My boyfriend and I have been together for ten years, living together for three and a half. Growing up, he had a very dysfunctional relationship with his mom, who chose him to be a surrogate husband. She is controlling and manipulative, and so is his younger brother. Since he moved in with me, though, he has made tremendous progress in becoming independent and walking out from the shadows of his domineering family. For the past several months, I began to take him for granted. First, I was consumed with work, and then I was asked to resign. I became quite depressed, and so I decided to take a bucket list trip with my mom. The day before I was supposed to come back, my boyfriend announced he would need to stay with his mom (who has stage four endometrial cancer and ascites) for the foreseeable future, at least the next few weeks. Now, it's been more than three. With each passing week, he becomes more and more disconnected emotionally, reverting back to a dysfunctional relationship with his mother. He describes her behavior as hysterical, screaming, cursing, and micromanaging his behavior. She also uses the dog as a control mechanism to ensure he's there. She won't allow anyone else to take care of her. Her best friend has offered many times, but she always refuses. She demands that her oldest son - my boyfriend - stay with her constantly and throws a temper tantrum if he leaves. She says that if he brings in a professional caretaker, she would swallow sleeping pills. It reminds me of the time last summer when she needed him to take her to surgery; she said if I came along, she'd call a cab. Now, she refuses to eat or drink anything healthy unless my boyfriend is there. He says he puts up with all this because he doesn't want her to die. I care for him deeply, so it's painful for me to hear him constantly complain about being in this toxic environment. Communication between us has been sporadic. Furthermore, he is acting as though it's him and his mom against the world - but where does that leave me? I feel guilty about taking him for granted and possibly pushing him away. In his absence, I've done a lot of reflection and will make a conscious effort to appreciate him more. He really was very good to me. But counting the time I was traveling, it's been over a month now that we've really had a life together. My questions are: 1) How can I be a supportive partner when he keeps shutting me out? 2) How can I show him I need him and will appreciate all he has to offer so that he'll come home? Thank you!!!