Dear Abby: My wife has stage 4 breast cancer. She is only 51, and our most optimistic prognosis is three to four more years. Our children, 15 and 16, understand her disease, but don’t really have a sense of how much longer we all have together.
Recently we went out to dinner, and the kids started talking about my retirement plans and their college plans. Later that night, my wife told me how sad it was hearing the kids talk about things she knows she will never see.
I have been debating whether I should have a talk with the kids and perhaps suggest they avoid subjects that make their mother sad. What do you think?
Not Talking About the Future
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Before talking to your children, I think you should talk to your wife. Although your instinct is to protect her, I don’t think you can. Sadness in her situation is normal. I’m sure if you were to ask her if she’d prefer the kids censor their remarks in front of her, she would tell you she wants to hear everything she can about what they are thinking.
When people have a terminal illness, they have a right to be sad when contemplating the things they will be missing — in your wife’s case it will be seeing her children get married, her grandchildren and more. Let your children express themselves fully with their mother, and if she’s having a bad/sad day, listen and let her unburden herself. A joy shared is twice a joy, and a burden shared is half a burden.
Dear Abby: As a gift, my boyfriend, “Seth,” gave me a Chihuahua puppy. I like dogs, but have never expressed a desire to have one. In fact, I have repeatedly mentioned my dislike for small dogs and that I wouldn’t have a dog due to my travel schedule for work. I’d have to pay for food, veterinary care, toys, boarding, etc., and the dog would be alone in my apartment all day while I’m at the office.
Seth still chose to give me one. When I refused his gift, he yelled and left. My friends think I was rude, and that Seth was sweet for buying me a puppy. I tried explaining to them, but they were sarcastic and mean about my decision not to accept the dog.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened with Seth. For my birthday he bought me a smartphone, signed me up for a two-year contract and expected me to pay the monthly bill. I refused that, too. Am I wrong?
You and Seth appear to have a serious disconnect when it comes to communication. Is this the only area of your relationship in which he is tone-deaf? Your boyfriend seems to be the master of the “grand gesture,” with no thought about the responsibilities his generous gifts will impose on the recipient.
Because you told him clearly that you dislike small dogs, he should not have forced one on you. In fact, he shouldn’t have given you any living, breathing dependent creature without first having made sure it would be welcomed. You did the right thing — the humane thing — in not accepting the animal.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.