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Ask Amy: My adult daughter lives with us but is not respectful

Dear Amy: My husband and I bought a house seven years ago. It has a finished basement. In the basement there is a bathroom, a bedroom and a study.

Our daughter and son-in-law live with us in the study and bedroom on the ground floor (they use the bathroom). They work.

Our daughter has a college degree and has been married to our son-in-law for 12 years. They have no children.

Our daughter is considered the smartest in the family, but she is not always respectful or helpful towards us parents.

In recent years their behavior has worsened.

She says I have no limits, but in reality I'm just trying to be patient with her until she matures (she's 32).

I always correct her (of course) when she is wrong, which she resents. Then she insults me and calls me names.

It seems like I can't win!

How do I make it clear that we have a right to be treated with respect in our own home?

I am very frustrated with her and have tried to sell our house due to this tension. I am thinking of buying another one and they can either buy ours (if they can afford it) or find somewhere else to live.

– Upstairs Mom in Tennessee

Dear mom from above: I assume that your daughter and son-in-law share (or use) the kitchen, dining room and possibly the laundry room in the upstairs part of your house.

If that's the case, then no – you don't have physical boundaries. It's hard to have boundaries when you share a home.

If you correct your 32-year-old daughter (“naturally”) when she is “wrong” and wait for this adult daughter to “mature,” then you too seem to have few—or no—personal boundaries.

Their rude and harsh responses to you are inappropriate, but you seem like someone who doesn't get the hint. The escalation could be their attempt to get you to back off.

It's your house. If you don't like the way your roommates are treating you, it's time for them to go. Evicting this couple (if they don't want to leave) could be difficult, and so if you're planning on selling the house anyway, the current hot market could be a good time to do it.

I would advise you not to sell your house to them. It might be best for your relationship if these basement scroungers start over and stand on their own two feet.

• • •

Dear Amy: I am a 29-year-old man. My wife and I have been together for six years. We got married three years ago and had a wonderful wedding with all our family and friends.

Our wedding is pretty much the last truly happy memory I have of our relationship.

My wife and I don't get along and I can't really figure out why. We both like our jobs and have a nice apartment. We share expenses and housework.

I feel like she's always unhappy. I just can't seem to please her. Sometimes I dread coming home from work because I'm never sure what to expect. I've started dreaming about leaving the marriage and it makes me feel absolutely awful.

I need guidance. I need a new perspective on what to do.

– Concerned and amazed

Dear Concerned People: You don't mention that you've discussed having children, but my first suggestion is that you shouldn't have children until you've come to a resolution about your relationship.

Both of you should seek professional advice immediately.

You should address this by sitting down with your wife and laying everything out openly. Use “I” statements and limit yourself to describing your own feelings: “At home, I walk on eggshells. I feel sad and lonely. I'm worried about our future.”

Please take a deep breath, stay calm, and give your wife enough space to respond to you. You are looking for insight, not another argument.

• • •

Dear Amy: The question from the “frustrated neighbor” hit the nail on the head. This very stingy person complained about the unkempt state of his neighbor’s house and garden.

Well, I used to be the neighbor with the unkempt property. I was battling cancer treatment while also being a mother of three children.

My neighbor complained – via note – but never offered to help.

– Survivors

Dear survivors, we never know what is going on in someone else’s life unless we ask.

Anna Harden

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