Dear Amy: Nine years ago, my daugh­ter and her hus­band asked me to move with them into a new home. I had been wid­owed for five years, and they felt

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Amy Dick­in­son Send ques­tions via e-mail to askamy@tri­bune.com or write to Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

I should not be alone. (I am now 84 and in pretty good health.)

We all got along very well un­til about six months ago, but I don’t know why. Noth­ing was said openly. They pur­chased a lake house re­cently and spend week­ends at that home. I am not in­vited (nor do I want to be). There are no chil­dren — just the three of us. I do have a lit­tle dog that he does not like — in fact, hates — but I can­not give the dog away.

Lately I get the feel­ing that my sonin-law is not happy with our sit­u­a­tion. He barely speaks to me and mum­bles “good morn­ing” or “good night.” That is the ex­tent of our con­ver­sa­tion un­less I in­sti­gate a con­ver­sa­tion and only get one-word an­swers.

I con­trib­ute to the house­hold, pay rent monthly, clean house, wash their clothes, take care of their dog, etc. I have spent thou­sands of dol­lars on this house and paid a third of the pur­chase price.

Should I speak to my daugh­ter about my feel­ings? She and I get along very well. I feel she knows there is fric­tion here but has not said any­thing to me about it. Should I look for an­other place to live? I don’t really want to live alone, but I will if I have to. Please give me some in­put. — Chal­lenged

Dear Chal­lenged: First this: Your ar­range­ment seems to have worked well for ev­ery­one for nine years. That is a very suc­cess­ful record of peace­ful co­ex­is­tence.

Un­for­tu­nately, each per­son in the house­hold seems ex­tremely averse to bring­ing up a topic — or even ask­ing a ques­tion — that might re­sult in an un­com­fort­able mo­ment or two, and so you have spent the past six months en­gaged in an ex­tremely un­com­fort­able silent stand­off. It is hu­man na­ture to avoid dis­com­fort, but you all have taken it to a new level.

You are a full part­ner in this house­hold — you helped pay for the house and pay rent and ex­penses.

Sit down with both of them (if you can’t man­age to face him, speak with your daugh­ter). Say, “I feel a lot of tension lately; can you tell me what is both­er­ing you? It would be good to clear the air. I miss the way we all used to get along.” This might have started over a very triv­ial house­hold mat­ter. Or it might not have any­thing to do with you — but with work, mar­riage or health dif­fi­cul­ties of theirs. Main­tain an open at­ti­tude, and try not to be de­fen­sive. Read: “Dif­fi­cult Con­ver­sa­tions: How to Dis­cuss What Mat­ters Most,” writ­ten by mem­bers of the Har­vard Ne­go­ti­a­tion Project (2010, Pen­guin).

Dear Amy: About a year and a half ago my grand­son sent me a text out of the blue, telling me how hor­ri­ble I am and say­ing that I anger “ev­ery­one ... in the en­tire fam­ily.”

I am 75 years old and was dev­as­tated and don’t know where he was com­ing from. I have never had a dis­agree­ment with him. I told his fa­ther (my son) about it, and he said it was be­tween me and my grand­son.

I texted him back and told him I was sorry for what­ever I had done and to please call me. I have not heard from him un­til the other day, when I re­ceived a “save the date” card to his wed­ding. I was in shock and do not know what to do or say about it. Should I just go and pre­tend noth­ing was ever said? — Shocked

Dear Shocked: You should plan to go to the wed­ding, but you should also try to understand what is be­hind your grand­son’s out­burst. Call him, of­fer your con­grat­u­la­tions, and ask him yet again to ex­plain what was be­hind his text, in an ef­fort to get be­yond it.

Dear Amy: Your ad­vice to “Con­cerned Rel­a­tive” (whose young rel­a­tive was in a polyamorous re­la­tion­ship) was wise and won­der­ful, with lessons for all of us no mat­ter how we struc­ture our own re­la­tion­ships. Mine hap­pens to be a het­ero­sex­ual mar­riage, but we all know that this type of re­la­tion­ship can have much op­por­tu­nity for hurt of all kinds. — Karla

Dear Karla: As I said in my an­swer, all re­la­tion­ships carry risk — but the more peo­ple in­volved, the greater the risk. Thank you.

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