Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: My wife and I have been hap­pily mar­ried for 45 years. Mar­ry­ing her re­mains the best and wis­est thing I’ve ever done. But we’re get­ting older.

I’m 73 and in good health. She’s 76 and has had sev­eral med­i­cal is­sues. I’m be­gin­ning to re­al­ize I may out­live her.

I can’t imag­ine life with­out her. Where can I seek ad­vice on pre­par­ing my­self for what would be the great­est tragedy of my life? — Wor­ried in Cal­i­for­nia

Dear Wor­ried: Un­for­tu­nately, I don’t think it’s pos­si­ble to truly pre­pare your­self for a loss of great mag­ni­tude. I also won­der if it is even wise to spend pre­cious time try­ing.

Life can be so strange and fickle that the things we an­tic­i­pate and try to pre­pare for ei­ther don’t hap­pen the way we thought they would, or our feel­ings and re­ac­tions end up be­ing very dif­fer­ent af­ter the fact.

I be­lieve the fol­low­ing fac­tors can cre­ate a pos­i­tive ground­ing for cop­ing with stress and loss: Your healthy re­la­tion­ships with friends and fam­ily. Your spir­i­tual, emo­tional and phys­i­cal health. Your in­tel­lec­tual acu­ity and cu­rios­ity. Your re­la­tion­ship with the nat­u­ral world. Your abil­ity or in­ter­est in be­ing cre­ative.

And — most of all — feel­ing “seen,” loved and held up by fel­low hu­man be­ings. A lov­ing nuz­zle from an an­i­mal pal who needs you can be in­cred­i­bly heal­ing and sus­tain­ing.

These are all life en­hance­ments you can work on now, with the love of your life by your side.

Dear Amy: I am a mid­dle-aged wo­man. I have al­ways been so­cially ac­tive, with a wide range of friend­ships — both per­sonal and pro­fes­sional. I re­cently be­came in­volved with a man and the re­la­tion­ship has be­come ex­clu­sive. I re­ally have no de­sire to date any­one else. My prob­lem is that he doesn’t en­joy go­ing out to restau­rants, night­clubs, movies or the like. And now that it is clear to peo­ple that I have a steady boyfriend, I don’t get asked out.

I think the sin­gle women feel that I am no longer in­ter­ested in girls’ nights out and the sin­gle men see me as un­avail­able. My boyfriend has ac­tive re­la­tion­ships with work­mates and rel­a­tives, while I have no of­fice mates and no liv­ing fam­ily. Ba­si­cally, I get bored and lonely, and worry that I am turn­ing into a her­mit with noth­ing to say.

I won­der if I should break up with this man and hit the dat­ing world again. I have gen­tle­men friends who would like to date me. I just don’t care about them the way I care about this man. But I feel like stay­ing in this ex­clu­sive re­la­tion­ship will only make me feel more cut off as time passes. I re­ally don’t see how I could com­mit in a more per­ma­nent way to this type of life. Any sug­ges­tions? — Rest­less

Dear Rest­less: You have de­scribed your steady re­la­tion­ship as a ba­sic so­cial mis­match be­tween you — a but­ter­fly — and your more in­tro­verted guy. Sin­gle men may see you as “un­avail­able” be­cause, be­ing in an ex­clu­sive and monog­a­mous re­la­tion­ship is pretty much the very def­i­ni­tion of be­ing (sex­u­ally or ro­man­ti­cally) un­avail­able. Many sin­gle peo­ple don’t pur­sue mak­ing friend­ship plans with some­one in an ex­clu­sive re­la­tion­ship be­cause they don’t want to be per­ceived as en­croach­ing on the re­la­tion­ship.

How­ever — you also seem to dis­count your own role and re­spon­si­bil­ity when it comes to your per­sonal so­cial life and friend­ships. If you want to con­tinue to be so­cially ac­tive (and I hope you do), you will have to take the ini­tia­tive. Make so­cial plans, join or­ga­ni­za­tions and make sure to see your friends at least once a week.

Be­ing iso­lated and feel­ing alone is not good for you.

Dear Amy: While read­ing the ques­tion from “Mind­ful Mom,” who won­dered how to curb her young neph­ews from de­priv­ing the rest of the fam­ily of food at gath­er­ings, my first thought was — make a sec­ond pie. Put out a smaller por­tion of a dish or dessert at first, and while the boys are pre­oc­cu­pied with their plates, put out the re­main­der for the oth­ers. — Fam­ily Buf­fet Sur­vivor

Dear Sur­vivor: There are many ways to trick these young vo­ra­cious eaters into leav­ing some food for the oth­ers, but I be­lieve the best idea is to teach them about por­tions, man­ners and aware­ness of the needs of oth­ers.

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