Amy: Alcoholic in-law's 'yo-yo life' traps mom
- Article by: AMY DICKINSON
- March 28, 2012 - 2:30 PM
Dear Amy: My 31-year-old daughter and her 43-year-old partner have lived together for about four years.
For the past two years, her partner's older brother has lived with them so that he could find a job, sort out marital problems, save money and find his own place.
Initially, my daughter wanted to be helpful, but soon discovered that she was dealing with the yo-yo life and broken promises of an alcoholic.
Her partner has a kind of co-dependent relationship with his older brother and cannot give him the necessary "tough love."
My daughter now has a 10-month-old baby to care for and is very anxious about raising a child around an alcoholic.
Neither brother has any interest in seeking help, and my daughter feels trapped in a situation where she must ask her partner to make a choice between her or the brother. Do you have any advice for her?
Amy says: The problem of being entangled with the yo-yo life of an alcoholic is that the person spinning the yo-yo entangles other people in the string.
Your daughter's partner and his brother don't want to change. Your daughter only has the power to change her own approach, and she needs to be brave enough to confront the anxiety of delivering the "tough love."
She should tell her partner: "The way we are living isn't healthy for me and our child. It's time for your brother to move out so we can concentrate on raising our baby."
If her partner's loyalty to his brother exceeds his willingness to put his partner and child at the center of his life, she may have to prepare herself to leave the relationship.
She may find comfort, community and understanding in Al-Anon (www.al-anon.alateen.org). If her partner won't attend meetings, she should go on her own.Name game
Dear Amy: I am responding to letters in your column about women changing their name when they marry.
My wife, "Jane Smith," kept her name, which made perfect sense to me. We decided to take each other's last name as our middle name, so I am now proud to be Joe Smith Jones (no hyphen).
The funny thing is that when we went before the judge, the judge had no problem with my name change, while my wife had to explain why she was not taking my last name.
When we went to our bank, the manager happily updated my name change on our account, but treated my wife as though she were hiding from the law.
This was 15 years ago. And women are still facing this problem?
Amy says: The unfortunate answer is "yes."Petty complaints
Dear Amy: We gave our sweet daughter a 16th birthday party at a restaurant with about 70 friends and family. It was a lovely event with music, food and fun.
Various relatives tell us -- not that they enjoyed the party -- but that they felt slighted by the seating arrangement and the order of the candle-lighting ceremony.
A paternal great-aunt has actually ceased all contact with our immediate family because she felt she should have been seated with the grandmother (her sister-in-law) instead of her close cousins. Other family members (again paternal) have said they feel slighted because they were given the fourth candle to light, instead of the third.
I find all of this discussion disturbingly petty, selfish and rude.
What can I do or say to make the situation better?
Amy says: I agree with you that these complaints are petty and rude.
You might be able to end the sniping by politely reflecting the complaint back toward the person who made it, i.e., "It is obvious that you continue to be upset about this. But we were happy you were with us on the day. I am sorry you felt slighted. This was certainly not our intention. Can we start fresh?"
After that -- you should consider the matter closed, even if they don't.
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