Life Advice



Ask Amy: Worn-out partner faces a tough choice

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I've been with "Brad" for six years (we're in our 50s, both divorced). Six months before he moved into my house, he lost his job. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do next. Somewhat against my better judgment, I let him move in, with the understanding that he would get back to work quickly. In the four years he's lived here, he has had three jobs. None lasted long. (I work from home.)

Brad has begun to drink. A lot. Many days, he drinks up to15 beers.

His parents send him money, which he uses to pay child support and buy some groceries. He does keep the place spotless and does all the yardwork.

He typically is very loving, but when he drinks, he gets angry, snarky, and critical of me and everyone else in his life. He is diagnosed with depression and takes his meds, but he won't discuss the possibility of needing different meds or dosages with his doctor.

Over the years, we have had many talks. I say I need him to quit drinking and get a job and be helpful. He always promises to try, and I give him another chance. In February, we agreed that April 1 was a deadline, and if he didn't meet it, he would leave. Then everything shut down (COVID-19). He is drinking more. I hate it. I'm going crazy.

This is an educated, professional man. He has always worked hard and done well. I do love him, but at this point, I just want him to leave. Where will he go? How will he live? I'm afraid of what might happen to him, so I remain stuck.


-- Worn Down

Dear Worn Down: At one point you two agreed that April 1 was "Brad's" move-out deadline. You don't seem to have worried about where he would live at that point, which tells me that you basically expected him to get with your program. This says a lot about the power of cognitive dissonance: He has not demonstrated the ability to change. and yet you keep expecting it.

Stop trying to bargain with Brad. It's not working.

Brad has been diagnosed with depression, and although he takes his meds, he is also dosing up with one of the world's most powerful depressants: alcohol. That's the power of an addiction disorder: He drinks even though it makes him feel worse.


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