DEAR ABBY: I am in a relationship with someone I graduated from school with, so we have known each other for a number of years. We are both divorced. Because I'm an only child, my mother has always been protective and controlling. She hasn't recovered from my divorce, although it happened more than 10 years ago, and constantly finds fault with my current relationship.
She argues with me almost weekly that I should get married because it "looks bad for her" that I live with this man, and "in the sight of God this isn't right." One minute she doesn't want me in a relationship, the next she's telling me I need to be married. I respect her beliefs, but don't think we should get married just because she wants us to.
I was married long enough to realize that a piece of paper doesn't make it right, so why force the issue? I love my mother, but her nagging is making it extremely difficult not only for me but for my relationship. How do I handle this?
- Stressed-out only child
DEAR STRESSED OUT: You may be an only child, but you are a child no longer. You are entitled to live your life the way you wish.
While there are legal protections for a wife that a live-in does not enjoy, if you prefer not to formalize your relationship, you should not be pressured into it. The next time your mother starts in, tell her firmly you will not argue the point and change the subject.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a single mother of three kids, ages 10, 8 and 7. Their father and I have been divorced for two years. He moved 300 miles away and sees the kids mainly in the summer and on holidays. He has remarried, and she has children as well.
My problem is my kids feel he treats her children better than he treats them. I try hard not to badmouth him, but from what they tell me it's a one-way street. He has told our kids that he loves them more than I do, and that he wishes he didn't have to pay child support. It hurts me to see them hurt.
What can I do? We don't have a good relationship. He refuses to listen to anything I say. I don't want the kids to hate their father, but unless he changes, they will. They have already asked me if they can talk to the judge to get their visits made fewer and shorter.
- Protective mom in Virginia
DEAR PROTECTIVE MOM: You cannot control the behavior of another adult, much as you might wish to. Your children are intelligent and they have already gotten the picture. Unfortunately, they are still too young to be able to convince a judge to shorten their visits or spend time with their dad less often. But as they enter their early teens they will be. Help them to be patient and ride it out in the meantime, because they have no other option.
DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law is demanding to know why I won't accept her friend request on Facebook. Personally, I don't consider her a friend and prefer not to allow her access to my Facebook page. How can I politely and honestly answer her questioning?
- Prefer to decline
DEAR DECLINE: Because she is forcing the issue, be forthright and answer her question by telling her that while she may be your sister-in-law, you do not feel personally close enough to her to be comfortable having her review your activities and thoughts on a daily basis.