Dear Annie: I am 52 years old, have been divorced for 15 years and am currently involved in a relationship with a wonderful man.
“Chuck” lives 80 miles from me, but we have adjusted to the distance and enjoy weekends together. The problem is, he still lives at home with his parents. He’s 53, has never been married and is very spoiled.
We are madly in love with each other. He adores my children and grandchildren.
And he supported me during some difficult times. We have looked at engagement rings, but that’s as far as it has gone. I don’t want to continue this if Chuck has no intention of marrying me. Why invest in a relationship that is going nowhere? Whenever I try to talk to him about it, he avoids the conversation.
I do not want to grow old alone. I am ready to make a commitment, but Chuck isn’t. Should I end this now before it’s too late? I don’t want to wait until his parents die. They are in excellent health, and it could be a long time. — Investing and Confused
Dear Investing: If you are looking for a commitment right now, a 53-year-old man who has never been married and still lives with his parents is probably not a good bet.
This is especially true if he refuses to discuss the subject. Living independently is how people mature and develop, and Chuck has never had that opportunity. Unless he is acting as caregiver for his parents (and it doesn’t seem so), we think you should consider this a wonderful friendship and nothing more.
Dear Annie: I am fed up. Every time my family gets together, the women spend the entire time working while the men sit around and watch TV.
I am so angry about this sexism that I am ready to stop attending these functions.
I don’t believe that women who work full-time jobs should be expected to slave away in the kitchen doing prep and cleanup, while the men show up, eat a delicious meal and then relax on the couch.
I’ve voiced my objections to my mother and sister, but while they agree with me, they do nothing to back up my request for help from my father and brother.
My brother-in-law will give us a hand, but his son plays on the computer.
What advice do you have for me other than to stop participating? — On Strike
Dear On Strike: If you want the menfolk to help out, you have to insist on it, since they obviously aren’t considerate enough to do it voluntarily. Hand your nephew the silverware, and tell him to set the table. Give your brother the plates.
Enlist your brother-in-law as an ally. Ask him to inform the guys that they will be clearing the table and putting leftovers away. Tell him it is good training for his son. Your mother and sister may still choose to do most of the work, but it’s a start.
Dear Annie: Although “Bummed Out” and “Burned Out” were fortunate that their children eventually gave up drugs and got their lives back on track, I have to say that is not always the case.
I am 22 and am taking care of my 13-year-old brother and three-year-old sister. My mother has been in and out of drug rehab multiple times, but she is still using. And my grandparents, in their refusal to give up on her, are still “helping.”
I am so happy I could get my siblings out of this family dysfunction before they had to go through what I did as a child. So to all the enablers out there: Cut your losses. — The Rest of the Family
Dear Rest: We commend you for taking responsibility for your siblings and understand your desire to cut ties. But parents are loath to give up on a child, and on occasion, their efforts pay off. This is why your grandparents still enable your mother.
We hope someday they will find a better way to help her.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.