Q. I’ve been in a relationship with a basically good man (we’re both in our 60s) for three years. We have many things in common and enjoy each other most of the time, but some of his behavior is very difficult and tiring to deal with.
If he makes a mistake of any sort, he becomes angry and often throws the offending item (never at me). He hates to admit he’s done anything wrong and has lied numerous times.
At his place he keeps everything very neat. At my place he couldn’t care less (although he will offer to help me when I ask him for assistance). We’ve had many conversations about his attitude and behavior, and he says he most certainly will take care of it. That lasts about two days.
He becomes so negative at times that it just wears me out. We’ve talked about that as well.
I’m really becoming so tired of it all, but I don’t want to give up before asking your advice.
What am I missing here? Is there any hope that he will correct any of this?
A. Your account of this relationship is that your guy is negative, deficient, angry, and inconsiderate. He is a project in need of constant correction, and then he is either too set in his ways or negligent to stay corrected.
It sounds like he is trying, but he just can’t get there. You are locked in a ridiculous and exhausting dynamic with him. Not only is this not good for you, but imagine how he feels to be such a consistent disappointment (according to you).
If you want to stay in this relationship, your choices are to either accept his considerable flaws and go all in with him — as is — or draw up a short list of non-negotiables. Let him know what they are. And let all the other stuff go.
If someone throwing an object in anger is one of your non-negotiables (it would be on my list, unless said object is a basketball), then the next time this happens, you’re done. If being lied to is on your list of non-negotiables (again, this would be on my list), and if you get lied to, then you’re done. And you don’t go back.
Q. I have a daughter who is 26 years old. She has a 15-year-old sister from her mother (my ex-wife; we don’t know who this girl’s father is).
My daughter brought her sister home to stay with us because my ex-wife was very abusive to her. She now lives with me and my wife.
How do I present her to my friends and other people in our lives without calling her something made up, like “niece” or “stepdaughter,” etc.?
A. First of all, I give you so much credit for trying to be a hero to this teenager. I hope you will work hard to get your family any extra help you might need. If this girl has been living in a home so abusive that she needed to leave it, she would probably benefit from counseling — privately and also with your family. Family counseling can help everyone learn to communicate through challenging situations.
You should introduce this girl by her name: “This is ‘Tiffany,’ she is ‘Tasha’s’ sister, and she’s living with us now.”
People who know you will easily figure out what is what. People who don’t know you well don’t need to know the particulars of this girl’s parentage, only that she is a part of your household.Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her