Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - by Amy Dick­in­son

Dear Amy: My daugh­ter was re­cently en­gaged to a won­der­ful young man. We love him like our own son. His mother, how­ever, is an al­co­holic. My daugh­ter has told me that when drunk (which is

ap­par­ently of­ten, if not daily) she is ver­bally abu­sive to her three chil­dren, telling them they are worth­less, call­ing them hor­ri­ble names, etc.

My daugh­ter’s fi­ance has dis­tanced him­self from his mother, but now a wed­ding is on the hori­zon. He has told my daugh­ter that he does not want his mother there. At a re­cent bridal shower for his sis­ter (which my daugh­ter at­tended), his mother caused a drunken scene and yelled ob­scen­i­ties.

I to­tally un­der­stand my fu­ture son-in-law not want­ing one of the most im­por­tant days of his life ru­ined, and feel that it is his call to de­cide if he wants his mother present. How should they han­dle this? Should he han­dle it him­self ? Would it be hor­ri­ble not to in­vite her?

She is still with her hus­band (he sounds like an en­abler) and has been in and out of mul­ti­ple re­habs, to no avail.

What is your ad­vice? — Wor­ried Fu­ture Mother-in-law

Dear Wor­ried: The way your daugh­ter and her fi­ance should han­dle his mother is to try to re­spond with grace and com­pas­sion, while not let­ting her ad­dic­tion run the show.

If the fi­ance feels strongly that his mother should not at­tend his wed­ding, then the cou­ple should hold hands and tackle this to­gether. They should be mind­ful, how­ever, that their choice might fur­ther di­vide his fam­ily, as his fa­ther and sib­lings will be forced to make a se­ries of choices re­gard­ing their own pres­ence at the wed­ding.

It might be pos­si­ble for the cou­ple to make some very com­mon­sense rules re­gard­ing hav­ing her at the wed­ding. For in­stance, they can tell her that if she be­comes dis­or­derly she will be es­corted home im­me­di­ately. A fam­ily mem­ber or friend can be asked to take on this chore — some peo­ple hire se­cu­rity to es­cort peo­ple away from their re­cep­tion and see them safely home.

Un­der­stand that she has an ill­ness that af­fects ev­ery per­son in her cir­cle (in­clud­ing you). All of her chil­dren (and her hus­band) should at­tend an Al-anon sup­port group, where they can meet and com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers whose lives are up­ended by a loved-one’s drink­ing.

You should do your very best not to judge or make un­kind as­sump­tions about this fu­ture in-law. Lis­ten sup­port­ively, but de­tach from all of their choices.

Dear Amy: I am a sin­gle mother of three who has been dat­ing a sin­gle fa­ther of one for over a year.

We are both 41 and fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent. Our re­la­tion­ship has been great and he is nearly ev­ery­thing I am look­ing for in a part­ner — in­tel­li­gent, witty, car­ing, gen­er­ous and good with my boys. There is, how­ever, a big is­sue. He has never been mar­ried. He was in a re­la­tion­ship with his child’s mother for eight years, and they lived to­gether.

Twice dur­ing the course of our re­la­tion­ship I have at­tempted to dis­cuss where he saw this “go­ing” — liv­ing to­gether, mar­riage, etc. His re­sponse both times was vague and eva­sive, even bor­der­ing on hos­tile, although I was left with the im­pres­sion that he may be open at some un­des­ig­nated point in time. The term he used was when he “grows up.”

Am I be­ing un­rea­son­able to ex­pect a more sat­is­fy­ing dis­cus­sion on this sub­ject? I feel like at this point he should know one way or the other whether I am what HE is look­ing for and, if so, he should con­vey that to me. — Con­fused Girl­friend

Dear Con­fused: The stakes are ob­vi­ously dif­fer­ent for you than for him. As the mother of three, you are fo­cused on your fam­ily’s fu­ture, and you don’t want to spend time dat­ing some­one un­less there is a se­ri­ous com­mit­ment in the off­ing.

You know what you want. He has con­veyed to you what and where he is in his own life. I sug­gest that you be­lieve him when he clearly states that he is a lit­tle boy who doesn’t want a se­ri­ous com­mit­ment.

If you want this type of com­mit­ment, you’ll need to find it with some­one else.

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