Q: I gave birth to a baby girl two months ago. I have a wonderful husband, and my in-laws are incredible. We live far away from both sides of the family.
My mom is a former cocaine and prescription pain meds addict. Her addiction diminished her mental capacities, and it’s difficult to relate to her because the only things she can talk about are her health issues and all the medications she’s currently taking.
Mom recently came to visit us. I hadn’t seen her in two years, and when she did, I realized we have nothing in common. She and my dad are still happily married, and Dad has yet to meet my child. I’m supposed to visit them for the holidays, but I’d rather spend the time with my in-laws. Any suggestions? — Nothing in Common in Hawaii
A: Yes. Sometimes it’s important to do things we would rather not because they are the right thing to do. Your father is trying to make the best of a difficult situation, and your mother is working to overcome a serious illness, which addiction is.
Make the scheduled visit you committed to, and give your dad the chance to meet his grandchild. If, after that, you decide to permanently distance yourself from your parents, it will be your choice, but you may change your mind.
Q: My boyfriend of five years, “Jack,” is funny, unique and generally very sweet. I’m currently on disability and working hard to get myself healthy enough to start working again. The problem is, Jack thinks I do nothing but sit on my butt all day.
When I worked, we used to trade massages to make each other feel relaxed because our jobs were physically demanding. Now, because I’m not working, he says it’s my “job” to help him relax. I give him a massage every night, but it’s never reciprocated. When I ask him for one, he puts no effort into it and acts like it’s a chore.
I no longer feel loved or special. I feel like a live-in masseuse, but I’m worried that if I stop, there will be no physical contact at all between us. What would be the best way to let him know I’m tired of it? — Rubbed the Wrong Way in Minnesota
A: Jack doesn’t sound all that “sweet” to me. Because you feel the way you do, tell him how his change of behavior is affecting you. Touch is important because it helps partners to stay connected. Could it be that Jack’s unwillingness to give you massages is “punishment” because you’re not contributing financially as you did while you were working?
Tell him that you miss the closeness you once shared, and that if the shoe were on the other foot, you wouldn’t treat him this way. Depending on what he has to say, suggest that for the sake of your relationship, a compromise may be in order because your partnership is not equal now.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.