From Ask Lutz


Dear Lutz:

I need help. My kids moved away and I have been married to the same guy for 39 years. What should I do?


Stupid in Cheviot


Dear Stupid,

First off, anyone smart enough to write to me, cannot be called stupid. So I must insist on changing your name, at least for purposes of this column. Logic has told me that you are female and I happen to like the name Eloise, so that’s what I’ll call you. Please don’t write back to me and tell me that you want a different name, because I only plan on using it this once. If you write again with an entirely new problem and choose a completely different name, then I’ll go with that one. But it is my column and I reserve the right to change names when I feel like it. With that said, let’s get to your problem, Eloise.

It is not clear to me that there is a problem. You say you’ve been married to the same guy for 39 years. I say well done. But you said, “I need help.” That would indicate to me that you need help. And me, I’m all about help, so I would be remiss in my duties if I were to ignore your cries for assistance. I see two potential problems here: your children moving away and your rather lengthy marriage. I’m assuming you would like your kids to move home. Have you considered offering them a substantial amount of money? One of the many great lessons I’ve learned in life is that everyone has a price. You could also proffer large gifts, such as condominiums or automobiles. But like any sizeable purchase, I must insist you thoroughly research your price options. It's so easy to get ripped off these days.

Unfortunately one of the drawbacks of solid parenting is that you raise children who grow up to be self-sufficient and get good jobs that prevent them from skipping town at a moment’s notice. The sad fact is that if you raised a slacker (and believe me: nothing against the slackers), a free plane trip and a few square meals might provide the only lure you need. So if you can’t seem to bring your kids back, or you lack the funds to do so, at least you can feel the satisfaction of a job well done.

As for the husband of 39 years: That is a long time. Having never been married, I cannot call myself an expert on the subject. But I’m always up for finding positive takes on a difficult or not so difficult situation. I did a bit of research to find out what kind of wedding anniversary gifts might be in your future. If you can handle another year of marriage, your husband has to get you a ruby. Number 41 will bring you land; No. 42 improved real estate; for your 43rd anniversary, you will travel the world. Although you might want to skip out before No. 44, because all you’ll get that year are groceries. No. 45 might make up for it with that sapphire you’re supposed to receive. But you better enjoy that sapphire, because in the four years after that, all you’ll get is an original poetry tribute (sounds potentially unpleasant), some paperbacks, a pair of sunglasses and maybe a radio. However, if you hang on for 50 years, it’s pay dirt. Traditionally, gold is compulsory, but I know for a fact—although I can’t find a website link that supports this information—that for your 50th anniversary, above referenced children will be obligated to fly into town and throw you and your husband a big, expensive anniversary bash.

I have often heard that marriage can be difficult, but if you’ve already invested 39 years, why not stick around another 11 and win the bingo game? Who cares if you like jewelry or not? You can always hock your valuables to fund the bribes you offer to your children. And in case you’re curious, after anniversary No. 55, it’s diamond city.

Eloise, I hope I have been some help to you. If you or anyone else takes issue with my wedding anniversary gift list, please take it up with the librarians at the Chicago Public Library.

Best Wishes,


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