Dear Abby: Adult stepson’s presence creates tension in home

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married five months. Her 40-year-old son lives in our basement. He has a job, but I have no idea if he pays rent. If he doesn't, it really doesn't bother me.


What does bother me is that at his age, he should be out on his own by now. He's trying to pay off school loans, which I understand. However, he is the one who incurred these bills. All he had to do was finish his dissertation and he would have had his doctorate. Instead, he quit school and doesn't plan on going back.


My wife doesn't think she's an enabler, but I disagree. It's getting very hard for me to put up with this situation. — UPSET IN COLORADO


DEAR UPSET: Much depends upon the reason your wife's son quit school instead of getting that doctorate. I wish you had mentioned whether he has been living in his mother's house since childhood, or if this is something relatively recent. He may have emotional or mental health issues that need addressing.


Because this is creating friction in your marriage, it may be something you and your wife should talk through with the help of a licensed marriage and family therapist.


DEAR ABBY: I am 30 years old and single. I met this guy while I was working downtown three or four months ago. He is almost twice my age. At first I didn't think of him as more than just a customer, but he's very attractive for his age.


One day last month he told me he had lost his phone during my shift, so I asked him to give me his number so I could call him in case somebody found his phone, which I did. Later that night he called me asking, "Who is this?" so I told him who I was. We have been talking ever since and I have been spending every weekend at his house.


I'm starting to think I can see a future with this guy because I feel butterflies in my stomach. I like how things are between us. I care about him and maybe want more one day. What should I do? — LIKING AN OLDER MAN


DEAR LIKING: What you should do is continue exploring a relationship and find out if he feels the same way you do. But the two of you should take things slowly and discuss the age difference before making any commitments. Although his age isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, it is significant.


DEAR ABBY: Am I hoping for too much with my husband of 40-plus years? In the evening, we (or I) watch TV, and he's very agreeable to "watch" anything — mostly because he hardly watches at all. He's playing games on his iPad and glancing at the TV. He'll ask questions occasionally about the characters or the plotlines, but it's obvious he's not following. For some reason, I find it disappointing that he's not really watching, even if it's something he's shown an interest in or selected. Should I just be grateful he's in the same room with me and alive? — FEELING SOLO IN CALIFORNIA


DEAR FEELING SOLO: Focusing on gratitude that you are together doing things you both enjoy is healthy. If you don't care for the program he isn't watching, feel free to change the channel to something you prefer. However, the two of you should make a point of doing something together in which you are both fully engaged because if you do, it will bring you even closer to each other.


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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.