Dear Annie: I am in my late 70s and have been with a wonderful man for some time now. “Joe” and I both lost our spouses several years ago. We each own our own homes and are debt-free, although I have to watch my finances more closely.
Joe has asked me to sell my house and move in with him, but I have mixed emotions regarding our relationship. Although he has a very nice home, I am quite comfortable in my own place. To simply move in together without being married makes me wonder about his level of commitment to me.
Joe is a kind and caring person. He has told me I can stay in his home for a lifetime should something happen to him. What if I moved in with him and then our relationship changed for the worse? I would no longer have a home, and at my age, it would be very difficult to begin all over. Should I just end the relationship now and be alone? I truly love this man, but I am at a crossroads.
-- Torn in Toledo
Dear Torn: When someone asks you to move in with him, and you aren't ready to do so, the answer is a simple “no.” You don't have to end the relationship over it. If you need a commitment to marry before moving in, say so. Joe cannot read your mind. If he doesn't wish to marry you, feel free to continue to date him, but keep your own home. You'll feel more secure.
Dear Annie: My stepdaughter has announced that she will be getting married next year. She would like a destination wedding in Tahiti.
Her father and I do not have a lot of money. We told her we could give her a certain amount toward the wedding, but we could not afford for both of us to attend. Her response was, “You'll figure it out.”
My husband is two years away from retirement, and we refuse to take out a loan. I'm afraid this is going to cause tension in the family. Please help.
-- Not Going
Dear Not: Your stepdaughter seems rather self-absorbed. Let her know that you have “figured it out” by deducting the cost of your airfare and hotel from the amount you have offered to give her toward the wedding. When she objects (and she will), be excessively sweet and say in that case, her father will attend without you, and wish her well. People who plan exotic destination weddings place a huge burden on their friends and family and cannot demand that everyone show up.
Dear Annie: Please tell “Holding My Breath” that the kindest thing she can do is tell this woman with “killer breath” to see a periodontist to rule out gum disease. If inadequately treated, it can lead to bone loss and the loss of her teeth.
While in medical school, I learned a little about gingivitis. Two of the major symptoms of this disease are bleeding gums and bad breath. Many years ago, I failed to tell my wife that she had bad breath, because I didn't want to hurt her feelings. I have regretted my ignorance ever since. For the past 40 years, she has endured complicated, uncomfortable and expensive procedures, which now include dental implants. Expenses have exceeded $100,000.
We have discovered that regular six-month checkups with our dentist and dental hygienist are absolutely necessary. We also make sure to brush our teeth twice daily for at least two minutes at a time, along with daily flossing and rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash. Since we have started this regimen, neither of us has bad breath or bleeding gums. Her dentist can recommend the appropriate care products.
-- An MD Who Learned the Hard Way