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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. Last year I got a full-time job as a nanny for a wonderful family with two amazing kids. They have been gracious and accommodating, and they have come to treat me as one of their own. They’ve expressed a desire that I stay for two or more years.

My boyfriend and I are making serious plans for the future, including marriage, a house, kids, the works. We’ve moved in together, opened a joint bank account, and are attempting to save for the life we want to build, but my job as a nanny severely restricts my saving options.

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I am beginning the process of looking for a “real” job. As much as I love my “babies,” I’m looking forward to beginning a challenging career in the corporate world. But with the economy being as it is, I don’t know how long it will take me to find one.

Should I tell the family that I am looking for a new job? I don’t want to find one that requires me to begin work immediately, leaving them without child care, but I also don’t want them to assume I’m leaving right away.

A. You don’t say if you agreed to stay with this family for two years — only that they asked you to. Whatever your arrangement, it is reasonable for them to expect you to be honest and to keep them in the loop. They see that you are making changes in your domestic life — surely they will also understand your desire to advance in a career.

There is a risk they could run off to hire another nanny to replace you before you’ve secured other employment, but this is unlikely — they appreciate you and should be happy to employ you as long as you are available.

Tell them: “I love this job and plan to stay here as long as possible, but I have started a job search in the corporate world. I don’t have any prospects yet, but I wanted to let you know.” Assure them that you’ll give them as much notice as possible.

Q. We have a group of longtime married couples who have been friends for many years.

One of the husbands is a harmless flirt. He hugs too long and touches too much. He will try to kiss hello/goodbye on my lips. I turn my head to avoid his kisses, yet he still tries.

He will rub my arm or hold my hand, all the time talking about what good friends we all are. His touching is never inappropriate, just annoying.

I honestly do not think he means anything by this, but it makes me uncomfortable. Once I tried to avoid his hug by telling him I am not much of a hugger, but he hugged me anyway.

I have not expressed myself more strongly because I know his feelings would be hurt. My husband thinks I enjoy the attention because I don’t do enough to make it stop. At my workplace, this would be considered harassment.

How can I subtly convey that I would prefer his touching stop?

A. Don’t be subtle. Your friend doesn’t “do” subtle. Say: “You know I’m not a touchy-feely person and I know that you are. But can you do me a favor and be less physical? It makes me uncomfortable. I really only like to hold my husband’s hand. Thanks for understanding.”

Q. “Grieving MIL” wrote that her son reported he “walks on eggshells” with his controlling wife. If this man is in an abusive marriage, he should get counseling and see a lawyer. I was in such a marriage, and it took me years to be brave enough to leave.

A. If a spouse frightens you and then isolates you from your support system, it is time to get out.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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