Dear Amy: I have a friend who is going through a really rough patch in her life; she's facing possible divorce.
She's in individual therapy and marriage counseling, but she's experiencing sadness and mental anguish over her situation. She’s worried about the future.
She claims she's not suffering from depression, but I'm wondering.
I'm trying to be supportive and understanding; I listen to her, try not to give advice, and remind her that she has friends and family who love her and will stand by her no matter what.
I try and remind her of the joys in life and encourage her to take a mental break now and then. I also offer to hang out with her, but she almost always declines.
Is there anything else I can do to support her through this dark patch in her life?
– Worried Friend
Dear Worried: You sound like a really good, constant and consistent friend. Your presence in her life – even in the background – will help to give her strength.
You might ask if she wants to talk about her experience with (individual) therapy. Describing aloud some of the coaching she has received might help her to continue to make positive connections and add insight.
You have spent a lot of time listening, but you could also occasionally ask her to help you with something. Working on a project together might help her to get out of her head for a bit.
I highly recommend poet Maggie Smith’s recent book as a gift for your friend: “Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change” (2020, Atria/One Signal Publishers).
Dear Amy: I recently purchased a beautiful vacation cabin with a couple.
I own 50 percent and they own 50 percent. They also have 6-year-old twins.
Before purchasing, we had long conversations about our plans and thoughts about the use of the cabin.
I have been upfront that I wanted to purchase this mostly to USE, but we could rent it out, also.
They said they would be traveling for eight weeks of the summer, and they had no problem that I would be in the cabin during some or most of that time.
I even asked if I should pay more utilities, and they were adamant that this was not necessary.
Now that the sale is final, everything has changed.
Every decision is two (them) against one (me).
They have also “mandated” that our schedule would be rotating month-to-month (I wanted week-to-week), which means there will be at least two months out of the summer season where I wouldn’t be able to use the house at all.
I also have membership in the country club and because it is only open during the summer months, that is a lot of money being wasted.
No matter how much I state my feelings, I am "out-voted.”
I was super-excited about this place, now I can’t even think about it without getting upset.
– Miserable in Paradise
Dear Miserable: You don’t note what possessed you to buy property with these people with so little legal preparation, but you should see a real estate lawyer quickly to define your ownership, draw up a legal co-ownership agreement between you and the others, and educate all of you on your mutual rights and responsibilities. You should also research how to go about selling your share of the property, if it comes to that.
If you co-own this property equally, then you have one vote, and they have one vote. They are counting on your passivity when they out-vote you.
If they have decided to alternate month-to-month, and there are three months of summer season at this location, then why don’t you get two months and they one month?
If their children are tied to a traditional school calendar, then presumably you could take June and August, or July and September. Or you could go month-to-month during non-summer months and take the 12 weeks comprising June, July, and August and negotiate which six weeks (consecutive or not) you – and they – would live in the house.
Dear Amy: Thank you for your thoughtful response to “Afraid to Rock the Boat,” a survivor trying to recover from her childhood trauma in therapy.
I appreciated that you advised her to ask her therapist whether she should dive into her past. For many people, doing a “deep dive” like this might retraumatize her. Forward motion might be the best direction for her.
– Been There
Dear Been There: This is an important “process” question to discuss.
©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.