I'm in a card group; we're all friends and take turns playing at each other's homes. One of our members is a terrible housekeeper, and the rest of us don't like playing at her place.
The carpets are horribly dirty, often not vacuumed. The walls and light switches all bear dirty fingerprints. The kitchen's a disaster - not an inch of counter space.
There's also an unpleasant smell inside the house. I'm afraid it's mold, since there've been leaks in her ceiling.
She doesn't seem aware of germ control when she handles food. We worry about her and her family's health living in such a dirty environment.
Otherwise, she's a lovely, generous person. How do we deal with this??
Reluctant Card Player
Create a Cleaning Kitty, to everyone's advantage. Introduce the idea of each person contributing, say, $10 per game (depending on the numbers of players). Whoever's hosting the next game, gets a few hours of a professional cleaner before or after.
Also, if you're concerned about eating there, start ordering in pizza or sandwiches at each home, and insist everyone use paper plates "for convenience."
If you want to save the friendship with her, it's hard to comment directly on her crummy housekeeping - unless the apparent cause is depression. If so, take a different course and encourage her to get counselling help.
My ex-boyfriend of 14 months had serious, chronic health issues. But I grew to care for him deeply. His divorced mother's been a pillar of strength for him. Yet she wouldn't listen to anything I'd say. I'd start chatting and she'd start talking about a different topic. He says his mother is like that with everyone. I didn't really buy it.
Also, whenever I discussed with someone a topic she knew little (e.g. my experiences living in an overseas culture), she'd try to divert everyone's attention.
She's unhappy, and confided in me that she suspects her common-law partner is gay and/or having an affair - she says she has strong evidence.
The first Christmas I knew her, I gave her two expensive tree ornaments. (She has a gorgeous home). Next Christmas, they weren't on the tree. But a relative's gifted ornament was there. My birthday gift to her also went unused. Yet she was always generous with us.
His mother and her partner were verbally abusive and sarcastic toward me throughout my relationship.
I finally broke it off. He's started seeing other women. Was I right to break up with him? Or is he correct in saying that I was overly sensitive?
Seeking an Objective Opinion
From your much-longer letter, there were numerous "slights" to you, and no mention of your boyfriend standing up for you. Worse, verbal abuse from the other relatives was unacceptable, and again he should've spoken to them about it.
Yet, your ex may've felt beholden to his mother who'd helped him through his illnesses. That may explain his wish that you just ignore these negative behaviours from his family.
But, since you are normally sensitive about your conversation and gifts being acknowledged, you were wise to see that this relationship would've remained problematic due to these people. His mother wants most attention for herself, and her partner is a boor.
There's an important lesson here for you about yourself. You aren't a backseat person who's happy to play a secondary role, just to be with someone. You cared for this person, but not enough for his illnesses and his mother to dominate the relationship.
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother who has fears that her daughter, 26, is afraid of commitment because she's focused on her interesting work more than on dating seriously and finding a husband (Feb. 28):
Reader - "Wow, I had to fight a gag reflex. Talk about a flashback to the 1950s. Since when did 26 or even 30 become too old to have a family and a meaningful relationship? The woman's daughter is getting enough pressure from her peers who've settled down and had kids, as well as the plethora of messages out there about getting married, without having to worry that her mom is on her case.
"If I were the mom, I'd be proud of the daughter who has her life together, seems to be an intelligent woman and at a young age, seems to know what she wants. Marriage, husband, kids will eventually follow. She just has not found anyone yet."
Tip of the day:
When a friend's home is visibly unkempt, consider ways to help in a non-judgmental way.