I'm 43, male, and for the past few months I've been in and out of jail. My girlfriend and I have been together for two years; but every time her family gets involved, the war starts. She doesn't speak up for herself and tell them what she wants in life, and for us. After we bought a house, things went downhill because her family believed that I was no good for her. And they were telling her what she had to do. She's 54 and she should do what makes her happy. Her family doesn't know all that I did for her - all the housework, walking the dog, etc. Yet even at Christmas when we should've been together, I had to leave her because her mother came and she's the biggest problem for us. I don't know where to turn.
Turn straight. That's the best start to showing this woman and her family that you're committed to a stable life with her, and not one of drama, disappointments, and periodic disappearances. Though your girlfriend is beyond the age of needing her family's permission to choose someone, she's clearly affected by their concerns for her well-being. Few families would be comfortable to welcome someone who repeatedly gets into such serious trouble as to be jailed, no matter your reasons for how this happens. But
having you start to live a responsible life would provide her with evidence that you're turning your former ways around. Speak to your parole officer about opportunities for job training and employment and how to contact local agencies that help people leaving jail.
I live with my girlfriend and her daughter in the basement of her house. Her brother and his family live upstairs; she's helping them get on their feet. We're here saving money while our new house is being built. Her brother's family make loud banging noises on the floor and their four kids run around all hours of the night. The sound is deafening. I said I'll stay elsewhere until the house is done but she accuses me of bailing out on her.
I can't live like this until June. How do I handle this without her thinking I'm trying to leave her?
- Overhead Torment
Your girlfriend and her brother share a family trait - that of being uncomfortable and/or afraid to set boundaries. But limits on annoying behaviour are essential when people live together. Her brother's family should be trying hard to curb their children's disturbances. If the house set-up makes this difficult, then everyone in the household should be discussing possible solutions. Your girlfriend is the one risking your relationship by avoiding any responsibility for what's going on. Blaming you for not accepting discomfort, is a childish trick. You need a mature problem-solving talk, and your offer to live elsewhere for awhile is reasonable. If she continues to badger you, through guilt, into staying, it's the relationship that's more of a worry than the current living conditions.
My boyfriend of six years often puts our relationship on hold. When his father had colon cancer, my boyfriend didn't contact me for three months while tending to him. Yet he hadn't seen his father in 20 years - since his parents divorced. When his mother visits, he takes one month off to tend to her. When his sister got married, he took the summer off. When I asked him why he doesn't include me, he spoke of "private issues to discuss." In the first four years of courtship, he took me out once a month for dinner, partly because he was travelling on business trips, partying with colleagues, working late. Then he changed jobs, and stays over with me on weekends when he has no other plans. Am I in his way?
- Tired of Waiting
There are two reasons why this is NOT a relationship with a future: #1 - your boyfriend is hardly around, even during normal times, and especially when he can be elsewhere instead. #2 - your boyfriend is, so far, incapable of blending his old life and family issues, into his new life as an adult involved with a partner. What you have after six years is an "arrangement"… one that suits him, but is wearing thin for you. Unless he's willing to get counselling to deal with his "private issues" you should stop
waiting and move on.
Tip of the day:
If you want people to ignore your bad record, you need to show you're improving it.