Dear Abby: I go hiking, biking as disabled husband stays home alone

Reader needs to have some active time but feels guilty going out while injured spouse is in constant pain.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband is in his 40s and permanently disabled from injuries received in a recent automobile accident. He is in pain, on pain medicine 24 hours a day and basically sleeps his days away. His pain and immobility make intimacy impossible.

He doesn’t object when I go out with friends or participate in activities he is unable to do, like hiking, biking or kayaking, yet I feel guilty for leaving him home alone five days a week, and sometimes the entire weekend. His mother thinks I’m a terrible person for doing this, but I can’t just sit home with him after I get home from work because he falls asleep watching TV.

We both know this will be the situation for the rest of our lives. This self-care is very important to my physical and mental well-being, as the financial stress is also overwhelming. How do I continue to live an active life and still be the wife he needs? — SAD FATE IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR SAD FATE: If the situation were reversed, is this the way you would like your husband to treat you? This is an honest discussion you should be having with him. I will be frank. Leaving a disabled spouse five days (nights?) a week or for an entire weekend on a regular basis seems excessive.

You promised to love, honor and cherish this man in sickness and in health. Would it be possible to include him on an occasional outing — if he can handle it — so he can have some fresh air and a change of scenery? If you must go out to preserve your sanity, it would be compassionate to arrange for someone to stay with him so he’s not alone in case there is some kind of emergency.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a woman of 28. I have started falling in love with a girl I met recently. We talked for a while, expressed feelings for each other and decided to start dating. She lives in Minnesota and I’m in Texas. She’s also in college. I think she’s 18 or 19. I know our age span is a little wide, but we didn’t care about that.

Things were going OK, but recently she’s gone quiet and hasn’t been talking to me as often. She said she just needs some time to herself and that she’s having some second thoughts about all of this. I talked with her about it, and she told me she still loves me and wants me to come visit her, which I’m planning to do soon. It feels like she’s got cold feet, and I’m not sure what to do. I love her. I want to make this work between us, but I feel unwanted and unloved. What should I do? — STARTING TO LOSE FAITH

DEAR STARTING: What you should do is recognize that you and this young woman are in very different places in your lives. You are ready for a serious commitment to someone. She’s a college student who isn’t yet out of her teens. If she needs time to herself so she can figure out whether she is ready for the kind of relationship you have in mind, give it to her. Do not force it. If that means postponing your visit, so be it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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