Q: I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend, “Allison,” for two years, but lately there have been frequent rough patches. I’m 18 and a college student. I love Allison, but the relationship is taking a toll on us physically and emotionally.
We have had to deal with separation ever since we got together. She’s the only one with a car and a “real” job. I work on campus in a work-study program in exchange for reduced tuition. I try to help Allison as much as I can to reduce the stress on her.
She has asked me to transfer schools, but I’d like to stay where I am because I feel I will have the ability to make something of myself. I have suggested that maybe we need to go our separate ways so she doesn’t have to pull the majority of the weight, but she gets upset and accuses me of not loving her. What should I do? — Stressed Student in Georgia
A: First let me suggest what NOT to do. Do not allow Allison to pressure you into changing schools. It is important that you complete your education, and there is no guarantee that the financial arrangement you have with this school can be replicated somewhere else.
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You and Allison are young, and long-distance relationships are often hard to maintain. That she is carrying the lion’s share of the load right now is unfortunate, but it won’t last forever. If she’s unwilling to accept that, then I agree that perhaps it’s time for the two of you to take a break.
Q: Years ago, I wrote to your mother about the many difficulties and stress of raising a very disabled son. Her advice gave me and my wife much needed encouragement. I keep her framed handwritten letter above my desk.
Our son passed away unexpectedly 17 months ago. Our family, neighbors and community gave us lots of support. Our son was loved by all. But for the past few months, it seems as if it is taboo for anyone to ask about how we are doing. Even if I mention our son in the context of a conversation, there is no follow-up.
I can understand people may be reluctant to open up a sorrow. However, I want to let them know it is OK to ask, “How are you doing?” I won’t hold them hostage to a long, maudlin discourse. It just would be nice if people would still acknowledge his life and that we all still miss him. — Always His Dad in Colorado
A: I am glad you wrote because you are not alone in having this heartache. As a general rule, people are uncomfortable bringing up the subject of death because they are afraid they will cause the person more sadness. Rarely is this true. People who have suffered a loss NEED to know their loved one hasn’t been forgotten. No one should be afraid to share a warm memory or ask how a grieving family member is doing. To show that kind of sensitivity is a generous gift.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.