Abby Advice: Wedding plans clouded by young man’s mental illness.

DEAR ABBY >> After three years together, my fiancé and I plan to be married next year. While we have the usual couples’ things going on, one concern is making me consider postponing the wedding or ending the engagement. My fiancé has a son whose mental illness led him to withdraw from high school at 16. He has done nothing since. He doesn’t work, and his father hasn’t gotten him treatment for his issues.

I made it clear at the beginning of our relationship that I have no desire for us to be lifelong caretakers to someone who refuses to help himself. He doesn’t want to tell his son to leave.  Nobody wants to take him in, and he constantly flips between wanting treatment and not wanting treatment. I told my fiancé he has until later this year to figure out what to do about this, or we will have to postpone the wedding. He said if we postpone now, what’s to stop me from postponing again in the future?

He mentioned that we should work through this as a couple and get married with this unresolved, if necessary. I told him this is an important issue that needs to be resolved before the wedding. I applaud him for being a single father and raising his son from such a young age. Please let me know your thoughts on the situation.

— Big Dilemma in Indiana

DEAR DILEMMA >> When a person marries into a family, they marry into its problems. (No family is without them.) If you don’t want to share the responsibility of his mentally ill son, you should not marry this man. Rather than make him choose between the two of you, assume the responsibility for making the decision.

If your fiancé doesn’t already know about The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), he should look into it. NAMI comprises families with the same problems he is facing, and it might help him to know what has worked for them. Its website is Should you decide to go through with the marriage, you should consider joining as well.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips.

Contact Dear Abby

P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069

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