DEAR AMY: I am 74; my wife of 53 years is 71. Our marriage is solid, and it is my strongest desire to support my wife in every way possible, especially giving her things that we may not have had resources for in our younger years. I am blessed to be very healthy, and I am an avid exerciser, now getting into short-distance triathlons. My wife was an exercise trainer, but now has injuries and aches and pains that prohibit her from joining me in my training. She is opposed to me participating in triathlons, even though I know my physical limits and want to “complete” rather than “compete.” She fears I will die or be severely injured, thereby “ruining” our golden years. I love the sport and want to partake. She remains angry and adamantly against it. What is the best way to handle this?
DEAR DEVOTED: Your wife has physical ailments preventing her from fully participating in your interests. Have you accused her of “ruining” your golden years? (No!)
Your wife is a former trainer, and she may be more in tune with the risks of injury or illness due to extreme exercise than she is with the risks of illness or injury due to simply being alive.
I’m going to guess her concern might not be solely about physical injury, but also about the time it takes to train for these endurance races.
The way through this marital challenge is to use the same techniques that have probably served you well during your very long marriage: listening, communicating and compromising. You should not give up on your goal, but you also need to work with your wife to find new activities that you can do together. Perhaps the week after your first race, you could take a trip together. She chooses the destination and the itinerary, and you commit fully to her plan, while recovering from your race.
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend’s parents are nice people, but I don’t know them very well. His mother made a comment to me that I can’t shake. We were out to lunch one day and she made a joke that I would “make a great first wife.” She said this in front of her husband, as well as my boyfriend. I know she meant it as a joke, but every time I am around her I worry that she thinks I am not good enough for her son. This makes me uncomfortable, and honestly I don’t really like her because of it. To me, jokes come from real feelings, but are masked in a way to avoid confrontation. How do I address this with her without it being awkward or confrontational? My boyfriend does not remember her saying it, but he has my back. If we move toward marriage, we will have to address it.
Trying to Move Forward
DEAR TRYING: You want to address this statement, but you don’t want to risk any awkwardness yourself, and in that way, you are trying to take the easy way out.
But there is no easy way out.
You don’t seem able to accept this as a very failed (and unfunny) “joke,” and move on — so you will have to confront this, respectfully.
The best way to address an awkward situation is to acknowledge how awkward it is.
You should say to her, privately, “Can I ask you something? This is awkward and a little embarrassing, but you said something to me one day that I keep thinking about. . . .”
The best-case scenario would be for her to admit having said this, tell you she regrets it, reassure you that she meant no harm and apologize for having said it.
However, she may have forgotten making this remark — or she may simply deny it.
Prepare yourself: After you say your piece, you should make your peace. Look for positive things about her; after all, she might one day be your (first and only) mother-in-law.
DEAR AMY: I commend your response to “Camera Shy,” who was reluctant to allow her boyfriend to take nude photos of her. Amy, everything about your response was dead on. I just retired from more than three decades teaching high school, and it was painful to see students sometimes make mistakes that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.
DEAR TEACHER: And I commend you for choosing a career that has affected more young lives than I ever will. Thank you!