Dear Amy: My 28-year-old daughter has been in a relationship for over a year with a lovely single father, “Randall.”
Randall is everything I ever wanted for my kind, intelligent, beautiful daughter. He is thoughtful, polite, intelligent, has a good job, and — most importantly — is a patient and remarkable parent.
I am 59 and have rarely seen a father display such common sense and loving, patient parenting skills toward his young, kindergarten-aged child. I’ve never seen my daughter so happy or so well-matched with a partner.
One concern surfaces: My daughter confided to me that Randall has never said, “I love you.” She says it to him and his son (who tells her, “I love you, too”) but Randall doesn’t say it back. He has told her that he would rather show her how he feels, than say words with no meaning.
She said he frequently tells his son he loves him, so it’s not that he’s adverse to the phrase. His relationship with his past partner ended very badly, (hence his sole custody of their child), and I don’t believe he is close to either of his parents, who also divorced when he was young.
Randall treats our daughter beautifully and is extremely kind to us.
My advice to her has been to be patient and not push him, but as the days and weeks roll by, I worry that I’ve advised her poorly. What do you think?
— Hoping for Happily Ever After
Dear Hoping: My instincts and advice are around the same as yours, but I differ in that I don’t see a couple exploring this “I love you” issue as a confrontation (or “pushing”), but a conversation. She should not demand that he say, “I love you,” but ask why he believes those words have no meaning. And she should ask herself: “If he never verbally tells me he loves me, would I want to stay in this relationship? Am I so focused on this that I’m missing other nonverbal “I love you” statements he is making?”
“Randall” sounds like a really nice guy who has been through a lot. A counselor could help these two to talk about this specific topic, and in doing so, they could each learn new ways to communicate and to read each other’s cues, both verbal and nonverbal.
You are a concerned and involved mother. But it’s OK to say, “I don’t know what you should do; I only know what I would do. And I would try to be very patient.”
Dear Amy: On behalf of myself and everyone at the Center for American War Letters (www.warletters.us) at Chapman University, I cannot thank you enough for bringing attention to our efforts to encourage people to seek out and share with us war letters from every conflict in America’s history.
After your column ran, we were inundated with queries from your incredible readers wanting to send us war-related correspondences, and the responses are still pouring in.
Our mission is to humanize our nation’s troops, veterans, and their loved ones, and the letters (and now emails) these individuals have written in times of war remind us all that their sacrifices extend beyond the battlefield.
It’s not just the risk of getting killed or wounded, but not being there for birthdays and anniversaries and other important moments back home.
And, when troops do return, it’s often living with traumatic memories that are seared into their minds.
We also are receiving war letters and emails that remind us of the best of human nature: messages of courage, resilience, compassion, and even hope. Again, thank you so much for helping us to preserve the stories and voices of our extraordinary servicemembers and their families.
— Andrew Carroll
Dear Andrew: As we approach Veterans Day, it’s a great time to recall and celebrate the sacrifice made by servicemembers and their families. Readers with letters and emails sent home from family members in the military can check your website for instructions on how to donate these missives.
Your appreciation is truly beautiful, and I thank you for this important work.
Dear Amy: I was not satisfied, at all, by your answer to “Anxious Wife,” whose husband drove dangerously fast. Instead of offering up so many statistics, why didn’t you just tell him to stop?!
Dear Upset: “Anxious” reported that her husband was currently driving slower, but pouting about it. I wanted to affirm her stance by offering facts, but I agree with you (and others): he needs to stop it!
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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