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DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a wonderful man for two years. He has two grown children, 27 and 21. Both have good jobs and work full-time. I have a son who is 12. The issue is family vacations, and paying for things while on vacation.
I feel that since his children are adults, they should help pay for meals, lodging and activities. I’m not saying pay for the entire bill, but throw in $20 for a meal or even offer to pay for something. Don’t just expect him or me to pay because it’s a family vacation. My 12-year-old paid for his meals on his own because he thinks it’s cool — it made him feel responsible and like an adult. We took a vacation with his 21-year-old, and not once did she offer to pay, or even say thank you.
We get into arguments about this before vacations. I know they’re not my kids, but what he’s teaching them is that Dad will always pay for everything, even when they have families of their own. Please advise. — MIFFED IN MINNESOTA
DEAR MIFFED: Your gentleman friend’s “children” behave this way because they have been taught to by their father, who appears to enjoy being the beneficent provider. If you’re smart, you will quit starting arguments about this because the dynamic isn’t going to change, and he will grow to resent you for it. If you persist, you may wind up ruining your relationship with a “wonderful” man.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have no kids. His family (sister, cousins, etc.) hosts family gatherings two to four times a month. My husband and I both work. My own family does not have many gatherings. I have a hobby I would like to pursue, and I’m considering pursuing it more deeply when I retire. He complains that I want to spend what’s left of our weekend on it.
I can’t seem to get across to my husband that although I like his family, I don’t want to see them to the exclusion of my hobbies and our collective interests. He and his parents expect me at all of these events. I go, and when I do, I have a good time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want time to myself.
Unfortunately, my husband isn’t interested in my hobby. There are other activities we do together, although we don’t have a lot of time for them given his family events. How do I get across to him that he should be supportive? — NEEDING BALANCE IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR NEEDING BALANCE: What you should get across to your husband is that you would have more time to be together if you saw his family less often than four times a month. If that’s not acceptable to him, he can sometimes go without you. Try it and you may find there is more quality time to spend with him on some of those weekends.
DEAR READERS: I wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere — birth mothers, adoptive and foster mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren, and dual-role dads. Orchids to all of you for the love you give not only today, but each and every day. — LOVE, ABBY
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.