Q. My 36-year-old stepson, “Greg,’’ acts as if he’s married to my husband. It’s like a constant battle to outdo me. When my husband and I go on vacation, Greg whines to Daddy that he never takes him anywhere. On Wednesday, which is Greg’s day off, he will plan something for lunchtime so my husband will be gone while I’m home. I work second shift. Greg has been horribly spoiled by his mother and father and thinks he’s entitled to everything. I have quite a few grandkids, and Greg doesn’t like that his dad spends time with them.
I’m ready to snap. For any holiday, Greg will tell his dad where to take him to eat and say, “And don’t bring her!’’ My husband will never stick up for me, and if I try to say something about any of this, he tells me he doesn’t want to hear it. Help, please! – Frustrated With Ungrateful Kid
A. It sounds as though you’re more frustrated with your husband’s refusal to stick up for you than you are with anything else. You have to talk with him about how your feelings are hurt when Greg says he does not want you there. Tell your husband that you don’t want to have to fight for his time and attention. And to this same end, make sure that you are not being competitive with Greg. For instance, if Greg values his dog almost as a child, you should allow him that and not put down his father’s giving the dog some presents. Instead, focus on the attention and love your husband gives to your grandchildren and tell him how much you appreciate it. Your husband tries hard to please Greg and your grandchildren. All that’s left is for him to treat you the same way.
Q. I am 56 years old. When I was 44, my wife and I divorced after 17 years of marriage. I think we were lovely parents to two amazingly independent and strong daughters. They are now 22 and 26.
I feel that I was married at the perfect age, 28, and my wife was 25. We had a very good run, and we did a good job of co-parenting after we divorced, when the girls were teens. We always tried to take the high road. I always tell people to try to be courteous to their ex-spouses.
Anyway, the funny thing is I have not dated once in those 12 years, because I sense pitfalls and know about age gap problems, and sometimes I do that goofy formula that says the appropriate age to date is half yours plus seven years (or older). Women that age have actually asked me on dates, but I’ve refused.
I am wondering whether we live in an age when I can get my social fill in my time at the Y, swimming and in coffee shops, socializing as the extrovert that I am. Could that be the new norm? -- Happy Bachelor
A. If all your issues with dating have been related to age, why not date someone in the same stage of life as you? Match.com, eHarmony and other dating sites allow you to set age ranges, and OurTime.com is a dating site exclusively for people over 50.
If dating simply doesn’t appeal to you, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life without a romantic partner. What matters is that you’re happy and that you have a healthy social life, and it sounds as if both of those things are true.
Dear Annie: Thanks for saying people who are often late tend to be optimists. I appreciate that characterization, especially because I often cut things very close – although I usually make it just in time.
I want to share the technique used by many I know for dealing with people who are chronically late: Tell them everything starts earlier than it does. That way, they arrive on time, and you don’t have to sit around waiting.
If you know the person is always late and value the person’s friendship, it’s easy to take that into account and adjust your own attitude and behavior. Appreciate the person’s good qualities, and forgive the annoying ones. All of us have something we do that bothers someone else. – Ellen
Dear Ellen: Indeed, we do – and I’d be out of a job if we didn’t.
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