Dear Annie: I am 26, have two small children and am involved with a terrific man who is 20 years older. I have been with “Chet” for two years and we recently moved in together. Chet treats me wonderfully and says he loves me, but he just ended his second marriage in order to be with me and has made it clear he never wants to get married again. He’s quite content just to live together.
Is this fair to me, when I have never been married and want a wedding of my dreams and two more children? Do live-in relationships like this work out over the long haul? Am I being stupid to give up my dream, or should we end it now so I can find a man my own age who is willing to give it everything? Will I regret the age difference in 10 years? I am so confused. — Need Advice in Arizona
Dear Arizona: We think you could use a little more time on your own, caring for yourself and your children, before committing to anyone. We don’t know if living with Chet would be successful in the “long haul,” but we do know if you are unhappy about major aspects of the relationship, it will create resentment and anger and things will not work out. If you want marriage and more children, find someone who wants that, too. It doesn’t appear to be Chet.
Dear Annie: I’m 17 years old and worried about my dad. He’s almost 50 and is extremely fat with terrible eating habits. I know he eats at fast-food restaurants at least twice daily, and when he comes home, he eats nonstop junk until he goes to bed.
His family has a history of heart disease. My grandpa (his dad) and my uncle (his brother) have had heart attacks, and both had open-heart surgery in the last two years. Dad doesn’t seem to care. He still eats greasy, fatty foods and never exercises. In fact, when he walks up the stairs, he has to stop to catch his breath.
Dad has tried diets, Weight Watchers, etc., but nothing seems to work because he is still gaining weight. I want him to give me away at my wedding someday, but at this rate, I don’t see it happening. I’ve told Dad I want him to be healthier, but he doesn’t listen. What can I do to help him? — Desperate Daughter
Dear Desperate: Your dad has given up. He knows his family history, but finds dieting and exercise too difficult. And it sounds as if he is coping with a stressful day.
You can’t make him lose weight, but you can encourage healthy habits in your household. If possible, enlist Mom’s help. Whoever buys the groceries should forego the junk and stock up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Have easy-to-grab healthy snacks available, like carrot sticks and yogurt, but keep on hand a few low-sugar, low-fat items (like pretzels) for those occasions when he’s desperate. Ask him to go with you for a father-daughter walk after dinner to talk about your day. (Don’t mention his weight.) We can’t guarantee it will work, but at least you will know you are doing the best you can to help him.
Dear Annie: You’ve printed several letters about people addicted to prescription painkillers. Please tell them about Narcotics Anonymous (na.org) at P.O. Box 9999, Van Nuys, CA 91409. NA is for anyone addicted to drugs, prescription or otherwise. It’s based on the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
A.A. is also available to drug users, and Al-Anon is an excellent support group geared toward family and friends of alcoholics, although family and friends of any substance abuser are welcome. — Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: Thank you for the opportunity to once again mention Narcotics Anonymous for drug abusers. For family and friends, Al-Anon is an excellent support group, and we also recommend Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) at 1-800-477-6291.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.22.08