Dear Amy: I have wonderful in-laws. They don’t meddle or criticize and are generally cool people to be around.
After the birth of our first child in March, they’ve come from out of state to stay with us a few times. However, I have an issue that I really have no idea how to approach.
My father-in-law is getting on in years, and it seems he does not have the ability to hit the toilet reliably when he urinates.
Amy, I understand that aging comes with all its indignities, but is it too much to expect him to sit down to pee?
Ideally, he would realize the problem and have the decency not to pee onto our bathroom floor. But of course that isn’t the case.
Although I’m a woman, I also guess that there may be a whole host of underlying psychology stuff that happens when a man is no longer able to stand up to pee.
The bottom line is: I don’t have the time or energy to be cleaning up someone else’s urine! Doing it for one human is quite enough.
I’ve thought about passing this off to my husband to handle, but as a matter of personal growth I’m trying to stop avoiding conflict as I’ve done in the past.
— Pissed Mom
Dear Pissed: You seem to think that this is the right time for you to stand up and confront someone who is doing something you don’t like.
Nope. This is the perfect moment to avoid conflict.
Bringing this up to your “wonderful” father-in-law could prove deeply embarrassing to him. Why — oh why — would you choose to do this?
You have already made the connection that caring for an infant and an older person have some commonalities. In both cases, cleaning up after someone who doesn’t have total control over bodily functions can actually deepen your understanding of the human condition. Yes, it is NO FUN to clean up urine. But yes, it can be done with love — or at least compassion.
Here are your choices: You could ask your husband to speak to his father about his toileting habits: (“Dad, we’ve noticed that you are missing the toilet. Is the lighting in our bathroom bad for you?”).
You could also ask your husband to compassionately clean up after his father so that you don’t have to do it.
Of course, your husband should be on diaper patrol with the baby, along with you, but perhaps during those times your in-laws are with you, you could strike up a deal: “I’ve got the baby; you take gramps.”
Dear Amy: I am a 45-year-old divorced woman who is well established in her personal and professional life.
I met a wonderful gentleman (age 53), who is divorced and a father of a 15-year-old son with shared custody with the ex.
We live about an hour away from each other. We see each other once a week. Every other weekend we stay at each other’s place. Everything has been great.
We get along well and share a lot of similarities. All of my friends, who have met him, like him.
My concern is that it has been over nine months since we started dating. We have been exclusive for a long time and he has yet to tell anyone about me.
I asked him if it’s because he is not sure where this relationship is headed, or if he is embarrassed to be seen with me, and suggested we take a break for a month to see what he expects from me and this relationship. He said he didn’t know why he hadn’t told anyone.
It really makes me sad, and I don’t know what else I should have done.
— Secret and Sad
Dear Secret: It sounds as if you don’t have an ex-spouse and teenage child.
The presence of either might inspire a person to crave being in a relationship bubble. Your guy might simply be enjoying the privacy and independence of keeping this relationship private. Before walking away, you should see if he can communicate more cogently regarding his own reasoning.
Dear Amy: “Judged and Sad” was struggling with infertility. Questions about when she was going to have a baby were very painful to her.
Is there ever a right way to ask someone of childbearing years if they plan to have children?
Dear Wondering: It depends on the relationship, and the surrounding culture.
I was never asked, and have never asked this question — even of family members.