Dear Amy: My daughter is nearly 30 and has been living with her boyfriend for four years. They have a sweet and respectful relationship, and we like him very much. He is very busy outside of work, and she has completed an advanced degree and landed a terrific job. She wants kids eventually, and she has told her boyfriend that.
He recently told her he’s not sure he wants children and still has no wish to get married.
My daughter is hurt, but she is also wise enough to know that ultimatums don’t work. Recently, she asked me for advice, and I tiptoed around it, but I wanted to scream: “Get out! Don’t waste another second of your precious youth with this guy.”
I don’t really blame him for being on a different timetable, but the reality is that I don’t want to have any more to do with him. My daughter has generally conducted her life beautifully.
My friends continually carp on the fact that she is not engaged, and the reason that this carping gets to me is that I agree: She deserves to be engaged and to have every good thing in life. But my husband has pointed out that I have some personal stake here and some feeling of rejection myself.
Amy, should I tell my daughter what I really think and urge her to leave him, or should I back off and watch this play out?
Amy says: Let’s revisit your friends who “continually carp” about your daughter’s marital status. Nobody — certainly not friends — should offer unsolicited third-party expertise.
Your daughter deserves better — much, much better — than to be engaged to someone who doesn’t want to get married and settle into family life with her. Don’t promote an engagement.
If she asks you point-blank for advice, you should say, “He is being honest with you. You want completely different things in life. You should act according to your own values; life is too short to give up on the things you want.”
You should not cast personal aspersions on her guy (not yet, anyway). You should only guide her toward an answer. She needs to do the rest herself.
Forging a connection
Dear Amy: I am a 58-year-old man with two sons in their 30s. The youngest son and I have been estranged for many years. His mother and I were divorced 20 years ago, and although I know I could (and should) have done things better/differently regarding them, I did the best I could at the time. It didn’t help that they were “poisoned” by their mother, who hated me.
The youngest son’s fiancée contacted me, saying she would try to forge some sort of relationship, which I immediately agreed to. I have e-mailed him (he does not wish to talk to me) many times, for almost two years now, with no response.
Should I just let it/him go? I know if I wait for him, it will continue as it is now.
Amy says: Your son does not want to be in contact with you, but I don’t think you should necessarily give up on him. It is a very delicate dance, however.
Don’t overwhelm him with e-mail messages. Keep your contact simple: “Hi, I’m reaching out, wondering how you are. I’d really like to connect with you and hope that will be possible. I respect your privacy but want you to know that I have never stopped thinking and caring about you.”