DEAR AMY: I'm in a long-term relationship with a man who lives on a farm. He's wonderful, but he has some rough edges, most of which I'm OK with. The one thing I can't accept (and he seems to think it is just silly quibbling) is his dirty hands and fingernails.
I understand that a guy who works on a farm is bound to get his hands dirty. My point is that before he eats or goes out in public, he should wash his hands, including getting the grime, grease and God-knows-what out from underneath his nails.
I think it's gross when we go out to eat, and I definitely don't want him touching me intimately with those dirty, scraggly nails. Whenever I bring it up, he says that's what happens when you live and work on a farm. He thinks I'm being ridiculous. He says I don't understand what it is like to be a farmer.
I admit, breaking up with a perfectly decent, funny, intelligent man over his fingernails seems silly, but it truly grosses me out.
Your thoughts? -- Grossed Out
DEAR GROSSED OUT: I grew up on a farm, and aside from a brief snit over not being named my county's Dairy Princess as a teenager, I have proudly associated with farmers for my entire life.
There is no question that farming is a tough and dirty business that leaves residual calluses and tough-to-clean hands and nails.
However, the only farmers I can imagine who would go to dinner grimy are those people who would probably be dirty no matter what they did for a living.
Nails, however, are tricky (your guy should keep them short). You should try to be more tolerant about this.
The real issue here is his refusal to even try to do something differently (is he familiar with Lava soap?). The obvious compromise is for you to not inspect his nails quite so closely and for your funny, kind and decent guy to make an effort to de-grime at the end of a long day.
DEAR AMY: My niece has turned into a devil child. Her mother died when she was young. She is a teenager now. Her father (my brother) has always had limited emotional maturity.
My mom and I stepped in, handling most of the parental responsibilities, including providing lots of love and emotional support.
She spends most of her time at my parents' house. She has always been a moody child but has become unbearable to the point of being downright mean with her surliness and lack of respect toward everyone in the family.
She is in therapy, but it has not helped. She recently began taking antidepressants. We cannot take it anymore. We can say nothing to her without her blowing up at us. We are at our wits end and afraid that, eventually, one of us is going to snap and say something we will regret. Please help! -- Almost Frayed
DEAR FRAYED: Teen girls are not the most predictable and emotionally stable creatures to start with, even teens who have the advantage of family stability seem to change overnight, and your niece's situation sounds particularly unstable and challenging.
All of the adults in this family system should engage in her therapy so that you may learn how to communicate with her and she can adopt some reasonable limits and habits.
Giving an antidepressant to someone who is still in the throes of adolescence should not be done without the family also participating in counselling. Depression is a family disease.
Read the insightful book, Why Do They Act That Way? -- Revised and Updated: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen by David Walsh (2014, Atria Books).
DEAR AMY: I thought your answer to "A Mom" was way off. Mom is in a same-sex relationship and her girlfriend sleeps over on the weekends. You suggested that she should let parents know about this when her kids have a sleepover.
It is not her job to do this. The burden is on the parents of the other kids to figure this out. -- Also a Mom
DEAR MOM: Some other readers agree with you. I don't.