Outgrown This Relationship
Dear Annie: I've been in a relationship with "Stuart" for almost three years now. In that time I've grown a lot, working to become healthier physically, mentally and financially. I eat healthily and work hard at my job. I no longer drink alcohol. I want to be the best version of myself.
However, Stuart is in a different mindset. He smokes a pack of cigarettes a day and marijuana several times a day and in his free time is glued to Facebook or games. He wakes up daily hacking up the gunk in his lungs.
I'm concerned for his health; my dad died when I was 17, and he had similar issues. I've brought this up with my boyfriend but he acts like I'm nagging. He seems to have no motivation. He is content as he is, and I don't feel comfortable forcing him to change. I don't want to hurt him because he has been wonderful to me during tough times. But I feel we have grown to be very different people. Or maybe just I have changed.
How do couples continue if one is evolving and the other is content as is (even if unhealthy)? -- Sad in Illinois
Dear Sad in Illinois: From your letter, it sounds as though you are emotionally intelligent, with keen self-insight. Because of that, I believe you will recognize the right choice for yourself (and be able to act on it) once you develop just a little more self-confidence. Toward that end, I strongly encourage you to read "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie and to attend a few meetings of a support group such as Nar-Anon (www.nar-anon.org), LifeRing Recovery (www.lifering.org) or Co-Dependents Anonymous (coda.org). I have a feeling you'll recognize your story in others' there, and that solidarity will give you the strength to keep growing, whether or not that means replanting yourself elsewhere.
Dear Annie: I just read your response to "Yuletide Usurper," who had a falling out with her sister over a fight on Christmas years ago, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. From personal experience, it is worth taking the time to mend fences now before too much time passes.
Not too long ago, my younger sister pushed me out of her life. My husband and I had moved about six hours away for his job, and that seemed to deeply upset her.
Over the next five years, I called, sent cards to the kids, did whatever I could, but we never reconnected. One night, I was trying to look up my niece online to see if she'd graduated high school. Instead, I found my sister's obituary. She had died a month earlier of a chronic illness. For years, she'd been sick, and I never knew. She excluded me from her obituary and had no services. I've tried calling my brother-in-law, wrote to them, begged my niece or nephew to call me. It's been three years -- nothing.
The moral of the story is this: Don't let another day go by without making up. In retrospect, I should have driven the six hours and made her listen to me. She was only 56 years old, and I always thought we'd reconnect at some point. It never happened. -- MM
Dear MM: I am so sorry for the loss of your sister and the way things were between you two when she died. Your point is well taken: We should do all we can to mend fences with family members. But for what it's worth, it sounds as though you did do that. You tried, again and again, to reconnect with your sister. My heart hurts for you that, for whatever reason, she was unable to meet you halfway. I appreciate your letter.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.