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Ask Amy

Ask Amy column

Q. I’m a 22-year-old male. I’ve been with my woman for four years. We have a 2-year-old daughter together and are expecting another child soon.

Three years ago I was unfaithful. She found out. Ever since, the trust has been lost. Over the years we have gotten better as a couple, but then we slumped back down into a bad spot. Things have been bad lately.

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I have not been happy in this relationship for a long while, and recently she saw I was texting a new female friend of mine. She thinks I’ve been flirting/cheating on her even though there’s no proof of this.

She said, “We need a break,” and she is staying at her mom’s house (for an undetermined time). Since she’s been gone I’ve felt happier. I find it easier to talk to my new female friend about random things, important things (and even personal things) than my own girl!

I almost feel like breaking up would be best. I don’t even feel sad or upset that all of this has happened.

Am I thinking wrong? I’m worried about my kids, but I don’t believe people should stay together for the kids because kids can see unhappiness in a household, the way I did when I was young.

If my kids see us apart (but both happier), isn’t that better than seeing us together and miserable?

A. Why, at age 22, do you already have two children who will have no memory or experience of their parents being together? My first recommendation is for you to make a commitment to use birth control from now on.

You seem to imagine that as long as you are getting what you want, the other people in your life will be fine. I have news for you: This scenario really only works out for you. You aren’t sad over the breakup of this relationship because you already have another girlfriend.

My most constructive feedback for you is to put your children first. Every single choice you make should be made with their best interests as your first priority. When you truly choose to see the world through their eyes, your own life will come into focus.

Q. I am being pulled in many directions. I am in my late 50s and have a part-time job, which I like. However, I am an only child with a mother who is terminally ill.

I have a grown daughter with emotional problems who is currently unemployed. My husband is semiretired, and he would like to spend more time with me. Also, one of my dogs is dying of cancer.

I am already on antidepressants, but there are some days that I wish I could just crawl into a hole and never come out. Is there anything I can do to make my situation more bearable?

A. These stressful and sad times call for “self-care,” and the most basic way to take care of yourself is to get help.

Perhaps your daughter could be more helpful with your mother. Rather than see your husband as yet another person tugging on your sleeve, you should enlist him in your efforts to balance your compelling and competing family pressures. If you two worked as a team, you would feel less depleted because every day you would know that there was somebody out there who has your back.

No one can shoulder the personal grief of losing a parent (or a pet) for you, but if this burden is shared, you will feel less stressed, depressed, and alone.

You can contact Amy Dickinson via e-mail at askamy@tribune
.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.

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