Dear Amy: I've been with "Brad" for six years (we're in our 50s, both divorced). Six months before he moved into my house, he lost his job. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do next. Somewhat against my better judgment, I let him move in, with the understanding that he would get back to work quickly. In the four years he's lived here, he has had three jobs. None lasted long. (I work from home.)
Brad has begun to drink. A lot. Many days, he drinks up to15 beers.
His parents send him money, which he uses to pay child support and buy some groceries. He does keep the place spotless and does all the yardwork.
He typically is very loving, but when he drinks, he gets angry, snarky, and critical of me and everyone else in his life. He is diagnosed with depression and takes his meds, but he won't discuss the possibility of needing different meds or dosages with his doctor.
Over the years, we have had many talks. I say I need him to quit drinking and get a job and be helpful. He always promises to try, and I give him another chance. In February, we agreed that April 1 was a deadline, and if he didn't meet it, he would leave. Then everything shut down (covid-19). He is drinking more. I hate it. I'm going crazy.
This is an educated, professional man. He has always worked hard and done well. I do love him, but at this point, I just want him to leave. Where will he go? How will he live? I'm afraid of what might happen to him, so I remain stuck.
— Worn Down
Worn Down: At one point you two agreed that April 1 was “Brad’s” move-out deadline. You don’t seem to have worried about where he would live at that point, which tells me that you basically expected him to get with your program. This says a lot about the power of cognitive dissonance: He has not demonstrated the ability to change, and yet you keep expecting it.
Stop trying to bargain with Brad. It’s not working.
Brad has been diagnosed with depression, and although he takes his meds, he is also dosing up with one of the world’s most powerful depressants: alcohol. That’s the power of an addiction disorder: He drinks even though it makes him feel worse.
The pressure to find a professional job might be too much for him, and he might be a fulfilled and fulfilling “house husband” with part-time work, if he was able to commit to sobriety.
All the same, Brad’s problems belong to him. When you get the “all clear,” you should simply tell him that you love him, but that he has to go. You don’t need to restate all of your expectations. Where he lands will be his problem, and he will figure it out. (This is why it’s called “tough love.”)
You say, “Honey, I love you, but it’s time for you to leave. I hope you will choose to get help. I’m in your corner all the way, but I can’t help you.” I hope you will choose to stay in his life, as a faithful and concerned friend.
Dear Amy: "Scared Teen" wrote to you regarding their parents, who seemed to be arguing a lot. I'd like to suggest that the teen write a letter to them.
In a letter, the writer can clearly state their feelings, concerns and wishes — and the parents don't have to spontaneously respond.
When I was in my early 20s and not living at home, I witnessed my parents having a horrible verbal argument that really upset me. I left and wrote my parents a letter explaining how upset I was, especially because of how they had always taught me to show respect and understanding to others and had in fact lived that themselves, but now weren't doing it with each other.
I told them that I didn't want to visit them together if this was going to be their behavior.
They never argued in front of me again.
More than 30 years later, (I had long forgotten the letter), my mom told me how profoundly my letter had affected my dad. He was so proud of me for "speaking up," and pointing out how their behavior wasn't in keeping with their values.
— Proud of Parents Who Listened
Proud of Parents Who Listened: This is a wonderful tribute — to you and your folks.
2020 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency