DEAR ABBY: I am extremely upset. My son got married a year ago. We were very happy and have welcomed his wife into our family.
He met us for lunch yesterday and announced that he and his wife have a polyamorous relationship. They will stay married, but both of them will date and have long-term relationships with other people.
My husband and I are in shock. We have been married for more than 30 years and have always been faithful to each other. We thought we had set a good example.
They are asking to be able to bring other boyfriends and girlfriends to our family events. I’m heartsick at the thought of watching them be affectionate with other partners. My granddaughter was a flower girl at their wedding. How do we explain this to her?
I love my son, but does a relationship with him mean I have to abandon the values I have always felt were important to uphold? Right now he isn’t speaking to me because he thinks I was not supportive enough when he told me. I feel like I’m being forced to accept this new lifestyle or not see my son. How should I handle this? — DUMBFOUNDED IN DALLAS
DEAR DUMBFOUNDED: Unless you are raising your granddaughter, you don’t have to explain anything. That will be her parents’ responsibility if they decide to expose her to your son and daughter-in-law’s lifestyle.
As to your being forced to entertain his and his wife’s lovers, if it makes you uncomfortable — which appears to be the case — you are under no obligation to do so. Handle this by standing your ground and refusing to be emotionally blackmailed.
Your son is an adult and entitled to live his life any way he wishes. However, this does not mean that you must endorse it. Tell him you would love to see just him and his wife when they are spending time together.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband, “Ken,” for 34 years. At home, he doesn’t pay much attention to me. Although he’s generally helpful around the house, he puts his needs first. Because we run a small business together, we are together most of the time.
When we go over to friends’ for dinner or to a party, Ken complains that I don’t talk with him enough or notice if he’s alone and not engaged in conversation. He feels I should be more aware of him and stay by his side. I am more outgoing than he is. I make conversation easily and find people to be involved with.
Is he right? Should his needs be more on my radar? Shouldn’t I have the freedom to enjoy those around me, assuming that Ken can take care of himself? I know he’s less at ease in social situations, but I need interaction with others. — WONDERING WHAT’S RIGHT IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR WONDERING: Knowing Ken isn’t as socially adept as you, the kind thing would be to keep an eye on him at these dinners/parties to make sure he isn’t isolated. If he is standing by himself, ask him to join in the conversations you are having. Not every couple is equally outgoing, and it may be a bit of a balancing act, but supportive spouses make an effort to compensate for the other’s deficits if asked to, as your husband has.
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