DEAR ABBY: We’ve been together for three years and plan to get married next year. Even though we do the usual things that couples do, I’m worried about something that makes me think about putting off the wedding or ending the engagement. My fiance has a son who dropped out of high school at age 16 because of mental illness. Since then, he has done nothing. His father hasn’t gotten him help for his problems, and he doesn’t have a job.
I made it clear from the start of our relationship that I don’t want us to take care of someone for the rest of their life who won’t help himself. He doesn’t want to be the one to tell his son to go. No one wants to take him in, and he constantly changes his mind about whether or not he wants help. I told my fiance that he has until the end of the year to figure out what to do, or the wedding will have to be put off. He said that if we put off the meeting now, what would stop me from putting off another meeting in the future?
He said that we should figure this out as a couple and get married if we can’t figure it out. I told him that this is a big problem that needs to be fixed before the wedding. I think it’s great that he raised his son by himself from such a young age. Please tell me what you think about what’s going on. — BIG DILEMMA IN INDIANA
When someone marries into a family, they take on all of its problems. (Every family needs them.) You shouldn’t marry this man if you don’t want to help take care of his mentally ill son. Instead of making him choose between you and the other person, make the choice yourself.
Your fiance should look into The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) if he doesn’t already know about it. NAMI is made up of families who are going through the same things he is, and hearing what has worked for them could help him. It can be found at nami.org. If you decide to get married, you might want to think about joining as well.
DEAR ABBY: How old do you have to be to stop holding hands when you go for a walk? My boyfriend thinks we’re too old to hold hands because it’s something teenagers do. I say never. He is 60 and I am 61. I just started dating again, and I love how his hand feels in mine. I was married twice, but I never had that.
He is black, and I am white. He says Black people just don’t do that. I’m not sure about that because I’ve seen a lot of couples of different ages and races holding hands. How can I make him understand that holding hands makes me feel good and gives me comfort? — AFFECTIONATE IN NEW YORK
DEAR AFFECTIONATE: If you’ve told your boyfriend that you need this and he’s made excuses and ignored you, you have to face the fact that he’s not listening. Does he also not want to hold hands behind closed doors? In Black culture, people often hold hands. A lot of African American couples of all ages like to hold hands. From where I stand, your boyfriend is either not affectionate or is afraid to show affection in public because you are an interracial couple and he doesn’t want unwanted attention.
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