Ask Amy: Friends want to limit contact due to drinking

Dear Amy: A dear friend has a husband who is an alcoholic. During any kind of get together he is loud, belligerent and on occasion becomes incapacitated and has to be carried out.

Before my friend and her husband moved six hours away, our group of about 20 could tolerate him because they would get in the car (she would drive) and go home.

Now they visit frequently and expect to stay with us and for us to host gatherings.

My husband and I have reached the end of our patience and want to limit our contact with him, which means they would stay one night instead of five.

My friend would be crushed to learn how we feel. Our relationship would be over. I would also be crushed to lose her as a friend.

I feel very guilty because I’m always coming up with excuses and lies as to why we can’t stay longer when they visit.

Her husband has ruined many of her past friendships due to his drinking and I don’t want our friendship to be another casualty. Can you think of a way for us to be honest and still retain this friendship?

— Friendship Dilemma

Dear Dilemma: Your friend’s husband has an addiction disorder that, according to you, often has an extreme impact on him, and everyone in his circle.

You are all protecting his addiction and its consequences by pretending that it doesn’t exist.

If your friend wants to visit town frequently, it might be best for her to establish a relationship with a short-term rental where she and her husband can stay comfortably and have some privacy, and spend time with you and other friends without overstaying their welcome.

You could say to her, “I’m worried that staying with us seems to trigger ‘Ray’s’ drinking. I know this is a really tough illness; I have to admit I really don’t know how to respond. We treasure your visits and want to make sure you continue to come. Can you plan to stay with us for one night and then if you want to stay in town longer, I can try to connect you with a nearby rental so you can have some privacy and we can continue to see you and do things together while you’re in town.”

If your attempt at honesty becomes a friendship deal-breaker for her, then she truly needs to connect with a “friends and family” support group (such as Al-anon) to fight the isolation that protecting her husband’s addiction is creating for her.

You should also consider not serving any alcohol during get togethers in your home while they are with you.

Dear Amy: My daughter is a stepmom to two girls — now in their teens.

They came to live with her and her husband over a year ago, because they did not have a good situation at their mother’s home.

At first, my daughter seemed to give them great structure and life skills. Now, they seem lost.

The entire house is a mess, and I spend most of my visiting time cleaning, which means I don’t visit very often.

On my last visit, the older girl did not shower for six days. I’m worried that these girls are not being mentored in basic life skills or adult skills needed to survive.

On the weekends, they stay up until two or three in the morning and sleep in until two or three in the afternoon. I guess the adults in the house just want them out of the way. When I try to talk to them, I get shut down and told they are dealing with it.

The girls want to visit me next summer. Frankly, I will not put up with this nonsense and have held off saying yes. How can I help?

— Frustrated Grandma

Dear Frustrated: These teens behave as they do because they are being neglected. And now, because of their behavior, you are considering neglecting them, too.

Your ability to help in a concrete way may be limited — but it would be good for them to see an adult at least try.

Dear Amy: “Sweater Weather” does not want to crank up the heat when her parents visit in the winter. She prefers it cool, but also reports having sinus issues when the heat is higher.

She should absolutely have her furnace cleaned. When you crank it up, dust and particles blow in and can create allergy and sinus problems.

— Been There

Dear Been There: Great advice. Thank you.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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