DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year, but I haven’t met his mom yet. We’re both in our mid-20s and currently live near our parents. This is a tough situation because his mother suffers from an undiagnosable condition that has left her homebound and unable to perform many of what we consider normal daily duties. My boyfriend has told me many times that when he has approached the topic with her, she has been very interested in him bringing me by the house. One time we even had set plans to do so and then she backed out a couple of days before. I’ve spent a lot of time over this year being somewhat offended. I just can’t help it. I realize that she is going through something that I can’t ever truly understand and that she is self-conscious about the reality of it. I also realize that there are some underlying mental health issues that have been created because of her inability to leave her home or interact with others. I hate feeling this way because I understand that she is really struggling, but our relationship has gotten very serious and I worry that I won’t even meet her until our wedding day, if it gets that far. I want her to know that I am very much in love with her son and that I care about her deeply, too. I also want to stop feeling offended that she has made little effort to meet me because I know it’s not completely her fault. Do you have any advice that could help me in this situation?
Longing to Meet Mom
DEAR LONGING: You and I are both guessing about this woman’s condition, but I doubt it is “undiagnosable.” It is undiagnosed, however, or at least you haven’t been told her diagnosis.
I also assume that her mental health issues are not a result of her isolation, but possibly the cause of it.
She might be agoraphobic, a hoarder, alcoholic, depressed or have any number of other health issues affecting her ability to meet you.
Whatever her malady, you are making a mistake to take this personally. She was this way before you came along and she may not improve without treatment.
You might have some success if you contact her via social media, email or postal mail. Don’t pile on the guilt (this will only make things harder for her), but keep things light and let her know that you are very happy in your relationship with her wonderful son.
Although it is obvious that you and your boyfriend need to communicate more frankly and fully, I hope you won’t pressure him or his mother about meeting. You should instead encourage him to help her obtain the health care she needs. As you contemplate a future together, she will be a part of it, even if you don’t spend time with her.
DEAR AMY: I like to travel. When I travel, I fly first/business class. If I decide to travel with someone, I like to sit with my travel companion so I have someone to talk to and plan things with. That’s why you have the companion, right? If he/she doesn’t want to travel first/business class, should I offer to upgrade the person’s class so we can sit together and enjoy the “getting there and back” portion of the trip together? Or do we just sit separately? What’s the protocol?
DEAR TOM: I’m not sure this is a protocol question, but more of a friendship question. If you and a friend agree to travel together and you have the coin to afford first-class travel, you should travel the way you want to.
It would be most gracious for you to offer to upgrade your companion’s seat so you can clink your Champagne glasses together, but it is not required. Some people prefer a “cone of silence” when they fly, even if it is in coach.
DEAR AMY: “Confused in California” said he wanted to combine finances with his future wife, and you agreed. I strongly disagree. Couples should keep some savings of their own. You just never know what is going to happen down the line.
Keeping it Separate
DEAR SEPARATE: I agree that couples should have separate savings, but combining finances means that they will co-own their home and cooperate on major bills. No matter what, it is important to discuss money and finances, and agree on some basics before marriage.