Jul 16, 2023

Dear Annie: My boyfriend’s daughter paid for everyone’s meal but mine

Dear Annie: I have been married to my second husband for 40 years, and we are both in our 80s and not in the best of health. My problem is extended visits from my sons — one son lives in Asia, and the other lives across the other side of the U.S. Due to the time and expense involved in traveling, the one living in another country likes to stay three or four weeks. The last visit caused tension and was almost more than I could bear.

Talk has begun about the next visit, and I don’t know how to communicate that the visits are too much for me to handle. Last time we spoke, I told him that I could only open my home for a day or two. He became angry and said that wouldn’t make it worth his while to come. I don’t want to alienate him, but at our age, we don’t need this. I would appreciate any advice you could give me.

— Feeling Guilty

Dear Feeling Guilty: Traveling across the world for a one- or two-day visit is indeed not worth his while. You can find a happy medium between a couple of days and three or four weeks. Set a finite amount of time for the trip — maybe two weeks — and then communicate your boundaries before your sons get home.

Maybe those boundaries involve helping with household chores or giving you a certain amount of quiet time every day. Having your sons around should make your lives easier — not to mention more enjoyable — provided you communicate your expectations ahead of time.

Dear Annie: After more than 30 years, the love of my life and I have finally reunited. Only now we have adult children who sometimes make things a little more complicated. I have tried very hard to keep things flowing as far as his relationship with his daughters goes, providing opportunities, time, space and my own money to make sure he spends special occasions with them.

This past weekend, his daughter invited us over to see her new place and celebrate my husband’s birthday. So I filled the tank in the car, which is sorely needing repairs, and we drove an hour and a half to his daughter’s house and then to the restaurant. Upon ordering, his daughter announced to the waitress that they would only be paying for their meals (her, her fiancé and her dad), and my meal would be on a separate check.

My partner and I awkwardly laughed it off at the restaurant, but I was left feeling like I was punched in the stomach. I was fine to pay for my own dinner, but she and her fiancé are in their mid-20s and have great jobs, so I feel like there was more at play here than them simply being cheap. I would love your opinion on this.

— Stuck With the Check

Dear Stuck: Well, she certainly loses points for etiquette. Singling you out to pay for your own meal, after you made the effort to come see her new place and celebrate with the family, is undeniably rude behavior.

It’s great that you support your husband’s relationships with his children. Despite the difficulties you’re facing, it’s important that you continue to do so. Ask your husband if his daughter has any reason to be upset with you, or if he has any theories as to why she might be having a hard time accepting you into her family. Without more context, it’s hard to know why she is acting this way — but it does seem to extend beyond basic table manners.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected].


If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation. By browsing this site, we may share your information with our social media partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy.