Ask Amy

Friday, December 18, 2009 at 1:20am

DEAR AMY: Almost a year ago, my boyfriend and I broke up. We adored each other and brought tremendous joy to each other's lives, but we also had serious trust and boundary issues and a broken, dysfunctional, unhappy relationship.

After the breakup, I couldn't help myself, so I kept contacting him. Eventually I stopped. In September I wrote him a letter explaining my feelings. I took the opportunity to call him out on some of his faults.

I tried my hardest to use non-accusatory, constructive, empathetic, accountable language, in hopes that he would hear and acknowledge my feelings.

His response was a text message telling me that my opinion means nothing, and to never contact him again.

The last time I contacted him was in a text telling him that he was an emotionally abusive partner, and to never again cause or tolerate such suffering.

Now it is the holiday season, and I want to express my good will in spite of all the pain we caused each other.

The motive for sending a card is to extend an offering of peace.

The motive for not sending a card is the desire to respect his request for no contact.

So many of our problems stemmed from a lack of respect for each other's boundaries, and I do not want to perpetuate it. Most important to me is that I act with grace and integrity here. I appreciate any thoughts you have on the matter.

— Thoughtful Ex

DEAR EX: If you send your ex a holiday card, you'll spend the bulk of January waiting for a response and then mind-texting him when you don't receive it.

Stop. Stop examining your feelings and composing perfectly non-accusatory holiday greetings in your head.

Stop trying to revive — and control — a dialogue between the two of you.

The most graceful way to behave is to come to terms with your shortcomings (and his), forgive yourself for any behavior you regret (forgive him too) and then move on, vowing to be better and do better next time.

That's a holiday gift that really keeps on giving.


DEAR AMY: I am a 21-year-old who works and goes to school full time.

My fiance is 19 years old and also works.

We've been together for four years and have a 6-month-old baby.

Last year we moved from my parents' house to our own place. Although it's been a good experience living on our own, we've gotten ourselves into credit card debt.

I feel that right now we should be making more than just minimum payments.

Our lease is up in one month, and I brought up the idea of moving back into my parents' home so we can work on becoming debt-free again and focusing on my education.

My parents have two spare bedrooms and would not have a problem with this, but my fiance has second thoughts because the house is very cluttered and disorganized, due to the fact that they are self-employed and don't have any free time.

I am desperate to pay my bills and save money. What should we do?

— Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: Getting out of debt should be your priority. But being debt-free won't mean much if you fall back into debt again (unfortunately, many people yo-yo in and out of debt). Make sure this won't happen to you.

You and your fiance should move back to your parents' home with a timeline for leaving. You should also receive debt counseling.

With the money you're saving on rent, you might be able to afford getting some outside help to keep your folks' place organized and clean.

Keeping an orderly home is parallel to keeping your financial house in order. Both pursuits require discipline, regular attention and elbow grease.


DEAR AMY: I have read your "Santa Hates Me" on Twitter. These are funny and sad at the same time.

A few years ago my dad gave me a can of tire cleaner for my truck.

Another year he gave me a broken nutcracker, and I had to listen to how he gave my sister a digital camera.

I got the message.

— Michelle

DEAR MICHELLE: I hope you can look past the sadness and see the humor.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles