Dear Ellie: I’m 21, finishing third-year university, and the fourth year of having the same girlfriend. Now, everything’s changing and I’m unsure how to handle it.
My girlfriend’s very smart, already accepted to a Master’s Degree program at an American University. I’m hoping for acceptance this year or next, into an advanced course at my same campus, getting me closer to my goal.
But I won’t be seeing my girlfriend this summer as she’ll be living too far away, when the costs of higher education mean neither of us can afford to travel.
I know we’re young but all our friends think it’s amazing that we’ve stayed a couple during very stressful times of long hours studying and being apart.
What do you think of our chances of ending up together?
Please Be Honest
The future depends on several realities, including both having new experiences, meeting new people in different locales, with added pressures. But it can work.
You’ll both need to expect/understand/accept those realities, without jealous over-reactions and distrust. It requires strong commitment to your goals, but brings added maturity, and lifetime friendships.
Right now, lasting romance is an unknowable question. But if you stay connected and respectful, disallowing jealousy and insecurity, you have the chance for a remarkable, loving future together.
Dear Ellie: This is about an unpopular personal choice.
I’m 75, happily married 52 years. I have children and grandchildren.
The physical side of our marriage has declined but we still have a very solid relationship. I love and deeply care about my wife. We’ve had excellent years, mostly good health, rewards from grown children, much travel and comfortable living, not over the top.
My health issues are each only a bit debilitating. So, with little left on my bucket list, I don’t want to become incapacitated physically so that I can’t enjoy cycling/golf/some tennis.
I don’t want to become mentally incapacitated and become a “burden” to family members. I’ve seen both types of decline in family/friends.
So, if I could live until 80 and have rewarding years without major health issues affecting my quality of life, I’d be satisfied to call it a day, while I’m “on top.”
My spouse, children and some friends think this mindset is ridiculous and selfish.
However, I’m content with the life I’m still living. I do NOT have suicidal thoughts nor am I depressed. I’m happy to call it a day while still in good mental/physical shape.
Is my thought process selfish? Uncaring? Disrespectful of others?
You often write about people who have relationship issues wherein both parties can’t see the forest for the trees. I think I see things pretty clearly.
But my wife rolls her eyes at this theory. Am I off track?
80 is Good Enough
Maybe you should take your chances. One relative of mine lived till just days before his 105th birthday. I was present at the speech he gave on his 104th — clever, amusing, and coherent.
Maybe your wife’s braver than you, and thinks it’s mean and selfish for you to shut down, leaving her alone, having to manage by herself for who knows how long.
And maybe your children and grandkids attained their self-confidence and “rewards” through having a strong-minded patriarch. Imagine their hurt and disappointment to later learn you could have lasted, say, 10 more years than you’re allowing — years when they would’ve hoped for that same healthy gene you’re denying.
Nobody wants to decline. But most people stick around as long as they can, for everyone’s sake.
FEEDBACK regarding the son who needed guidance (May 3):
Reader: “Some adult children still live with their parents for free.
“Yet part of being a responsible adult is to realize that it costs to live — rent, utilities, food, etc.
“Charging your adult child rent isn’t a crime nor must it be exorbitant. These “adults” use your heat/hydro/water and also eat the food you have bought.
“It’s the parent’s job to initiate the concept of responsibility — don’t abdicate your responsibility because you don’t want to “offend” your adult son by asking him to contribute.
“As a single mom, I raised two children and we struggled a lot. During brief times they were with me as adults, I charged a minimal rent.
“To the Worried Mother — Let your son struggle to make some tough choices, and set his own priorities so, when he leaves your safety net, he has less chance of falling so hard.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
For young love to mature, despite separate locales, focus on honesty and trust.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.