Liv­ing ar­range­ment causes dis­com­fort

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - Amy Dick­in­son You can con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email: [email protected]­dick­in­son.com and fol­low her on Twit­ter @ask­ingamy.

DEAR READ­ERS » Ev­ery year, I step away from the Ask Amy col­umn for two weeks in or­der to work on other writ­ing projects.

En­joy to­day’s “Best Of” col­umn (from 2010).

I’ll be back with fresh Q and A next week.

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 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 ever 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 in­volved — just the three of us. I do have a lit­tle dog that he seems to hate — but I can­not give the dog away.

Lately I get the feel­ing that my son-in-law is not happy with our sit­u­a­tion. He barely speaks to me and mum­bles “good morn­ing” or “good night.”

I con­trib­ute to the house­hold, pay rent, 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 this? 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.

— Chal­lenged

DEAR CHAL­LENGED » First this: Your ar­range­ment seems to have worked well for ev­ery­one for nine suc­cess­ful and peace­ful years.

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 last 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 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).

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