Ask Amy: The divorced brother has become a couch potato.

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Dear Mom: My brother is newly divorced.

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After he and his wife separated, I let him live with me so he could save money, sort things out, and get some emotional support.

He is a good man and pays half the bill. He pays them late – but he pays them.

He is also sloppy and I am constantly cleaning up behind him.

He’s aware of my displeasure with cleanliness as an adult, but doesn’t seem to care.

He’s been living with me for almost five years now – and I need my space. We are both middle aged and divorced. I’m an empty nester, and want to be alone.

I resent everything he does, but I’m afraid to feel that way.

Mom, there are times when I don’t want to come home because I know I’m going to face a mess. I long for space and time alone.

Am I being selfish and uncaring just to resent his presence?

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– Stymied sister

dear sister: Five years later, your brother is no longer “newly divorced.” (His divorce lasted longer than my first marriage.)

He is a middle-aged man who lives with a sister who treats him exactly as he wants him to be as a child. It seems like such a nice and comfortable situation for him that he definitely doesn’t want to leave!

It’s a wonder you still think of your brother as a “good guy”, because – according to you – he’s completely uninterested in your suffering. Instead, he seems to be sketching your superior caregiving abilities and your guilt about it.

Why do you feel guilty? This may be because you equate love with care.

Maybe it’s time to prove that you love him enough to let him go.

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I suggest that in order to save your relationship with your brother, now is the time to definitely, calmly and kindly show him the door. Consider this a lighthearted announcement that it’s time for him to start his next chapter, and he’s ready.

Tell him, “It’s time to find your own place. I want to live on my own and so do you.” Don’t get personal. Don’t change his past behavior or allow him to bargain his way into your stay.

You can set a timeline for him to move out and help him find a place he can afford (perhaps sharing a house with others).

Be aware that since he is paying to live in your home, he may be considered a tenant. If he refuses to leave, you may have to start eviction proceedings. Check with your state and local regulations regarding evictions, if applicable. I hope not.

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Dear Mom: I hope we are finally getting out of the pandemic in a real way. After living in an altered reality for quite some time, I found myself struggling with how to get back out of there. I feel like my mood is somehow suppressed, and can’t figure out how to get going again.

Any suggestions?

– tired

Dear Tired: I’ll tell you what I’ve done: I’ve gone out.

Call it vitamin D therapy, exercise therapy, or running(!) – reconnecting with nature has been a game changer for me.

Long walks, twice a day (or long outdoor sitting, if walking is too difficult). Bird watching. Caring for garden beds or flower pots.

These are all things most people can do, and they’re guaranteed to boost mood.

Dear Mom: I was horrified by your response to “Mystified,” the husband who couldn’t understand why his wife had lost so much weight and became “more independent.”

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Instead of praising her weight loss and her independence, you suggested she might be having an affair!

– Frightened

Dear Scared: Many readers did not like my answer to this question. To paraphrase: “Mystery” reported that his wife had recently lost a lot of weight, that the intimacy in their marriage had changed, that she had become more independent, and that he believed that His wife is “going through the motions” in their marriage.

I suggested that one possible reason for these changes (there are other possibilities) might be “external manipulation” and that he should talk about his relationship.

If the gender was reversed and the husband lost a lot of weight, became more independent, stopped having sex, and “went through the motions,” I don’t believe we would be celebrating his freedom. Will, but confirming that the marriage may be in trouble.

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