DEAR CAROLYN: My retired boyfriend's 45-year-old son has lived with us for two years and doesn't want me there. He gets drunk almost every day, works sporadic jobs, and he and my boyfriend smoke pot all day, every day, which drives me nuts, although I've learned to live with it. Son will inherit house when my boyfriend dies, and it seems to me he is just biding his time, taking advantage of his dad by not paying rent, food, utilities, etc., and playing on his sympathies and soft nature, until Dad kicks the bucket. At which point I would be immediately kicked out, of course. I have several empty boxes for my stuff should that happen suddenly. I try to avoid the son, but it is a small house and not always possible. I love my boyfriend and he loves me but he likes to just cruise along, high most of the time, peace and love. I don't know how many more years I can continue to live this way. I want to move to another state that I prefer anyway, as my job is in high demand everywhere. Should I leave someone I love who loves me, or stay in a hostile, drug- and alcohol-filled environment?
ANONYMOUS: The snark began rising in me at your second sentence, and is now pushing at my fingertips. "It's obvious," it wants to say, "your reluctance to forsake this Camelot."
But it's not appropriate. "[S]omeone I love who loves me" is not to be lightly dismissed. And you have a secure, if uncomfortable, home. This is also nothing to be flippant about, especially now. And you aren't young, yes? So starting over is still possible mid-pandemic, but your margin for error might be smaller than either of us realizes.
Clearly inertia and rationalization are at work here, not just love, but I also wonder if you aren't somewhat anchored by concern for your boyfriend. There's a predatory element to the son, as you've described him.
So I am still inclined to answer as the snark would — get! out! — but with great caution. Prioritize your security, research your options first.
And consider your boyfriend's well-being, too. Would it behoove you to take him with you? Would he go? Instead of leaving the house upon his death, perhaps he'll leave the house now to postpone it.
DEAR CAROLYN: I am recently retired. I had a demanding but very lucrative job. My wife did not work outside the home. We prospered largely because while I made the money, she did everything else. Kids, home, finances, you name it. She is wonderful and we have a great family.
Recently, she has been complaining that now that I am not working, it's time to do more chores at home. I know she is right, but I don't want to go from big job to domestic help. Am I being a jerk?
RETIRED: Yes. Stop it.
Your wife had a demanding job, got no money for it and never gets to retire.
So don't do "more" chores, don't "help." Carry your entire share of the domestic weight, because anything less says you care more about your ego than you do about her.
If Nelson Mandela could make his own bed, then certainly you can, too.