Life Advice



Weary Widow Worries for Husband's Health

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I'm in my 70s, as is my boyfriend. For the most part, we get along. But lately, I'm starting to worry about him. He lost his fiancee about five years ago, and I lost my husband six years ago, so we both know grief.

He still buys things for his fiancee, which I think is strange. I asked him about it, and he said, "She always liked this picture, so I bought it for her." Little strange, I think. He texts her phone number when he's down. I told him he can always talk to me, but he says he likes talking to her. He also says he loves me but it's a different kind of love. What does that mean? Please give me some advice in dealing with this. -- Confused

Dear Confused: Grief is a funny thing. It has no set timeline, and it manifests itself differently in everyone. It sounds like your boyfriend is stuck, though, and could use some professional help. He needs to process and accept his loss.

Attend couples counseling so that he can address his attachment to his late fiancee and start building a future with you.

Dear Annie: I love my husband of 25 years dearly. He's a hard worker, great provider, and great husband and father to our children.

He has health issues, though. He had a massive heart attack a couple years ago and thinks that because they stented it and he's on meds, he's good to go.

He doesn't worry about what he eats and doesn't do any regular exercise. Both of his parents had heart issues and have since passed. He's 56 years old and won't get a colonoscopy even though his father had colon cancer.

I have stopped arguing with him about it and have told him I'm preparing myself to become a widow with children because he is not proactive with his health. He thinks I'm being mean and picking fights when I only care and want him to live a long and healthy life.


He only reacts or seeks help when something bad happens. I am completely the opposite and am raising my kids to be proactive with their health as well. I don't know what else to do. Please help! And asking him to talk to a counselor or psychologist is like talking to the wall! -- Widow in the Making

Dear Widow: At 56, your husband has so many beautiful moments and wonderful experiences to look forward to -- birthdays, anniversaries, retirement, weddings, grandchildren -- experiences that his parents unfortunately may not have seen due to their own health.

Instead of arguing or explaining your perspective, try to help him understand his own. The only way to take part in these milestones is to be here for them, and a reactive approach to personal health won't cut it.

We can't help people who don't want to help themselves, but the load often feels lighter when we shoulder it with someone else.

You're already teaching your kids how to take care of themselves; try to tackle healthier eating and regular exercise altogether as a family. Incorporating better habits little by little into everyday routines may help your husband realize how much better he feels when he takes care of himself and how much life he has left to live.


"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 for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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