Ask Amy: Cohabitation before marriage causes rift

January 19

DEAR AMY: I am a 24-year-old woman and have been with my wonderful partner for the past seven years. He is also 24. We have lived together for several years. We are in a committed, loving relationship and see marriage in the future, but not as soon as my father would like.

I do not live in the same state as my parents but visit as often as possible. The last few trips, my very Catholic father has been pushing marriage or request we break up, which I think is ridiculous.

I have told him many times to not push it, because we are young and I feel as though we need to grow mentally and financially before marrying. We are both trying to find grounding in our fields and only graduated from college a year ago.

My father is becoming overly aggressive with his request, and I am playing with the idea of telling him to stop minding my relationship or I will cut ties with him and not visit.

I am very close to both of my parents and do not want to go this route, but I fear my request will fall on deaf ears and he will continue to badger my partner and me. How do I calm my pushy father down? -- Tired

DEAR TIRED: Before resorting to the nuclear option (”Stop bugging me about this, or I’ll cut you off completely”), you should give him fair warning about how much this bothers you by simply and calmly asking him, again, to stop. The next time this starts, put your hand on his arm and say, “Dad, please. You’re not helping. I don’t want to discuss this with you. Please stop.” Follow up with a letter stating that you understand his position and that he doesn’t need to restate it.

If his need for you to get married is a result of his religious convictions, then that likely supersedes your views. Prepare yourself for this to continue, and if it does, then staying away from home would seem like a natural consequence of his behavior and the discomfort it causes you.

DEAR AMY: A relative visits our home occasionally wearing a T-shirt announcing “Christ Died for Your Sins.”

He knows that I’m a nonbeliever and has obviously put the shirt on specifically for the visit, since our home is his destination.

I’m not offended by the shirt, but I am perplexed and, frankly, irritated.

The message on the shirt is like an elephant in the room and seems like a passive-aggressive form of proselytizing.

Should I say something in a nonconfrontational way or just continue to try to ignore the shirt? -- Not Likely To Convert

DEAR NOT LIKELY: You could engage in your own form of passive proselytizing by wearing your own “Smile, There Is No Hell” or “God Made Me an Atheist” T-shirt, but if you’re not offended by this shirt and are curious about your relative’s motivation, then you should ask him about it: “I’m wondering about your shirt. You’ve worn it here before. Do you want to talk about it?”

You may not be interested in changing your views, but you do seem open to having a conversation. As long as this is handled peacefully and respectfully, you both might benefit.

If the idea of discussing religion gives you hives, then definitely do your best to ignore this shirt and simply step around the elephant in the room.

DEAR AMY: “Sad Dad” wrote to you about his adult daughter who was doing very well in life but was only in touch with her parents to prompt them to give her money. Maybe he should set up a trust for his daughter so that she doesn’t get her inheritance till she is at least 60 years old.

That way, when she is ready to retire, she will have a nice retirement. Someone I know did that, and the children were very happy to receive it. -- Reader

DEAR READER: I like this idea, but it does not necessarily resolve the personal issue between the daughter and her parents, which is one of neglect coupled with entitlement.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2014 by the Chicago Tribune

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