Dear Amy: We have two sons, "Paul," 36, and "Michael," 33. Paul finally married his long-term girlfriend "Tasha" after a long and tempestuous relationship marked by bitter breakups and tearful returns — with one arrest along the way.
They dragged the family along on their adventure, and it has not been a pleasant trip.
During one of Paul's breakups, Paul met a very nice girl, "Nancy." We all liked Nancy but Tasha was having none of it. She bulldozed her way back into the picture and that was the end of sweet Nancy. This happened three years ago.
Our youngest son, Michael, lives in a small cabin on our property. He ran into Nancy and (surprise, surprise) they have started seeing each other. They have been out three times and seem to like each other.
He has not had any long-term relationships; he suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, and relationships can be difficult for him. He is really a very kindhearted, soft-spoken, gentle soul.
My husband and I are thrilled he is dating Nancy, but terrified of the consequences when Paul figures this out. Worse yet, when his wife, Tasha, gets wind of this, life will be hell again. She can be quite nasty. A sweet girl like Nancy would be no match for her.
It is summer now and probably the only time they would all be together would be Thanksgiving. Any suggestions?
— Worried mother
Dear Worried: You all need to wait to see if "Michael" and "Nancy" develop a longer-term relationship (three dates may not signify much). If so, Michael should tell his brother privately — and if he asks for your help, you should mentor him from the sidelines.
"Tasha's" behavior might be fuel for your son's passion, but that doesn't mean you need to show the same involvement or tolerance as he does (your comment about "one arrest along the way" puts this relationship in the extreme category).
At this point, you know enough about Tasha to anticipate trouble. This time, don't go along on her thrill ride. Do not engage with her or "Paul" about this, and if either of them harasses Michael or Nancy and you feel they can't protect themselves, then you should stand up to these bullies yourself.
Dear Amy: I love the way you take the "drama" out of questions to which you respond, and focus on the core issues. Thank you.
Dear Larry: "Taking the drama out" is sort of like taking out the trash. Periodically, you have to leave it at the curb.