Dear Annie: My wife and I have just celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. Two years ago, she decided to become a vegan for moral and dietary reasons. I respect her greatly for that, though I didn’t love constantly hearing about it. I have also adopted many of the same eating habits, but I do still eat meat. We have both learned to prepare very nice vegan dishes that the other enjoys. Lately, however, she has decided to adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet, she also has decided to use a lot of spices in her foods that I cannot eat. For the past two years, I have not cooked meat in our house nor have I fired up my barbecue out of respect for her. Now, I find myself wanting to again cook dishes for myself that I feel are healthy but that include lean meats: chicken fajitas, turkey chili, etc… Do I have the right to cook in my house and if so, how do I approach the subject with her in a way that she doesn’t “flip out”? — Omnivore Husband in Oregon
Dear Omnivore: Your wife wouldn’t appreciate it if you told her how to eat. She should respect your right to decide what you’d like to eat, too. However, I have a feeling that you may want to take a leaf from her book once you see the effects of a whole-food, plant-based diet. It’s one of the healthiest ways to eat and has been shown to be effective against many common chronic diseases, including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. (Check out “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., and “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., for more information.) So, keep an open mind.
Dear Annie: I am going through a really hard time right now. My husband is dying with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the pancreas. His doctor told me that it’s getting to be time to call in our family. I’m with him 24/7. We have been married for 23 years and have three wonderful children together ages 17 through 21. My husband asked me to tell the hospital that he doesn’t want anyone in the room with him except for me, our kids and three other family members. This doesn’t include any immediate members of his family of origin, and they are blaming me for this. I am doing what my husband asks. His family has not been around us at all this whole time that he has been sick, and now they are wanting to act like they really care. Don’t get me wrong; I really do love my in-laws, but how do I honor my husband’s wishes while not hurting his family? I’m the one with him day and night, never even once leaving the room from him. I don’t want to hurt anyone! — Wife in the Middle
Dear Wife in the Middle: I am so sorry that your husband is dying.
There are no good options here, but the best option available is to honor his wishes, just as you’ve been doing. These are his final days, and he deserves agency over how he spends them. If he can comfortably speak, you might try gently encouraging him one last time to consider seeing his family members, if for no other reason than to say his piece to them. But if he reaffirms his stance (or is incapable of doing so), let these relatives know it’s out of your hands. Then set aside their anger, and focus on your husband, you and what you need during this excruciatingly painful time.
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