Dear Barb – Keeping Things Hidden

Dear Barb:

I have been involved in a serious relationship for five years. My fiancé and I mostly get along great. Our problems are related to communication issues. Michael is very quiet and rarely initiates conversation. He becomes very uncomfortable when I try to talk about his past relationships. Because of his reactions, I wonder if he is hiding something. Not sure if I should continue to press the issue or just let it go. If I do let it go, what if there is something in his past that I should know about, something that would change how I view Michael and our relationship, shouldn’t I know that? I would hate to marry him and then find out he has some deep dark secret. Am I over-reacting? Angela

Hi Angela:

I really think if your fiancé had a deep dark secret you would know it by now. Five years is a long time to hide something, but it is possible. The majority of men are not big on communication, especially when it comes to past relationships. A good book about the differences in the way men and women communicate is Men are like Waffles and Women are like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel. It is a bit heavy on the religious aspect, but it is a helpful book. Thanks for writing.

Dear Barb:

My mother is in her late seventies and recently I have noticed a change in her. For example, we had a lunch date last week and when I arrived at her home to pick her up she was still in her pajamas and had totally forgotten about our lunch. Also, mom has always knitted items for the family, but now she can’t even remember how to knit. Her behaviour is very disturbing to my brother and me. We have tried to discuss our feelings with her but she becomes angry and says we are just trying to put her away. I’m not sure what to do. I just want to get her to her doctor to find out what’s going on, but she refuses to go. I don’t want to ruin my relationship with her. Thanks. Laura.

Hi Laura:

Thanks for writing. Getting a loved one to go to the doctor when they don’t want to can be very challenging. The person probably senses there is something wrong but doesn’t want a confirmation from the doctor. Many of the symptoms you are describing can be attributed to conditions such as a vitamin B12 deficiency or an infection; it isn’t necessarily dementia or Alzheimer’s. Perhaps you could approach your mother from the angle that it is time for her to go for her yearly physical, just to make sure everything is okay. Have you discussed these symptoms with any other friends or family members? Have they noticed similar changes? If so, perhaps a close friend may be able to convince her to get checked out. If all attempts fail, try writing a letter, or sending an email to her family doctor outlining your concerns. As a result, her physician may contact your mother to come in for a regular check up. Depending on the physician’s finding, he may encourage your mother to go for further testing. Caring for our aging parents undoubtedly poses a challenge for everyone.

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