Q: Our grandson is 36 years old and has been divorced for a little under five years. He has full custody of his two young children. After dealing with the divorce, he recently got back into the dating scene and found a woman about eight months ago.
Now he's thinking about proposing and wants to know his family's opinion. But we've only met her twice and we barely know her.
How should we answer?
A: Before he rushes to the altar, encourage him to take his time. He is doubtlessly lonely and stressed, as raising children as a single parent is difficult. However, making a hasty decision could be disastrous if he doesn't think it through.
It's good that he is being thoughtful about the idea, especially since he has already divorced. To that end, remind him of several questions he should discuss and think through beforehand: Do they have similar goals and values? Has she been married and had children already? How do his children feel about their relationship?
On a logistical level, there are some other decisions he will need to think about: Do they feel prepared to live together? Where would they live? Would she plan to work or stay at home with the children? Does he have assets that he would want to manage under a prenuptial agreement? Do either of them have outstanding debt or liabilities?
These are the types of questions they need to discuss and agree on before thinking about committing to marriage. And even if they are on the same page, he will need to prioritize his children and ensure that they feel happy and secure.
In reality, most marriages are a crapshoot in many ways. We all seek the joys of love, intimacy, happiness and familial harmony. The choice to bond himself to a new partner is one that only he can make. But you can help him realize what he wants and needs with your advice.
The keys to a successful long-term relationship are communication, honesty and compromise. — Doug
Q: Over the years, I have been lucky to experience many adventures all over the world. I've kept a chronicle of holidays, travels and family events.
Looking at my stuffed boxes of photos, my children are telling me I should get rid of some of them. I think that this would be a huge mistake. Future generations will be able to look at my collection and feel connected to the past.
Do you think I'm right?
A: Especially for seniors, photographs have huge importance and represent a sort of security of being able to remember. These tangible referents to our memories make it easier to hold on to our experiences. Even when we don't remember events, these mementos help us remind ourselves of the past.
Ask yourself how often you want to look at these photos. If you're willing to go through all of your memories and reminisce, it might make sense to keep all of them.
But most of us don't really want to go to the effort. Looking through our photos, only a few of them provoke strong, sentimental feelings.
You don't need to get rid of all your photos, but it might be time to sort through them. You don't need quite so many.
It's well worth it to keep pictures that you want to frame or pictures involving extremely dear memories. Have a family member help you digitize the rest — you will have a record while saving the space and preserving the image.
When shoved in a box, photographs can be damaged by spiders, humidity and other factors. It's also hard to find the ones you want when you want.
Additionally, you should consider who will inherit your collection. When you pare down the number, it will be easier to care for them.
Go through your photos with a family member and decide what is truly worth keeping. By doing this together, you can share the experiences behind your pictures. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.