Dear Abby: Should I date others while wife is bedridden with severe dementia?

Man visits her often but also craves companionship and wonder how to explain his situation to a new lady friend.

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DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married for 40 years. Fifteen years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer and given 18 months to live. Well, she is still around. Because of the illness and experimental medications, she was bedridden, and her dementia grew steadily worse. Left with no other options because of problems with insurance, I placed her into a nursing facility six years ago.

I am still at an age at which I have, I hope, many active years ahead of me. I visit her often, but I have a need for companionship that she obviously can no longer fulfill. I’m friends with a few women (usually friends of friends), and from time to time have the urge to become closer. I go out to dinners, music venues, art shows, etc.

I am torn about whether to live my remaining days in loneliness or pursue the possibilities. Is it wrong to want companionship in my situation? At what point should I explain my situation without scaring off a nice lady friend? Your opinion would be helpful to me as another perspective. — ANONYMOUS, OF COURSE

DEAR ANONYMOUS: What happened to your wife is unfortunate, and you both have my sympathy. Wanting and needing companionship are normal. It is important to ask yourself: If the situation were reversed and YOU were in a nursing home suffering from dementia, to what extent would you want your wife to go on with HER life? Whatever you decide after that, it is crucial you not forget you have a responsibility to make sure she is being well cared for. This means visiting her often to ensure it, because dementia patients do better when they know someone loves them.

As to how to explain to women that you are married, well, the ones who are friends of friends already know that. And those you meet who don’t know should be told during the course of your first serious conversation. It’s the honorable thing to do.

DEAR ABBY: I got married six months ago to an awesome guy. Now we’re expecting. Although I don’t want the child, I am trying hard to want it. But I keep coming back to overwhelming regret, because it is too soon. I know this means the world to him. Truly, he is amazing, but his light is my doom.

I need time away from him to see how I feel. We are never apart, and it’s making me irritable, like I have nothing of my own anymore. HE’S ALWAYS THERE. I suppose it is a good thing, but I can’t breathe. What do I do? I feel like an awful wife and person now. What if the baby comes and I turn into some evil mom? — NEUROTIC IN NEVADA

DEAR NEUROTIC: Healthy relationships, marriage included, are all about honest communication. Tell your amazing husband you need time alone to recharge and process your thoughts. Was he this way before you were married, or could it be because you are pregnant and, in his eyes, “vulnerable”?

You are not an awful person for needing alone time, and it won’t make you an evil mom, so calm your fears. You may just need respite, which you won’t receive until you make it known. Because, I assume, you are seeing your OB-GYN regularly, it is important you discuss the emotions you are experiencing with them. You may be suffering from depression, which some pregnant women do. Your feelings may also be normal, considering your pregnancy was not planned.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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