DEAR AMY: My wife and I don’t see eye to eye about what it means to have your spouse’s back. Our son is 21. He just had a baby with his girlfriend, who just turned 18. They live with her parents. He left our house because he didn’t want to live under our rules once he turned 18. I spoke to the girlfriend’s father, telling him not to let our son stay there. I wanted him to learn what it means to be out in the real world in order to humble him. Yet he let my son move in anyway, since he does whatever his wife and daughter tell him to do. My wife and I both hate his girlfriend and the way she treats our son, but my wife plays along and is fake in her interactions with them just so she can stay in her son’s life. I choose not to speak to them or set foot in their home. My wife has now done both of those things and I feel she’s not showing loyalty to me. Is it too much to ask that she not set foot in their house? The other parents and I do not get along, and it has almost come to blows, yet my wife thinks it is OK to spend time in their home to see her son and grandson. The day of the baby’s birth they were talking about me but I just ignored it for my wife and son’s sake. It was hard. My wife can’t understand why I am upset about her being over there. Am I right to feel like this — or am I being a jerk? — Furious
DEAR FURIOUS: Because you asked, I will say that, yes, you are being a jerk. Yes, spouses should have one another’s back. But here’s the rub: You don’t control the people in this drama. Your wife wants to have a relationship with her son and grandson. And because they evidently are not welcome in your home, she is doing what she needs to do in order to have that relationship. You aren’t willing to support her efforts — but you should understand her desire and “have her back” while she tries. You cannot influence other people if you don’t ever spend time with them. You say your son’s girlfriend mistreats him — but she is there and you are not. I don’t believe that parents should let their children walk all over them, but the walls you have put up are too high to breach. I hope you will rethink your non-negotiables.
DEAR AMY: I am going through a divorce and recently started seeing a great guy. Things are getting serious and I am happy. My friends and family are thrilled I am divorcing my ex; the relationship was abusive for 15 years and the last five have just been hell. Now that I am seeing someone, everyone thinks I am rebounding. I keep hearing, “Be safe, have fun,” but no one understands that this might be a serious relationship. How do I help them to stop worrying about me? — Over It
DEAR OVER IT: You need to develop some insight into what it is like to watch a loved one who is in an abusive relationship. It is the essence of powerlessness. Understand and accept that your loved ones are worried about you. You should take things slow and steady. Let your friends and family get to know your new boyfriend. You two will prove over time that this is a relationship to celebrate, but you need to be patient with those who want the very best for you.
DEAR AMY: I was disappointed in your response to “Ready to Go,” the husband who had been hiding a substantial investment profit from his wife. You blamed the wife for going on a spending spree once she had learned of this money. But this is about trust — he hid this from her and she is retaliating. — Disappointed
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: You are right — both parties were acting in ways that do not promote trust between a married couple. I hope they work this out.