I've been with a good man for ten years. He had a very difficult childhood, and endured abandonment plus physical and emotional abuse. Though he's been emotionally crippled, he's succeeded at his career and done well financially.
He's divorced and doesn't have good relationships with his children. He loves me, but is much better at receiving love than demonstrating it.
He asked me to move into his home a year ago; he doesn't want to marry. I had to leave almost everything behind because the house was furnished to his taste. There are so many rules about how he likes things done that I can't be myself or feel like I'm truly "home."
My daughter's visiting soon for ten days before moving 1000 miles away for school. He's said that she cannot stay with us. I'm torn by having to choose between my child and this man who supports me but refuses to make a commitment.
I can't bear the idea of abandoning my child simply because he won't make the effort to accommodate. His children are always welcome.... I think this is a deal-breaker for me. How do I handle it?
This is a Big Deal...deal-breaker or not. Your response as a mom is most important, especially just before your daughter leaves for a major phase of her life. Stay with her during her visit - go to a hotel, rent a cottage, whatever; or travel with her to her destination and help her set up there. Your "not-a-partner" should help you financially with these plans, since he's forcing you to leave "home" in order to be the kind of mother he knows you are.
If he's testing your loyalties, it's a crummy strategy. You have a right to both loyalties, and a responsibility to support your daughter when needed. The fact this didn't happen for him in his youth, doesn't excuse him.
When you return, tell him you're not just an accessory to his life; you're either an equal partner in a way that makes you comfortable, or you're gone. If that's the "abandonment" he's testing you for, he's now foolishly bringing it on himself.
I've been in a two-year committed relationship with a terrific girl. We're both finishing university so our time together is limited to short phone calls at night and occasional weekend dates.
Sometimes, I really question her intentions. She has had two long conversations with a previous boyfriend late at night, a time when we never talk. After both times, she promised not to do something similar. Recently, I discovered she's been having lengthy text conversations with a guy who expressed romantic feelings for her but whom she turned down. I learned this by doing some snooping to confirm a bad feeling.
She believes I have trust issues. While it was wrong to infringe on her privacy, my gut has been right so far. Should I ignore my instincts and wait for her to tell me about these things? Or is it better to simply move on?
There's a middle road between "ignoring your gut" and "moving on." It's called communication: If her only contribution is to accuse you of trust issues, that's not a discussion.
Tell her you saw her texts, that her reneging on promises pushed you to snoop, that you were both wrong and need to talk it out. One solution may be that your limited contact is too hard on her, and you should find more time together.
FEEDBACK Here's another view regarding the woman who wanted her longtime boyfriend to buy a house with her (June 12 column):
Reader - "There's no substitute for a loving relationship. At a young age, it generally leads to starting a family; however, for people entering new relationships later in life, there is such a thing as too much togetherness; we're not as flexible as we used to be.
I'm in a loving, long-term committed relationship; we feel sure it's the last one for both of us. But we're happy to maintain two apartments instead of being in each other's face constantly."
You two have happily come to a mutually satisfying decision. The woman who wrote me, however, has a need for a greater commitment, and in this case sees the next step being the purchase of a house. He differs, so they may not last, either way.
Tip of the day:
Asking a mother to "choose" child or spouse is a nasty set-up.