DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend is 31 and still goes to his mother’s house and spends the night, even though we live less than 15 minutes away. He knows it upsets me, yet every time she asks him to spend the night, he goes. He left our children home alone while I worked overnight because it was her birthday.

His relationship with his mother is a large part of why we aren’t married, and the fact that he continues to spend the night there is leading to huge fights. Is this normal or not? — FED UP IN OHIO

DEAR FED UP: That your boyfriend would leave minor children alone and without supervision while he spends the night with his mother — birthday or not — is unusual. It would have been more logical for him to have invited his mother to your house to celebrate the occasion.

That said, you cannot control what your boyfriend does. I suspect there’s a lot more wrong with your relationship than the fact that he hasn’t emotionally separated from his mother. You two could benefit from couples counseling to sort out not only his relationship with his mother, but also your relationship with each other. If he won’t go, go alone to get clarity on how to proceed with your future.

DEAR ABBY: I have a good friend who has a frustratingly bad habit. Every year, she makes a point of mentioning her upcoming birthday at least a couple of times a week, starting about four months before the day. It is never mentioned the rest of the year.

If I want to buy someone a birthday gift, I make the effort to find out when their special day is and act accordingly. If I don’t wish to provide a gift, then no amount of nagging will guilt me into it. I do not want to end the friendship because she is an otherwise nice person and a good friend, but I’m sick of the nagging. Any suggestions on how to tactfully but effectively deal with this? — NAGGED IN FLORIDA

DEAR NAGGED: The next time your friend starts up, respond by saying, “You have already told me.” When she does it for the third time say, “You know, this is getting old. It looks like you are soliciting a gift.” Then tell her if she keeps it up, you WON’T buy her one. I’ll bet it works!

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