DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who’s 22 and has two children, which I helped her to deliver. She is also my neighbor.
Since she moved in and divorced her husband, my husband and I have watched her make bad choices over and over again, starting with the derelict men she dates to the way she gets drunk, then drives her paper route at night. She blows her money on tattoos and then asks us for food. It’s become exhausting.
She’s now dating another man who’s obviously using her. I have a hard time not telling him off when I see him. He won’t get a job and he keeps her in perpetual relationship limbo, which forces her to focus all her attention on him and neglect her children and home.
What can I do? I value her so much I lose sleep. She constantly posts on social media that she’s lonely and everyone always leaves her, but she gets mad at me for telling her where she keeps going wrong.
Why can’t she understand that she’s doing this to herself? How can I help her see her errors, so she can move on from this awful phase? — CARING FRIEND IN FLORIDA
DEAR CARING FRIEND: Your friend has a job. If she weren’t supporting her boyfriend, she would be able to support herself and her children. The more you give her, the more reliant she will become on your handouts.
Take it from a professional: The most unwelcome advice is that which is unasked for, which is why she gets angry when you try to tell her what she’s doing wrong. She doesn’t want to hear it. The way to get someone like this to recognize her “errors” is to stop trying to save her from them.
You can’t fix what’s wrong in her life — only she can do that — so step back. If you really think her children are going hungry, contact child protective services, so those kids can get the help they need.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I are both 68. We have been engaged for a year now. When we shopped for an engagement ring, we also purchased wedding bands because the jewelry store was having a sale.
Because of our ages, I have come to feel that there is no compelling reason to get married. It would be a big legal hassle, and there’s no reason why we just cannot live together. He agrees. However, we have made a commitment to each other, and I call him my husband and he calls me his wife.
My question is, would it be OK for us to wear the wedding bands, even though we are not legally married? I wonder if other couples have done this having made that commitment to each other. Your thoughts? — HAPPILY TOGETHER
DEAR HAPPILY: No law forbids the two of you from wearing wedding rings and calling yourselves married. Others have done it. In some states, after a period of time, the arrangement would become a common-law marriage.
However, before making a final decision to do this, you and your fiance should discuss it with a lawyer. There are certain guarantees and benefits to being legally wed, because spouses have rights of inheritance and decision-making in case of illness that unwed couples do not enjoy.
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 http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.