Q. I’m not writing for advice; I am writing for validation. I think I know in my heart what is moral and ethical, but I need a neutral, mature person to tell me whether I’m right or wrong. This is something I have not yet discussed with friends.
The situation is this: My husband has had Alzheimer’s for, we think, 12 years. He was being cared for at home with an aide until a year ago, when it became too much for me and he went into a care residence. He had by then stopped speaking, and his response to anything was a blank stare. He no longer knew who I was. For several months, I saw a counselor to come to terms with the loss of my husband as I had known him and my marriage.
Here is what I would like your opinion about: Do you think it proper for me to be in a romantic relationship with a widower? We have become very attached to each other, and I in no way feel like I am cheating. My husband is not (and cannot be) aware of what, I guess, is technically an infidelity. What do you think?
A. Sadly, yours is becoming an increasingly frequent question. I’ve dealt with this before and, in fact, have come to think of the issue as “Alzheimer’s Dating.” My position is yours. You are hurting no one. Your husband is in no way functioning as a spouse, and while his body is here, his mind is gone, and that, to me, is the essence of a human being. I have never believed in people sacrificing themselves on the altar of hopeless causes, as it were. You are well, you are living a life, and I hope you find companionship and joy with your close friend.
Q. This is out of sheer curiosity, no problem to be solved, but in this age of e-books, do you read bound books or use an electronic device? I am in a “mixed marriage.” My husband likes old-fashioned book-books, and I prefer the Kindle. I don’t know why he doesn’t want to get with the program, and he doesn’t know how I can enjoy a book that isn’t printed on paper and doesn’t have heft.
A. I wonder whether we’re married to the same man. Or maybe the issue actually does break down into men and women. (The few studies I’ve seen say more women read on e-book devices such as Kindle and Nook, while more men read on a tablet. I could find no mention of “book-books.”)
I love my Kindle for all the reasons you probably do. You can throw it in your purse (most men don’t have purses) and never be without something to read should you wind up in a line, riding a bus, or waiting for a friend. Taking a trip with 13 pounds of books does not interest me, and I can live without “heft.” I also find an e-reader encourages me to read more. (A good review and I’m there, in the instant gratification kind of way.) I did read a wonderful Letter to the Editor of The New York Times Book Review that I will share with you:
“Oliver Sachs does not want to read books on a Kindle, Nook, or iPad, since he might drop the device in the bath. Instead, he wants a large-print book that is ‘a real book made of paper’ with, apparently, the magical ability to stay dry when submerged. — Martin Flicker, Irvine, Calif.”