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ASK ELLIE: A couple compromise


A reader writes to Ellie to ask about advice on how to deal with his aggressive brother-in-law. (123RF)
A reader writes to Ellie to ask about advice on how to deal with his aggressive brother-in-law. (123RF)

Q - As news of the pandemic gained momentum, I realized that I didn't want to be separated from my girlfriend of two years whom I loved.

So, I invited her to move into my apartment. It’s a one-bedroom with nice views. When there alone, it felt pretty spacious.

I’ve since been working from home and still earning the same as before.

But my girlfriend’s retail sales job ended when the store closed completely, so her income stopped.

However, money isn’t what’s bothering me. It’s her lack of neatness and organization.

In a living space surrounded by windows, there’s less room for furniture and cupboards in the main living area.

Keeping clothing on the couch or over chairs just makes for clutter, especially when we each have a cupboard in the bedroom and one to share in the entrance hall.

I use an end of the dining table for the computer, with the printer and other needed items on the wall unit behind me.

My girlfriend just puts her laptop wherever she was last sitting and piles books/notepad/markers on the floor at her bedside.

We also cook very differently, but she makes some great dishes (so I just clean up and shut up).

I know these are unusual stress-laden times. But I’m left wondering if my girlfriend and I are just not suited to each other since we can’t get through normal living adjustments without arguing and shutting down.

Limited Space, Big Fights

A - Moving in together suddenly sounded alarms for you two.

Things had gone smoothly enough while just dating for you to ignore her messiness and her to sidestep your controls.

Yes, controls. You asked her to move in. That put a new label on the glass-walled haven – it’s a shared accommodation, a home for two.

It doesn’t even matter that you’re paying the shot. I’m not talking ownership, this is about sharing a refuge. And even little kids learn that sharing means give-and-take.

You appreciate her cooking, so you accept her culinary style. Apply that to her as a person.

In considering your future together or apart, the operative clue is love. You felt it before you found her books on the bedroom floor and now must decide whether you still feel it.

She needs to consider whether she can still love someone who’s continually monitoring her.

The pandemic will eventually pass. Will you both have learned about your own natures, that future stress is inevitable, and that it takes two to compromise?

If so, you might both be happy together again.

***

Q - My deceased cousin was conceived through an extra-marital affair of my cousin’s mother, my aunt. Her husband never knew.

My aunt confided in my mother, who told me and no one else. I’m the sole living bearer of this information.

Should I share this with my cousin’s children (we’re in contact) and tell them that the man they thought was their grandfather was not?

I was also told the identity of the late biological father/grandfather and could provide that information.

The only reason to disclose would be, if the living descendants have a DNA test and discover different ancestry from their first cousins, who had the known grandfather. But they’ll have no source for the truth.

Should I Disclose?

A - No. I advise against unsought intrusions into others’ lives, unless there’s a direct, necessary request for information.

Or you could disclose if a serious medical situation arises and makes any unknown genetic history obviously needed.

***

Feedback regarding the woman in her 50s who met/married a man from a Caribbean island (May 9):

This woman’s story was frustrating and confusing, without background included for the rest of us, on how she made this decision.

Is the man Canadian or a citizen of the island? Did they meet for a first date here or there?

Do they now live here or there or 50/50?

Are either of them still working? Who supports whom? If she has adult children or elderly parents, is she wealthy enough to travel often?

Ellie: Letter-writers are anonymous, and I don’t reveal their locales. But she obviously had a compelling story to tell.

Her stated facts were a previously emotionally abusive relationship and a three-month long-distance relationship through an online dating app.

She noted that love happened by first getting to know each other. She wrote nothing of who had money or owned a house, etc.

Ellie’s tip of the day: Stress during COVID-19 is common and unavoidable. Compromise through these times and your relationships will improve.


Read Ellie Monday to Saturday. Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca. Follow @ellieadvice.

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Ellie Tesher
Ellie Tesher

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