Dear Annie: My husband, “Sam,” grew up in a family that was physically abusive. In order to escape, he joined the military after high school. We live far away from his parents, but there are times when he wants to talk and visit with them, often followed by periods of zero contact for months on end because he is hurt again.
His parents have taken some steps to improve the situation, and they would like to start over. Right now, however, Sam isn’t willing. He hasn’t spoken to them in four months and gets upset if I suggest talking to them on his behalf.
I’m concerned that this is an unhealthy relationship and that his parents may blame me for the lack of contact. Our church is helping Sam learn about forgiveness, but he isn’t there yet. Should I keep up communication with his folks or let him deal with it? - Sam’s Wife
Dear Wife: You are kind to want your husband to have a relationship with his parents, but it is up to Sam to decide what he can handle. Tell Sam you’d like to send his parents cards on holidays and birthdays, just to keep in touch, but beyond that, you will not get involved unless he asks you to. Don’t worry about his parents assessing blame. Your job is to support your husband, not his parents.
Dear Annie: I had to respond to “Lonely,” the 87-year-old widower who wants to marry his 71-year-old lady friend, but she won’t introduce him to her family. He might be talking about me.
I am 71 and a two-time widow. I had to take care of two husbands, and it was exhausting. I have decided never to marry again. It would be nice to have someone to go to dinner with, but I’m afraid some 87-year-old will think he is in love when he really just wants someone to take care of him.
I suspect this is “Lonely’s” problem. Taking care of an invalid is not easy, and the worry and effort drags a person down until she is unwell herself. This guy should be content with the companionship. - Twice Widowed
Dear Twice: Your experiences have not been easy, but that doesn’t mean every 87-year-old man is going to require care. We do agree, however, that many men enjoy having someone to cook and clean for them and hope that a wife will do so. We don’t blame you for preferring dinner out.
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