DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a loving and supportive man for 15 years. We have been through a lot together and, for the most part, have been OK. My problem is my son, "Kyle."
Yes, I know Kyle is a liar who steals anything not nailed down. And yes, he needs help for his drug habit -- but he is still my son.
My husband told me I either tell Kyle he is not welcome in our home or our marriage is over, so I gave him back my wedding ring. I refuse to tell my son he can't come over.
What do I do now? I don't want to lose my husband, but I refuse to lose my son as well. -- TORN IN TWO IN TULSA
DEAR TORN IN TWO: If you love your son and your husband and value your marriage, you will tell your husband you spoke hastily and ask for the ring back. Then, you will finally put your foot down and stop enabling Kyle to continue his drug habit.
Tell Kyle he is no longer welcome in the house, and will be welcome to cross your threshold only if he has completed rehab and is willing to make amends. This is called creating boundaries. It may be painful, but it is important that you find the strength and courage to do this because your son's life may depend on it.
DEAR ABBY: I recently graduated from college, and like a lot of fresh graduates, I had difficulty finding employment for several months. However, I was just offered a position far better than anything I could have asked for. This position is much closer to my dream job than a simple entry-level one, and I am over-the-moon happy. The problem is my partner, "Gavin."
Gavin graduated the semester before I did. He was in a different degree program, and he's still without a job. He applies for dozens of jobs a day, gets at least one interview a week, and then, after they ask about his less-than-stellar GPA, he never hears from them again. He has become increasingly frustrated about his inability to find employment in his field, and recently has been projecting his frustration on our relationship.
I want to be able to celebrate my accomplishment with my partner. I need Gavin's support and excitement for me over this new position, but I'm torn because every time I tell him a new detail about it, I can see in his face how upset he is. What can I do so I am not compromising my happiness trying not to upset him? -- WORKING WOMAN IN ORLANDO, FLA.
DEAR WORKING WOMAN: The first thing I'd recommend is, out of respect for your partner's sensitive feelings, to refrain from crowing about your jubilation. It may take Gavin a while to find the job he's looking for in his field, or he may have to consider taking something outside of his field until he can network enough to find his dream job.
No two people's career paths are the same. Witness the Hollywood marriages in which one spouse becomes successful more quickly than the other. However, if you and Gavin are sensitive to each other's feelings -- and mature -- you can make it through this challenging period.