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Sat, Sept. 21

Dear Annie: She struggles to set boundaries with his mother

Dear Annie: I have been in a relationship with my fiance for seven years.

When we first started dating and I met his mother, she cried and said, “Take care of him.” Mind you, he’s 52 years old. I didn’t think anything of it.

Well, six years later, I can’t count all the incidents of drama and manipulation that she’s created.

She’s incredibly overbearing. She comes over for dinner at our house every Saturday night, and my boyfriend goes to her house throughout the week. She has many children and grandchildren in the area but calls him for everything. When my boyfriend and I have gone on weekend getaways to the coast, she’s wanted to be included. The few times he told her no, she cried and said, “You know I love going!” I understand needing someone, but shouldn’t there be boundaries?

I tried to be open in the first few years of the relationship -- calling her, reaching out -- but it only made things tenser. Things that I could overlook at first I find difficult, at best, to deal with now. I’m tired.

I have tried to talk to my companion. Have you noticed I have called him “fiance,” “boyfriend” and “companion”? That’s because I have no idea what to call him. When I ask what we’re doing, he gets angry and stubborn. It’s a pattern. Really, I know this man and I are not going to marry. I am not his wife; this is not my mother-in-law. But I want my time with him.

I just want to make him understand that I need my space and that I’m not happy with her dynamics involving our relationship -- though of course I want him to have his time with his mom. How do I explain this in a better way than I am doing now? I have been in counseling and thought I received excellent advice, but I haven’t made any progress in the situation. - Am I Doing It Right?

Dear AMIDIR: This isn’t a matter of your needing to explain things differently; it’s a matter of his needing to listen. You’ve already tried communicating clearly, calmly and directly with him about your feelings, multiple times. You’ve seen a therapist about the issue. You’ve adjusted your expectations and made compromises. Meanwhile, all he’s made are excuses.

Ask him to go to couples counseling to work through this (admittedly thorny) issue. If he values your relationship, he’ll do whatever he can to make it work. Otherwise, I’d recommend taking some time and space for yourself - because if you’re the only one fighting for the relationship, what are you really fighting for?

Dear Annie: “Still Daddy’s Little Girl” implied that the lack of a high school diploma makes her newly laid-off father less employable. You mentioned several ways she could help her father get another job, but you did not mention helping him get his GED diploma. It’s never too late to get a GED diploma, and doing so can be a huge boost to one’s self-esteem and employability. - Karen H.

Dear Karen H.: Great point. It’s never too late to get your GED diploma. Visit for more information.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book - featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette - is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to

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