Dear Annie: My fiance, "Derek," and I have been together for four years and recently purchased a home. Here's the problem: Derek's father passed away a year ago, and since then, Derek has been drinking a lot. I'd like to get married and start a family, but I am finding it really difficult to want a life with him.
I have not spoken to anyone about this. I've been trying to work it out with Derek on my own. He'll say that he has to "do better," but within a week, things take a turn for the worse. He can't seem to control the drinking once he starts. I have suggested it might be time to see someone, but he doesn't recognize that there is a serious problem.
Now, Derek has started to blame me for his drinking. He says he resents me because I don't want him to drink. After the last argument, I told him that I was going to move back in with my parents. He stopped for a week and then started up again.
Derek doesn't seem to care about my feelings and clearly isn't willing to "do better," as he keeps promising. I think he tells me what I want to hear, and I have not taken the right steps to show him that I won't put up with it. I don't want to waste four more years dealing with this. What do you recommend? — Ready to Give Up
Dear Ready: You can suggest to Derek that he get grief counseling, since he doesn't seem to be coping well with his father's death. You also can look into Al-Anon (al-anon.org) for yourself. But please don't expect Derek to change for you. Until he demonstrates that he has, in fact, curtailed his drinking for the long term, nothing you say or do will help. You can only do what is best for your own situation. If you believe that moving out will be better for you, don't make idle threats. Do it. Then decide whether you are better off with or without Derek — the way he is.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "The Ones Left Behind," who said that she and her husband raised her three kids with no help from their birth father. Now that the kids are grown, the father is back in the picture and the kids are hungry for his attention. She feels they are leaving her in the dust.
I gave my ex-wife a divorce with no complications. I always paid child support on time. She moved. I paid the plane fare to get my son in the summer. Then she claimed she couldn't get him to the airport and I had to drive down to pick him up. I got a lawyer involved and that made it worse.
I didn't want to tell my son what kind of mother she really was, so I figured I would stay away and maybe he would someday look me up. It's been 25 years. — Brokenhearted
Dear Brokenhearted: We are sorry that you've lost this relationship. But parents without custody must work hard to remain in their children's lives, no matter how difficult the ex makes things. The kids don't know why you have withdrawn. They only know that you no longer seem interested in them, and a vindictive ex will make sure such negative beliefs are reinforced.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie
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Photo credit: Rob Bertholf