Dear Abby: Man is reluctant to share memories of his late father
Dear Abby: My boyfriend of two years and I recently moved in together. When we first met, he let me know he had lost his father to cancer a few years prior. While I know a little about his father, it is mostly superficial.
As our relationship has progressed — moving in, talking about our future — I long to know more about his dad. What kind of a father and husband was he? What special memories does my boyfriend have of spending time with him? However, when I ask questions, I get succinct answers with no elaboration. If I ask more than one question at a time, I feel like I’m pulling teeth, so I just drop it. When I asked if he’s uncomfortable talking about it, he says it’s fine, but I still know next to nothing.
The only time he brings up his dad is around the time of his dad’s birthday, the anniversary of his death or the time when they found out about his prognosis. At those times he is clearly grieving. I don’t want to cause my boyfriend more pain, and I worry that I’m being insensitive by asking him to talk about it. Yet, if we are going to start a life together and be a family one day, I want to know about his father.
— Curious in New York
Dear Curious: Your boyfriend may not want to discuss his relationship with his father because the subject is painful, either because of his death or because they were not close. If you want more details, you might have better luck asking your boyfriend’s mother or his siblings, if he has any. Because the subject clearly makes him uncomfortable, back off.
Dear Abby: I don’t smoke, but my mother and fiancee are chain smokers. This is particularly annoying when the three of us eat together because they always light up during the meal. For example, they’ll almost always have a cigarette after the salad, another before the dessert and then two or three cigarettes afterward. It ruins the meal for me.
I’m really disappointed in my fiancee, who seems to have forgotten her promise to quit smoking before our wedding day. Is there anything I can do about their smoking at the dinner table? And should I remind my fiancee about her promise to give up cigarettes and be a smoke-free bride?
— Annoyed in Alabama
Dear Annoyed: Your mother and your fiancee are nicotine addicts. That they cannot get through a meal without lighting at least three cigarettes is alarming. No rule of etiquette dictates that you must tolerate secondhand smoke while you are trying to enjoy your dinner. If they need a fix, they should be considerate enough to excuse themselves from the table to indulge.
On a slightly different, but equally important, subject, your fiancee has not “forgotten” her promise to give up cigarettes before your wedding. She’s ignoring it, and you haven’t called her on it. Please do. If you marry her, you will be living in a tobacco haze for the rest of her life, which could have a negative effect on your — and your children’s — health in the future. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
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