DEAR ABBY: My husband’s nephew, “Jacob,” is 25 and always hanging around our house. He has had a hard time over the last four years. First, his mom committed suicide. Two years later his dad died in his sleep.
My husband and I told Jacob we would be there when he needed advice about things. Well, he recently broke up with his longtime girlfriend, and he’s here at my house every day, even days he’s not working. He calls every afternoon to see what I’m cooking and expects to eat here every night. He also expects me to drop what I’m doing to go and clean his house and wash his clothes.
I’m disabled, so it’s a struggle just to feed my husband and myself. He also sleeps here on the weekends if he doesn’t work. My husband and I no longer have any alone time because he’s always here.
I have tried to tell Jacob nicely that he needs his own life, but the message isn’t getting through. I know he has issues with being alone. He has never learned to be by himself. My husband is starting to get angry about the situation and wants me to “handle” it, but my words are not working. If my husband decides to say something, it will end up in a heated argument.
How can I get through to this kid without hurting him? I do love him and try to treat him like one of my own kids. — Upset Aunt
DEAR AUNT: Talk to Jacob again. This time do it in plain English. Your nephew’s dependence on you has persisted for too long, and for everyone’s sake it needs to stop. If you haven’t suggested grief counseling for him, you should. Explain that you love him, but you and your husband need time to be alone together. Point out that if he’s unable to do his own housecleaning and laundry, he should hire someone. Do not feel guilty for speaking up. You have done more than enough for Jacob over the last few years, and for him to expect you to cook for him every night and weekend is over the top.
DEAR ABBY: My husband quit chewing tobacco, but now he chews gum constantly, three pieces at a time. If he’s not asleep or eating, his jaw is moving. He chews it aggressively, rolls it around in his mouth while talking, so that it looks bad and is irritating.
He works with the public, and I’m embarrassed for him because I believe it’s bad manners to chew gum in that manner. I don’t know how to approach him. Please advise as to how I can help him. — Embarrassed for Him in California
DEAR EMBARRASSED: Your husband chews the way he does because he is trying to ease the pangs of withdrawal from his nicotine addiction. Because what he’s doing is unsightly, suggest he discuss it with his doctor to see if there are other options such as a nicotine patch to help him over the hump. And be sure to tell him how proud you are of his determination to quit.
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