Living arrangements very incompatible

Annie Lane

Dear Annie: A year after my wife of 21 years and I divorced, I reconnected with a woman I had met some 30 years before. I was happy to hear from her; I wanted to marry her before I married my ex-wife. We started seeing each other. After a year, we started talking about living together and decided to rent a home.

When she moved in, I quickly realized my mistake. She has two cats and a lot of junk. But we bought a home two years later anyway — my second mistake.

She does not cook or clean the house. Her cats tear up everything, and she won’t have them declawed. We do not sleep together, because she lets the cats in the bedroom and there is cat hair everywhere. I have tried for two years to get her to change, but she won’t. She says that she is retired and can do what she wants.

Annie, I care for this lady, but I am fed up. I have tried everything I can think of to get her to change. She put the down payment on the house and pays the utility bills. I make the house payments. She used her savings on the down payment, and I do not want to just dump it on her, so I am asking: What should I do? I do not like living like this. I hate going home because the smell is overwhelming when you walk in the door. I want love and compassion and a nice home to go to. — A Lonely Blue Boy

Dear Lonely Blue Boy: As an animal person myself, I’m probably not the most sympathetic audience for your letter. Declawing is akin to cutting a person’s finger off at the last knuckle. Few vets will even perform the surgery anymore because they consider it inhumane.

But the feline friction is merely a symptom of the real problem. You and your partner have incompatible styles of living. If at least one of you were flexible and willing to adapt, this wouldn’t be a deal breaker. But because you’re both set in your ways, I’m afraid that it is.

Speak with a financial adviser about the best options for you to salvage as much of your money as you can, in a way that’s fair to you both. The sooner you move out the sooner you’ll move on to living your happiest lives.

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