Q: A friend is staying in an abusive relationship because he believes he has far more parenting influence if he's in the house, and because he fears how she would treat the kids if she had unsupervised visitation. I don't assume she would get custody if they went to court, but he certainly isn't interested in risking it. How can I support my friend?
A: By urging him to talk, discreetly and soon, to both an attorney and a family therapist. There might be ways for him to document the situation at home that will support him in court someday, getting his kids out of this abusive home. I also recommend these steps so he can protect himself. Anyone abusive, in fact anyone who creates a volatile situation at home, has to be considered capable of turning accusations on the innocent. Urge him to document, document, document.
Partner's gum-chewing habit may require an ultimatum
Q: I have been with a wonderful, kind, 50-year-old professional man for two-plus years. He moved in with my daughters and me a few months ago, and I now realize he has an obsessive gum-chewing habit. He chews every waking moment, unless he's eating or being intimate.
Now seeing him chew even with his mouth closed is a huge turnoff. I've brought it up at least four times now. Help! I'm nearly completely repulsed at this point.
A: If you're to the point where it's you or the gum (as you seem to be), then just say so. Yes, it's an ultimatum, but we're talking gum here; it's only fair that he know the cost.