Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: My husband had a heart attack two years ago and nothing we do gets him to eat better. He can eat two bags of chips, a container of ice cream and lots of bread and butter every day when he comes home from work. It is so hard to watch him doing this. He just won’t listen to anyone or try to change things.
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DEAR TRYING: Then I suggest you lay off the attempted corrections and just enjoy him while you have him — and do whatever you can under the circumstances to protect yourself financially for if/when he has another health crisis that either kills him or leaves him disabled.
And keep the bingeables out of the house. Let him scarf carrots, or drive himself out to the store. Not perfect, but it’s something.
I realize this collectively might be the least welcome advice ever, but I think you have to think of him as a runaway train. And when you can’t stop it, your remaining choices are all about limiting the damage from eventual impact. I’m sorry.
RE: HUSBAND: Don’t just protect yourself financially, but also emotionally and legally. Advance directives (e.g., decisions about life support), passwords to the household accounts, a plan for funeral arrangements: Start arranging those things now, because they’re draining enough to handle in normal times, let alone with him on life support in the cardiac care unit.
RE: HUSBAND: A rather morbid thought, but one to keep in mind. What sort of life insurance does your husband have? Can you increase it? As Carolyn said, he’s a runaway train that you won’t be able to stop. At least have a cushion for if/when he derails permanently.
DEAR READERS: Wondering how realistic that is after a heart attack — but, yes, if doable, thanks.
DEAR CAROLYN: My siblings think I spoil my 26-year-old son. I am not rich but I am secure. My son is trying some entrepreneurial things and money is often tight. I don’t want him to pay for food with his credit card. I give him a few grand here and there, which makes it easier on him, but then I dare not tell my family. He does go to restaurants with friends but he’s not a big spender and I don’t want him to think he needs to picnic in the park every time he wants society.
I think really rich people subsidize their children’s entire lives all the time and that’s called high society. But I’m being called a sucker. Is there a line I shouldn’t cross?
DEAR SECURE: If your son is an ingrate or in any way showing signs of entitlement, then please reduce the cushion.
But if he’s a good kid who appreciates what you do, is trying in earnest to make something of himself — as in, working his butt off and not living the dilettante life — and demonstrates through his life choices that he intends to be a net asset to society, then please feel free to tell your family to stuff it.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.