DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a 4-year-old daughter and pregnant with my second child.
My boyfriend and I live in a nice house and have a comfortable lifestyle. We each pay our own bills, and I pay half the mortgage that is in his name.
I am extremely unhappy at my job. The job itself isn't the problem; it's the management team and its effect on office morale. They treat us employees like dirt, thus everyone is always fighting with each other. I try to stay out of it, but I am unhappy to the core there. I want to find another job after my maternity leave, but I'm afraid my soon-to-be-fiance won't be willing to pick up the slack financially while I'm temporarily unemployed.
Isn't this the normal give-and-take that "married" couples go through? Shouldn't I expect him to help me if I'm going through a rough patch? Are my expectations unreasonable? -- EXPECTING AND DEPRESSED IN TEXAS
DEAR EXPECTING: I assume that you have discussed this with your boyfriend and he wasn't receptive. Your expectations wouldn't be unreasonable if you were married or at least engaged. But you're not. While you and I think he should help you financially over this rough patch, he may feel no obligation to do so. If that's the case, your not-quite-fiance appears to be treating you like a roommate-with-benefits. Because you are not on the title of the house you pay half the mortgage on, there is no guarantee you will ever have anything to show for your contribution.
In light of that, of course he should be supportive emotionally and financially if you leave your job. Expecting him to step up to the plate is not unreasonable. But whether he agrees with you and me is another matter. Please find out before you invest any more money or he impregnates you again.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are well into a relaxed retirement. His successful, middle-aged son "Rory" has developed the habit of stopping by unannounced occasionally on his way home from work. This would be fine except that it falls in the middle of the dinner hour. Although we ask Rory to join us, he prefers to just stand over us and talk about his day while we eat. This wasn't his childhood home, so it's not a matter of an extended familiarity with this residence.
I have asked his father to speak to him about it, and while he agrees that his son's actions are rude, he refused to say anything. My husband is mild-mannered and seems to be happy that Rory takes the time to see him. To me, it looks like this is the most convenient time for Rory to get the occasional parent visit out of the way while not considering our feelings.
Because I have had a good long-term relationship with my stepson, I took him aside and politely explained that these dinner interruptions are discourteous. Rory blew up at me! I was astonished to see a mature man I respected act in such a childish manner. Now I'm the culprit in a family rift, while my husband remains mute. Should I have focused on digestion and held my tongue? -- DISAPPOINTED STEPMOM
DEAR STEPMOM: Because your husband refused to say anything and won't back you up, it appears the answer is yes. While some people consider the dinner hour to be sacred, not everyone does, and your stepson's visits were only occasional. Your request might have been better received had you told Rory that his hovering makes you nervous, and if he didn't care to share the food you had prepared, you'd appreciate it if he would at least sit at the table with you for everyone's comfort.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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