Carolyn Hax: Illness clouds this budding romance

Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post
(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)
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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dear Carolyn:

For three months I've dated a man I like very much. We're both in our fifties. I have teens at home; he never married. He is bright, kind, generous and hardworking. There are some red flags about him (borderline hoarder) but I figured time would sort them out or we would break up. That's midlife romance for you.

One thing I HAD intervened in was his health: He hadn't seen a doctor in years, despite having had a small stroke in the past. To please me, he was just re-starting care with his GP.

He had a major stroke two weeks ago. He didn't 'fess up for days, so by the time I dragged him to the hospital it was too late to do anything but deal with the fallout. The outlook is grim.

He has an elderly mother and two sibs who live hours away and some close friends. He's in a rehab hospital, and his friends and I try to visit daily. I'm in an odd position: He doesn't want me to be too involved in medical decision-making, but he really needs my support and companionship.

I need some help sorting out my priorities, among my children's typical adolescent issues and my very demanding job.

My kids have to come first. Second, I have to support myself and them (I get no financial support from their dad). And then I will squeeze in whatever time and energy I can for my sweetheart. But Carolyn, my life was already full of obligations and duties before this happened. How am I ever going to take on another burden? Yet I don't want to desert this kind and deserving man.


It's understandable that you're torn up about this, for so many reasons:

What happened to him is awful;

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