Dear Amy:

I have been in a live-in relationship for the last 22 years with the father of my son, who is 21.

My partner has lots of problems, struggles with depression and alcohol, and he has been unemployed for the last 16 years. In the past I believed he would stop drinking or that he would find a job. But now I am 50 years old and I don't believe him anymore.

For the last seven years we have kept separate bedrooms. Five years ago, I bought a house with a very nice garden, and that keeps me happy.

My mother, brother and my son tell me I should sell the house and leave him. But I love my garden and do not want to give it up.

I have always had a job, sometimes two jobs, to pay the bills and take care of my family. Now I have a job I love. The only trouble is with this man. I just want him to leave, and I've been telling him that he needs to go. But he says that it is my problem and that I am the one who destroyed his health, and that he drinks because of me.

Now I just want him to leave, and he tells me he has no place to go and nothing to lose.

I am afraid he will lie on the sofa for another 20 years.

Do I have any future?

House Happy

I'm going to assume that you have attempted to help your guy and that your compassion has gotten you nowhere. Now you need to issue an ultimatum, followed by a key to his new storage locker.

According to Donna Kline, author of "The Laws of Love: A Practical Guide for Living Together" (due to be published in July by Blue House Press), your guy, not you, is the one who should be moving.

Your first step must be to thoroughly review your records concerning the ownership of your home. Assuming that you alone own your property, you should treat your couch potato as a tenant who needs to be evicted. Your local justice of the peace or clerk's office can educate you on how to initiate an eviction and help you fill out the paperwork.

Kline says that you should tell your guy that he needs to be gone by a specific date. (It would be a good idea to put this in writing in the form of a registered letter.) On the date specified, if he hasn't made any moves to leave the home, you should consider hiring a mover who could transport his goods to a nearby storage unit. You would pay the first month's storage fee and give him the key.

I know that all of this effort might make it seem easier to just tolerate someone you seem to find intolerable, but look at it this way -- even if you sold the home and moved out, he'd still have to move, unless he could purchase it from you, which doesn't sound likely.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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