DEAR ANNIE: I’m in a relationship with someone whom I thought would care about and love me. I met this man almost 10 years ago.
My adult son, “Barry,” lives with us, though he will be moving out soon. My partner gets home from work and complains to me about little things Barry does. For instance, he recently complained about how much toilet paper Barry uses and how many times he flushes the toilet. So I talked to Barry about those particular issues, and he shrugged it off and said he didn’t know what my partner meant. I tried talking to my partner again about it, and he said, “Never mind. It’s nothing.” So I let it go.
My adult daughter has been on her own, but now she needs my help. She doesn’t have anywhere to go. My partner said that she’s not welcome to stay at our house overnight. So I drop her off at her friend’s home and pick her up in the morning. She is a young mother of two. I work nights.
He has five children of his own. They are all grown. I treat them the same as I do mine. Whenever they come over, they are very comfortable with me. They stay for hours. And I’m fine with that. I told him that as parents, we are here to help our children if they need help. He has helped his children — buying cars for them, taking vacations with them. I encouraged that. I’ve told him he needs to spend time with his kids. Yet he always makes inappropriate comments about mine, and it hurts. I need your help. Would I be stupid to end this relationship? — Don’t Know What to Do
Dear Don’t Know What to Do: Sometimes an argument about toilet paper isn’t about toilet paper. That is to say, it may be easier for your partner to talk about Barry’s housekeeping issues than about his issue with Barry’s still being in the house. And his frustration on that count doesn’t make him a cold person.
Your partner can love your adult children and not want to live with them. Boundaries aren’t blockades.
So before deciding you’re through, try talking it through — together. Sit down with your partner; share your ideas about what healthy family relationships look like, and ask him about what he thinks they look like. See whether there’s a way you both can agree on to sufficiently support your daughter. If you and he look for common ground, I think you’ll find it.
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