Lives With His Mom

Q: Is it normal for an adult son (35) to live at home with his divorced mother? My fiancé of eight months works but does not pay rent or utilities, and his mom pays his cell phone and car insurance. He helps around the house when he is there. Now he wants me to move in with them so we can save money. -- Sandy, 30

Dr. Susan: When the economy is this rotten, different ways of behaving can become normal. You don't say whether your boyfriend is taking undue advantage of his mother. If her finances are solid, then it's generous of her to allow him free rent, phone, and insurance. (If her own financial situation is less than easy, then shame on him.) I would hope he pays his way by doing every possible thing he can do around the house to make his mother's life easier. Otherwise I'd call him a slacker and a user.

Before moving in with them, you and he must talk. First, do you like her and does she like you? Would you find the living arrangements amenable to your personality or might you feel stressed by the lack of privacy and so on? In some cultures, arrangements like this might not be unusual, except for the tiny fact that you're not married yet. That could add some strain. What I'd want before agreeing to move in would be some definite plans for the future. When are you getting married? When will he (and you) be self-supporting? How long would you stay living with his mom? Does he recognize that you need to feel you are first in his heart in some important ways? That is, he has to keep your secrets from his mom, and they can't gang up on you. If safeguards are put firmly in place, it's possible that the financial benefits to the two of you would make the temporary awkwardness a worthy tradeoff. Remember: the final decision needs to be yours and his, not his mom's.

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