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    Annie's Mailbox

    Ask Amy column

    Q. My husband and I are in our mid-20s and are very successful professionals. We’ve enjoyed a happy marriage for the last three years, but we have spent much of that time apart due to my husband’s hectic travel with his job. In addition, at just 25, I am burned out with my own career and desperately want to do something different.

    We have saved a large sum of money and want to take a year off to travel and do some volunteering. We love to travel and would like to spend some uninterrupted time together. We will announce our plans to our families over the holidays and leave for our trip next summer.

    I know my parents are going to hate this idea, and I’m worried they will cut me out of their lives. My parents believe we should continue with our draining (yet well-paying) jobs and have children soon. I desperately want to live my life to the fullest. I feel that I need a break and some perspective before moving forward with the next chapter of my life.


    How can I convince my parents to be at peace with our decision?


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    A. Adulthood is awesome. You don’t have to worry about curfew, you can eat s’mores for dinner, and you don’t have to convince your mom and dad that you know what you’re doing, unless you’re asking them for money, which, of course, you are not.

    I think your idea sounds great, though I do wonder about your being so burned out at the ripe old age of 25. However, you don’t have to be burned out or fed up to come up with a new plan for the next year or so of your life. All you need is a workable scheme, the funds to pay for it, and the enthusiasm and idealism to carry it out.

    Enter this conversation realizing that it will be tough for your folks to climb on board the Awesome Express. You can respectfully say to them, “I know you love and care about me, but this feels right. I hope you’ll come to respect our choice, even if you don’t agree with it.”

    Q. I am a 65-year-old widower. My girlfriend cannot stand that I help my family and friends with little services and money. She thinks they are taking advantage of me, but my late wife and I have always been very generous helping friends and family.


    My girlfriend gets so angry about these “moochers” that it is affecting our relationship. She says she cannot see our relationship continuing under these circumstances and that she will eventually leave me.

    I want to save this relationship but find her demands unreasonable since all of the expenses are from my estate. I have suggested counseling, and she has agreed.

    What are your suggestions?


    A. Counseling is a great idea. Your girlfriend cannot enter your life and demand that you must change the way you conduct it. On the other hand, if you are actually surrounded by “moochers,” having this person’s perspective might help you to see a dynamic that is not healthy for you. If you have friends and family members who mooch off of you when they could or should provide for themselves, then your support and cash infusions will create a dependency.

    The fact that you and your late wife conducted yourselves a certain way doesn’t mean that you should be locked in to behaving this way forever. Don’t let your girlfriend’s ultimatums control you, but be open to her point of view.


    If you decide you don’t want to change, bid her goodbye.

    Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.