Q: My husband has developed a bad case of periodontal disease. I’m afraid to kiss him because I don’t want the bacteria causing the disease to spread and his bad breath is unbearable. Our sex life is suffering because of it.
We have two beautiful children together, and I love him very much, even if he loses all his teeth at the age of 37. I have explained how extremely important oral hygiene is to overall health, especially heart health, and how his unwillingness to deal with this sends the wrong message to our kids. He simply refuses or conveniently “forgets.” When I asked him why, he said his mother traumatized him about it as a child.
My children are starting to take notice now. My daughter doesn’t want to go near him, and my son thinks it’s OK to not brush his teeth because his father doesn’t. As you can see, this is disrupting our family. What kind of advice could I give him to get him to start taking care of his mouth? — Wit’s End in Florida
A: That your son is modeling his behavior after his father is terrible. There are psychologists who help patients overcome phobias and dentists who specialize in patients with your husband’s problem. If necessary, dental work can be done under complete sedation.
If your husband would be willing to listen to your family doctor or the children’s pediatrician, perhaps one of them can get through to him the importance of conquering his fear before it causes lasting damage to the next generation.
Q: I recently began a relationship with a wonderful man I’ll call “Edward.” He’s smart, successful, sweet and has a wonderful sense of humor. I adore him and can see myself spending many happy years, if not forever, with him.
The problem is my parents. I’m 24 and a recent college graduate. I have a good job and have been living independently since I was 19. Edward is 31, divorced and has two kids (ages 5 and 8). Because of his kids and marital status, my parents refuse to even meet him. They claim I’m making a terrible mistake being involved with someone with so much “baggage.”
I am very close to my parents, and their reaction is hurtful. This is the happiest I have been in a long time in a relationship, maybe ever. Neither Edward’s kids nor the fact that he’s divorced is an issue for me. I’ve met his children and enjoy spending time with them. He has a civil relationship with his ex-wife, who also has a new partner.
Do you think my parents’ reaction is fair? Do you think in time they’ll come around? — Bittersweet in Love in Michigan
A: Whether your parents’ reaction is fair or not is beside the point. Their feelings are their feelings. The relationship you have with Edward is new, and where it may lead is anybody’s guess. If it lasts, your parents may come around. But as an adult, the choice of whom you date or will one day marry should be yours and no one else’s.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.