Dear Annie: After a series of, let’s just say, not-so-nice relationships, my best friend and old college roomie set me up with a girl from his hometown named “Stephanie.” I’ve never believed in love at first sight, but this was pretty close. We hit it off and have a ton in common. A year and a half later and we’re engaged. I’m excited to make Stephanie my wife.
We decided to go to a pre-marriage retreat through our church. During the retreat, the leaders ask you all sorts of questions about your plans for the future. We were compatible on all the major answers -- except for one. “How many children would you like to have?”
I wrote that one or two would be nice; she wrote five! When we went back into our room to discuss, she explained how she came from a small family and always dreamed of having a bigger family. Well, I came from a large family and never felt that I got enough attention, so I have always wanted to have just one child — two at the most. Is this problem a deal breaker for our relationship? — Apprehensive
Dear Apprehensive: Only you can determine what your own personal deal breakers are, as they’re different for everyone. But if you’re at all willing to consider having more children, perhaps you and Stephanie could meet right in the middle and settle on having three. And if you can diplomatically reach such an important agreement, you and Stephanie have the stuff of a strong partnership. Compromise and marriage go together like a horse and carriage -- and that’s a good thing. Two hearts and minds working together are better than one.
Dear Annie: I’m writing in response to the letter from “Feeling So Bad,” who wrote about the death of her friend “Marie.” She was angry that Marie’s husband, “Bill,” didn’t provide updates about Marie’s health or inform neighbors of her death.
I am sorry that “Feeling So Bad” lost her friend, but from her letter, it appears that her only contact with Marie or Bill was by phone. I guess she never took over a casserole that Bill could have heated up for dinner. I guess she never stopped by and offered to stay with Marie so that Bill could get out of the house to run errands, take a walk, go to a movie — anything to give him some relief from the constant and often overwhelming needs of his wife. Do you know that the stress of being a caretaker often results in the death of the caretaker before the patient? (Bill apparently was able to survive his wife, but only by a year.) I feel sorry that “Feeling So Bad” was upset not to get a notice. I expect that Bill, as I did after my husband died of Alzheimer’s disease, slept for 24 hours. When my husband died, I didn’t care about getting out “notices” to so-called friends. I did call those I knew cared.
Sorry, but I’m not sympathetic. Instead of feeling bad, “Feeling So Bad” should feel guilty that she ignored the needs of her friend and hope that next time, she will find time to actually visit and provide assistance. — Voicing a Sad Experience
Dear Voicing: I’m sorry for the loss of your husband. And your letter is a good reminder that it’s important to reach out to friends and family who are grieving, even if we feel awkward or unsure of what to say. However, it seems you’re still holding on to a lot of anger toward people who weren’t there for you. For your own sake, I would encourage you to try to forgive them. Let go of that anger so you’re free to more fully embrace life.
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