Dear Annie: For the past five years, I’ve been with the most wonderful woman. “Jane” and I plan to marry, but we haven’t set a date because she has two adult daughters who still live at home, and their future plans are unsettled.
Her younger daughter, “Trudi,” is 24 and recovering from a debilitating gambling problem. Trudi lost her job, got caught stealing family heirlooms and was arrested for drunk driving. Jane eventually kicked her out. Trudi bounced from place to place, landed at a homeless shelter, met an irresponsible young man and got pregnant. At that point, Jane made the difficult decision to bring Trudi back home so she could help raise her grandchild.
Things actually worked out. Trudi is sober and no longer gambling, and she has become a trusted member of the household again. Trudi hasn’t had much opportunity to look for a job. Jane works all day and then goes home to take care of her granddaughter. The other daughter is busy with work, school and a serious boyfriend.
In the past 18 months, intimate relations with Jane have steadily declined. Menopause is a factor, but it’s mostly because she has a lot on her plate. She hasn’t been to my house in months, and when I’m at hers, I try to care for the baby so Jane can sit down and rest. I feel like our relationship is slipping away. We’ve talked briefly about it, but I simply want more than Jane can give. Is this just a rough patch, or is this our new relationship?
Dear Too Much: You sound like a good guy who is trying to help with a stressful situation. Raising a baby is exhausting, and we are certain that Jane appreciates your patience and assistance. Instead of pressuring her for intimacy, ask what she thinks you can do to improve your relationship. She will always have two daughters and a grandchild. Decide whether you can handle that.
Dear Annie: For 30 years, my cousins and I were good friends. We went places together and had lunches. They seemed to enjoy the gatherings as much as I did.
About three years ago, they stopped calling to make a date, leaving it up to me. Not long after that, I discovered they were meeting with my nieces, but not including me. I didn’t understand the reason, but tried not to let it bother me. Now they are including the nieces’ husbands, and I’m still not part of the festivities.
I am deeply hurt and feel ostracized. Family has always been important to me. Most people seem to enjoy my company. Do I pretend this is OK, or do I ignore their existence like they do with me?
Dear Outcast: We can see how this would be hurtful, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. They may simply be waiting for you to schedule the next dinner date and, in the meantime, are enjoying their nieces’ company. Tell them it’s been bothering you and ask if there is a problem that can be resolved.
Dear Annie: I think you missed an opportunity in your response to “Jim in Peoria,” who says his wife won’t let him help around the house.
Jim is involuntarily unemployed, and even though money is apparently not a problem, he needs to feel that he is valued. You should have suggested that he find a nonprofit organization that needs volunteers. He might be able to get work that is related to whatever he did in his previous career, and this might even lead to a paying job down the line. In any case, it is a win-win-win: Jim wins, the nonprofit wins, and his wife wins by having a happier husband.
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