Dear Abby: Man wonders if larger house could signal bigger problem

Advice column

Dear Abby: My fiancee, “Diane,” and her two sons live in a nice home. I also have a nice home, newly constructed. It’s located 1,200 miles away, near my parents, my son and my job. Diane currently has no job nor family within 500 miles of her town. Her boys’ father (whom she shares custody with) lives within 50 miles of me. My job and the custody arrangement for my son preclude me from living where Diane does.

Together, she and I would have three sons. The spacious five-bedroom house I own is more than adequate. Diane has made clear that if I sell my home and buy my neighbor’s, which is a larger seven-bedroom manor, she will be on the next flight. If not, she won’t leave. We could buy the manor with cash if I sell my home and she sold hers and put her savings into the purchase, but she doesn’t want to use her savings.

Diane is my everything, but it feels like I may just be chasing a dream. I worry that if I’m not enough, will I be enough when I own a manor?

– It’s Complicated

Dear It’s Complicated: I’m proud of you. You are seeing things clearly, which is unusual when emotions are involved. It appears your dream girl, the fair Diane, is attempting to blackmail you. If she can’t be the “lady of the manor,” she’s not interested in uprooting her life. If you give in to her now, do not do it without an ironclad prenuptial agreement. Please stay strong, because if you don’t, you may regret it for a long time.

Dear Abby: My sisters and I are beside ourselves trying to deal with our 90-year-old mother. She doesn’t live in the same state as any relatives. She needs help paying bills, managing money, personal hygiene, taking medication and understanding things she reads. She refuses to give anyone power of attorney over her finances or to create a health care directive. She claims she’s not going to die.

At the very least, she likely has some form of dementia. We want nothing more than to protect her interests, but our hands are tied. We have all spoken to her about the situation, but she insists that no one is going to tell her what to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

– Just Trying to Help Her

Dear Just Trying: Believe me, you have my sympathy. Instead of telling your mother what to do, perhaps it’s time to reframe the conversation.

Ask her what she would like done in the event of an emergency. Does she want “extraordinary measures” taken, such as CPR, and exactly what that means — a defibrillator, dialysis, treatment in an intensive care unit. Explain what all of them entail in detail. You should also ask, in a separate conversation, if she wants “the state” to take a chunk of her assets and decide FOR her to whom they should be distributed, or whether she would prefer to make her wishes clear while she’s still able. Point out that NO ONE lives forever.

If your mother is really as demented as you fear she is, you may need the help of a social worker to ensure that she’s getting proper care. Failure to do that could be considered elder abuse.

To My Readers: The eight days of Hanukkah begin at sundown. (A bit early this year!) Happy Hanukkah, everyone! A joyous Festival of Lights to all of us.

Love, Abby

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.