Ask Amy: Conflict aversion leads to tough breakup
Dear Amy: I recently broke up with my boyfriend of over four years.
Although we love and complement each other well, the relationship was not progressing.
When we started dating, we were on the same page about wanting to get married someday.
I have two children from a previous marriage. Several times over the last two years I’ve suggested he spend more time with them. He knows this is important to me. However, he is not interested in doing this.
When I asked if he enjoyed the interactions with my children, he said that he didn’t and that he only spent time with them so that I wouldn’t get mad at him.
Whenever I tried to discuss any future plans, such as moving in together, he said “I don’t want to talk about it.”
He claims that he feels discouraged about our future because of minor disagreements we’ve had in the past.
I’ve done everything I can to learn and grow from those moments.
All couples have disagreements, but he says he doesn’t like any conflict. Whenever I raise an issue, he takes it as a personal insult, which derails any resolution.
Obviously, communication is very challenging. I felt that he was sabotaging the relationship.
We are both taking the break-up really hard.
I have been patient and understanding, but it’s hard for me to continue in a relationship with no future.
Am I wrong for breaking off an otherwise good relationship because of a communication problem? — Worried and Wondering
Dear Worried: I do believe you’ve made some mistakes.
For instance: What took you so long to break up with this guy?
You don’t mention how old your children are, but if a future partner doesn’t want to spend any time with your children (and then doesn’t seem to like them when he does), it’s game over.
He could be great guy (and your children, not so much), but you and your kids are a package deal.
Furthermore, any person headed toward marriage and being a stepparent had better become acquainted with conflict, no matter the age of the children.
Entering a family system requires tact, humor, a generous spirit, and the ability to survive an occasional argument.
Few people enjoy conflict. But mature people (like you) understand that conflict is inevitable — and often leads toward growth.
And (paraphrasing my mother, here): Being in a loving relationship is not supposed to be quite so much work.
Dear Amy: My mother-in-law is a very sweet, kind and generous woman who hosted a large family gathering for 20 people, despite COVID restrictions in her community.
While the (catered) food was being warmed in the oven and on the stovetop, she stuck her finger right into the food in the stovetop pan. She licked her finger clean and then repeated this with casseroles in the oven.
I was hopeful that the heat of the stove and the oven would kill any virus or bacteria with which she contaminated the food.
My question is, what could I have kindly said to help her understand that her actions rendered the food she was serving extremely unappetizing? I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings, but she doesn’t seem to understand that her behavior is gross and unacceptable. — Lost my Appetite
Dear Lost: You state (with implied disapproval) that your mother-in-law defied COVID restrictions and hosted a large indoor gathering.
You chose to attend this gathering.
Post-holiday, COVID seems to be spreading mainly through these indoor family gatherings.
My point is that you put yourself at far greater risk gathering for an indoor meal with 20 other people, than by consuming a casserole after your mother-in-law had poked her finger into it.
As you know, this virus is spread through respiration, not through someone else’s dirty fingers.
It’s like that classic scene from the movie, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” The two characters are chased to the edge of a cliff, with no choice but to jump into raging water.
Sundance admits: “I can’t swim!”
Butch says, “Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill ya!”
You should get tested for COVID as soon as possible.
Dear Amy: Responding to the heartbreaking question from “Feeling Lost in Cheyenne,” who had recently been through a miscarriage, thank you for sharing your own experience. I believe it really helps to talk with others who have been through this.
My local hospital held an in-person support group. Attending meetings helped me so much. — Grateful
Dear Grateful: Online support groups are also extremely helpful.