DEAR ABBY: I am in my late 20s and dating a man in his mid-30s whom I am crazy about. We have been dating for a year and are starting to discuss marriage and children. He’s kind, hard-working, gives back to the community, and does everything he can to make me happy.
My problem is his family. His mother curses and yells at him every few months, usually around the holidays when he tells her he’s splitting his time between his family and mine. She breaks him down any way she can, such as finding fault with me or bringing up mistakes he made 10 or 15 years ago.
His sister tells him often that she doesn’t like me because of things she claims I said or did. She has also attacked me on social media. The rest of the family gets involved in the drama and even blackmailed him (insinuating they would get him fired) when he tried to ignore them. A week or so after these outbursts occur, his family pretends nothing happened.
He admits his family has “issues,” but he still wants a relationship with them. I try to limit my time with them, but I’m worried about our future. He would make an amazing husband, but I am unsure how – or if – I can get past his toxic family. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. – Happily Ever After?
DEAR HAPPILY: I can see why you would question a future with a man from a family that guilts, manipulates and lies to the degree that his does. Whether you can overcome the baggage he will carry after you leave the altar is debatable. It might help if the two of you discuss this not only with each other, but also with a clergy person who can give you unbiased premarital counseling. If you do get married, consider moving farther away from his family to secure your independence. He may also have to find another job if he’s under their thumb financially.
DEAR ABBY: My teenage son came to us because he feels lonely and like no one cares. He says he knows his family is there for him and loves him, but he’s looking for that special girl. I talked to him and tried to let him know that right now he needs to focus on himself and where he wants to go with his life, and eventually he will meet someone.
He has now told me that he has had thoughts of hurting himself and wants to talk with a counselor. We have made an appointment for him.
My question is, is it a good sign that he is seeking help now before he has done anything? He hasn’t harmed himself in any way, doesn’t use drugs, doesn’t drink or engage in risky behavior. I want to believe that since he is asking early, all will be OK. – Very Concerned Mom in Arizona
DEAR MOM: It’s appropriate to believe that. Kudos to your son. The people you have to worry about are the ones who hide their sadness and pretend everything is OK when it really isn’t.
I assume that you made an appointment for your son with a licensed mental health professional. When your son goes, encourage him to be as open with his therapist about his feelings as he can, so he can get the help he is asking for.