never agree to be separate. We always have one weekend dinner with her, with friendly chat.
I feel life’s passing me by; that my only social life is with this older lady with whom I don’t have much in common.
I love my husband, but his passive reaction has made me lose respect for him.
This situation has caused me a lot of stress. And my inability to cope with this third wheel has been a turn off for him. It’s made me appear a less attractive partner, which makes me resent her even more.
I'd rather be socializing with our same-age couples or doing things alone with him.
Beware old age… you may one day become someone else’s “third wheel.”
Meanwhile, you two as a couple, and this lonely woman need a solution, not mutual resentment.
She’s providing her son (and you) free country living which he desires. He could occasionally (twice a summer?) go on his own, give his mother his full attention, while you enjoy yourself with same-age friends, reading, and total relaxation.
It could be a healthy personal re-charge for you both - and it’s needed with so much resentment and lack of willing compromise.
FEEDBACK More commentary regarding “educational differences” in a couple (July 9):
Reader #1 – “I’m a Grade 9 dropout and a "roads" scholar. I’ve maintained myself from age 16, going from job to job, but learning all the way. I managed to acquire some equity along the way.
“My husband has three university degrees. I make him laugh; he makes me wise. It’s twenty-five years, and we’re still going strong.”
Reader #2 – “The job description “in construction” always seems to conjure up images of sweaty brutes leaning on a shovel.
“Having spent my working life as a skilled tradesman in the construction industry, I served an intensive five-year apprenticeship that involved practical hands-on training as well as classroom instruction.
“I continued my education to stay current and attended many seminars relating to Leadership, Labour Relations, and Safety.
“I served on many committees in my community and have always taken part in political activity.”
Ellie – It’s also an educated life.
Tip of the day:
A divorced parent needs healthy boundaries with adult children that allow a next relationship to be peaceful and fair.