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Avoiding healthy choices could derail relationship

Dear Abby: I’ve had an 18-year-old girlfriend for six months (I’m 24). She’s a sweet girl who’s caring, thoughtful and respectful. Every day typically goes well, and we never argue about anything — except for when it comes to her health.

She is terrified of dentists and doctors. I used to be as well. But I have tried repeatedly to make her understand that, though those situations can be scary, it would be worse if she has to go to these places when it’s nearly too late. She refuses to go to a doctor or dentist’s office with me to watch what I experience. She says she’ll receive vaccinations “when it’s time” — except for the flu shot and other “nonessential” shots. She says she’ll go to the dentist when her teeth start to hurt. Her logic is, “I’m doing fine without this stuff now, so I’m OK.”

I am trying to be as patient as I can with her. I have tried to explain that her logic sounds like, “I won’t wear a seat belt because I haven’t gotten into a car accident yet.” I’m afraid I will soon grow so impatient with her ignorance that I break up with her. I don’t want to be with someone who can’t take her own health seriously. What can I do to get her to come around, face her fears and acknowledge that her health is incredibly important? — TAKING CARE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR TAKING CARE: Your concerns about this girl are valid. There is help for people who are phobic about doctors and dentists, but only if they are willing to acknowledge there is a problem, which your girlfriend is not. If you were ever to decide to start a family together, you certainly wouldn’t want this behavior passed on to your children.

In my opinion, you should end it now because it’s a deal-breaker.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend’s mother died by suicide two weeks ago. The whole family is having a hard time, and they are dealing with things in their own ways. My boyfriend has decided to move us in with his dad and sister because he wants to be near his father. I would prefer to stay living in our house since we only live about three miles away from them.

I do not want to be difficult, but I really don’t want to move. He made this decision a few days ago without consulting me. He said to come with him, or we will go our separate ways. His family and I have not always gotten along, and I’m pretty sure that moving in will make it worse. Shouldn’t I have any say in this, or must I do what makes him happy? — IN LIMBO IN OHIO

DEAR IN LIMBO: People in the throes of grief do not always make the wisest decisions. They also are not their best selves in emotionally fraught situations. You should not have been given an ultimatum.

Is this move supposed to be permanent or temporary? Because you are a couple, you should have been consulted before your boyfriend made this decision. Since your relationship with his family hasn’t been the best, the transition could be a bumpy one. If you can afford to live independently, it might be a good idea to explore that option for now.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband barely speaks to me. We both work full time and are facing the empty nest very soon. At home, I have to initiate even the smallest of small talk. He’ll never say “Good morning” or ask “How was your day?” Although I work hard to keep the house the way he likes it, he speaks up only to criticize the few times I don’t meet his standards. There’s never a word of acknowledgment when I have accomplished other elements of housekeeping.

When I laugh at the Sunday comics, he doesn’t even ask what’s funny. As a result, I have become defensive. Then he accuses me of being “dismissive of his feelings.” He says I don’t communicate with him, but when I do, he barely responds, so over the years I have basically shut down. We have been to counseling, and maybe it’s time to go again. Do you have any perspective to offer? — UNACKNOWLEDGED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR UNACKNOWLEDGED: It is definitely the right move to return to counseling. But when you do, this time speak up for yourself loud and clear. If you do, it may change the dynamics of your relationship because when he accuses you of not communicating, he is blaming the victim. Once you have said your piece, let the marriage and family therapist mediate what is certain to be a long-overdue discussion.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 25-year-old man currently dating a 39-year-old woman. We have been dating for 2 1/2 months. We have talked about our age difference a couple of times, but apart from that issue, every other aspect of our relationship is going well, including communication, intimacy and maturity.

We are not super interested in having children, and we both have expressed interest in adopting a child if we were to have one somewhere down the line. Despite this, I have heard from family (my parents, mostly) and close friends that I’m making a terrible mistake by dating a woman so much older.

They say it is not practical to marry a woman so much older because it will present major health and aging challenges as time goes by. This is the argument that most influences my feelings. Should I break up with her and tell her that the age difference is the reason? I feel I should decide soon so as not to waste her time. — NOT JUST A NUMBER IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR NOT JUST A NUMBER: You have been seeing this woman for only 2 1/2 months. The relationship is still new. That you are discussing marriage and children seems to me to be premature. My advice is to slow down. Let time dictate whether this romance develops further.

Discuss the flak you are getting from your parents with your lady friend. But the 14-year age difference does not necessarily mean that she’ll have health challenges that you won’t. Decide together whether the age difference is a deal-breaker.

DEAR ABBY: This may seem like a strange question, but my husband says our 6-year-old cat, “Taffy,” is really 42 years old. He says one cat year equals seven people years. Taffy is like a baby to me. What gives? — NEVER HEARD THAT IN NEVADA

DEAR NEVER HEARD: Your husband is right. As you may have already noticed, humans have longer lives than dogs and cats, but pets mature faster. According to veterinary medicine, the first two years of a cat’s life equal 25 human years. After that, every cat year equals four human years. This would make Taffy the ripe old age of 41 or 42. If this is shocking to you, remember that 42 is the new 22.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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