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Health & Spirit

Man is cast in Tennessee Williams domestic drama

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am a 72-year-old (divorced) man. Four years ago, I met my widowed girlfriend (age, 70). After dating for over a year, she asked me to move in and live with her in her spacious house, where her sister (age, 64) also lives.

"Sister" suffers from severe clinical depression, and is on medication and medical care.

I accepted my girlfriend's invitation after receiving assurances from Sister that she is OK with this plan.

When Sister doesn't get her way, there is hell to pay. We walk on eggshells out of fear that Sister may attempt suicide. Sister has attempted to kill herself six times in the past 30 years. The last time she attempted suicide was after I moved in.

Although trivial, the things that bother me the most are that Sister leaves her things in the common area, and although she eats in her room, she does not clean her dishes promptly, while my girlfriend and I are spotless and organized. Sister also gets upset if we don't comply with her request to open doors and windows when she gets hot.

When she gets upset, she will withdraw and not talk to us for days, which upsets Girlfriend.

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I love Girlfriend, and would like to have our relationship grow, but she feels caught in this loop of continuous upset that occurs almost weekly.

Obviously, I can resign from all attempts to feel at home, act like a visitor and comply with Sister's ways. Is there another solution?

-- Confused

Dear Confused: The most obvious solution is for you to move out. The secondary solution would be for you and "Girlfriend" to renovate the house so that "Sister" has her own private suite with a kitchenette, so that she can live more independently, and you two will be separated by some sturdy drywall.

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