OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Wedding plans clouded by young man’s mental illness

Dear Abby: After three years together, my fiance and I plan to marry next year. While we have the usual couples’ things going on, one concern is making me consider postponing the wedding or ending the engagement. My fiance has a son whose mental illness led him to withdraw from high school at 16. He has done nothing since. He doesn’t work, and his father hasn’t gotten him treatment.

I made it clear at the beginning of our relationship that I have no desire for us to be lifelong caretakers to someone who refuses help. He doesn’t want to tell his son to leave. Nobody wants to take him in, and he constantly flips between wanting treatment and not wanting treatment. I told my fiance he has until later this year to figure it all out, or we will have to postpone the wedding. He said if we postpone now, what’s to stop me from postponing again?

He mentioned that we should work through this as a couple and get married with this unresolved, if necessary. I told him this is an important issue that needs to be resolved before the wedding. I applaud him for being a single father and raising his son from such a young age. — Big Dilemma In Indiana

Dear Dilemma: When a person marries into a family, they marry into its problems. If you don’t want to share the responsibility of his mentally ill son, you should not marry this man. Rather than make him choose between the two of you, assume the responsibility for making the decision.

If your fiance doesn’t already know about The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), he should look into it. NAMI comprises families with the same problems he is facing. Should you decide to go through with the marriage, you should consider joining as well.

Dear Abby: At what age do you stop holding hands on walks? I say never, but my boyfriend thinks we’re too old to be holding hands because it’s for teenagers. I’m 61 and he is 60. I have just started dating again, and I love holding his hand. I never had that during my two marriages.

I am white, and he is Black. He says it’s something Black folks don’t do. I’ve seen many couples of all ages and races holding hands. How do I convey to him that holding hands gives me comfort? — Affectionate In New York

Dear Affectionate: If you have told your boyfriend you need this and he responds by making excuses, then face it — he isn’t receptive. Is he also unwilling to hold hands in private? Holding hands is not uncommon in Black culture. Many African American couples of every age enjoy holding hands. Your boyfriend is either not affectionate or is reluctant to display public affection because you’re an interracial couple and he is concerned about unwanted attention.

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