Dear Annie: I met George 12 years ago, and we began a relationship. I am now 78 and a widow.
George is married and refuses to leave his wife.
We see one another six days a week, and he tells me constantly that he loves me very much. I love him, and my world would collapse without him.
We secretly go places all the time, and as far as I know, his wife hasn’t a clue. What can I do at this point? – Want It All
Dear Want: We will say this as clearly as we can: George is not going to leave his wife. Ever.
He is quite content with things as they are, and you, apparently, will continue to put up with this arrangement because you don’t want to be without him.
Either leave him already or stop expecting the situation to change. Whatever you decide, accepting reality will relieve some of your stress.
Dear Annie: I am 27 and happily married to a wonderful man. We see each other as complete equals and do not believe in gender roles.
Growing up, my father and I didn’t always see eye to eye, especially on this issue.
As an adult, I began using a hyphenated last name so I could include my mother’s maiden name, calling myself “Susan Smithsonian-Fleur.”
I didn’t like what the father-to-husband tradition symbolized and also wanted my mother’s French-Canadian heritage to be represented. (I’m aware that Mom’s maiden name is my grandfather’s name, but I had to start somewhere.)
I decided to keep that name when I married, but things became unwieldy.
For example, our address labels read, “William and Susan Johnson-Smithsonian-Fleur.”
Eventually, I began using Fleur on everything because it was shorter and simpler.
My husband is extremely supportive, but not my father. I have tried repeatedly to explain that this is not a deliberate attempt to offend him, but he is still upset that I no longer hyphenate.
I’d like to try again, possibly in a letter, to illustrate the reasons behind my position.
My husband loves the idea, but my mother is scared I’ll just stir up a hornet’s nest. I love my father, which I why I am agonizing over this. How do I get out from between a rock and a hard place? – A Canadian Feminist
Dear Feminist: Try to see this from Dad’s side. He is not so much offended as hurt.
You have chosen to stop using his name, and even if he understands why, it makes him feel less important than your mother, and that his heritage deserves to be discarded.
Instead of just explaining your reasons, tell your father how much you love him, what a wonderful influence he has been on your life, and that a good part of your strength has come from his love and support.
And expect to be cut out of the will.
Dear Annie: I brought my Aunt Thelma home from the nursing home, and two days later, her COPD got worse and she went to the emergency room. There, she suffered a stroke.
Aunt Thelma had made it clear to my uncle that she didn’t wish to be kept alive artificially. Unfortunately, she never put those wishes in writing. Because she had no DNR or advance directive, the hospital staff put her on a respirator.
The problem is, every time the doctors ask “Uncle John” about keeping her on life support, he says sweet things like, “Keep her alive as long as you can.” So my aunt is still on a machine that pushes air into her lungs.
It’s all very sad, but the reason for my letter is to remind people to please, please have this talk with your loved ones so they truly understand what you want, and then write it down. Don’t let the emotions take over. – Marie
Dear Marie: As unpleasant as this topic is, everyone should discuss it with their loved ones and put their wishes in writing, with copies to everyone involved. Thanks for the reminder.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.