Dear Amy: My 18-year-old son (who is in high school) has had a girlfriend for the past year. She has placed a huge wedge between us.
When they first started dating, she would come to my house and barely acknowledge my presence and either hang all over him or retreat to his bedroom with him.
When I told him that her behavior was rude and unacceptable, he told me that she has an anxiety disorder and that she would no longer come to my home because I am too hostile to her.
As a result, I never see my son. He goes to her house every day after school.
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When he is home, he is critical of his family and is constantly communicating with her.
When he is with her he ignores my calls or texts.
Now he has sleepovers with her at my ex-husband’s house. He wants to go to a hotel with her.
I have made it quite clear to both my son and his father that this is not acceptable. I am ignored.
Her parents are fine with her sleeping over at his father’s house.
I feel disrespected by my ex, and also by her parents.
I see my son putting off important things and distancing himself from his friends because of her.
Yes, I know I should have pretended to like her, but her initial disrespect was too much for me to ignore. I couldn’t pretend that it didn’t bother me.
How can I fix this situation?
Dear Anxious: Rather than blame every action on your son’s girlfriend, you should urge him to take responsibility for his own actions. They are quite obviously sexually active, and birth control should be at the top of your list of concerns. If they become parents, they will be locked into a relationship together, and if their relationship is not a healthy one (as you claim), this would have a tremendous impact on both families.
Some of your son’s behavior is fairly typical of an intense first love: Ignoring family and friends in favor of the love relationship, trying everything possible to be alone with the person and defending the loved one against criticism or (perceived) disrespect.
So far, you have done just about everything wrong – you have not been able to even fake having an open mind long enough to get to know her. You have put the couple on the defensive. You have made their immature behavior all about you. You have drawn a line in the sand and they are (quite happily) at the beach.
Your son is a legal adult. You should shelve your harsh judgment about this relationship (for now), get to know this girl and her parents as well as you can, take this relationship extremely seriously and behave toward them as if they are a “couple.”
Dear Amy: This is my second marriage. I owned my home before we got married.
My wife and I split expenses 60/40, based on our incomes.
I do not currently have any car or cellphone payments, yet I have been paying 60 percent of my wife’s new car lease and cellphone bills.
I am looking to get another used truck, and asked my wife if she would help pay for it. She said no. She said if she did, then she would not contribute toward our taxes ($7,800).
How do I convince her that sharing in paying the taxes is just another shared expense?
She feels that since it’s my house I should pay the taxes. I pay for any home improvements myself.
What is fair?
Dear Husband: You should redefine what you consider shared expenses. Because cellphones and vehicles come in many different makes and models, with widely varying expenses attached, you and your wife should each pay for your own. Therefore, if she wants a fancy leased car and the latest cellphone and can afford it, she can pay for it.
Household and living expenses should be shared. That includes utilities and property taxes. Your wife is behaving like a tenant, and should perhaps pay rent. Officially co-owning the house would give her more of a stake in your financial partnership.
Dear Amy: I cried when I read the question signed “Lost,” from a father grappling with how to tell his young sons that their (very distant and drug-addicted) mother had died. Thank you so much for advocating telling the truth, in a gentle and compassionate way.
Dear Motherless: I cried, too.