DEAR ABBY: I'm dating my grammar school and high school sweetheart, "Gary." We've known each other since I was 6. (I'm 33 now.) In high school we dated for nine months and were in love, but he told lies to my dad, so Dad ordered him to stay away. Now, 16 years later, after being only friends all this time, we finally both became single and got back together.
Gary is and always has been the love of my life, as I am his. He would do anything for me. He says he wants to marry me and have kids, and he's never said that to any other woman.
Since we broke up at 16, Gary has done some bad things (drugs, prison). Because of it, my dad hates him. Dad was finally getting used to Gary being back in my life until a few months ago, when Gary crashed my car after relapsing. Gary is getting me a new car and trying to get my dad to like him, but Dad is stubborn. I know he's just worried about me.
I want to bring Gary to my parents' to visit because enough time has gone by since the accident. Is there any way to get my dad used to him? -- TORN IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR TORN: I think the chances of your father "getting used" to his beloved daughter being married to a convicted felon and drug user who can't quite kick the habit are somewhere between a snowflake and hell. Gary may have been the love of your life since childhood, but if you plan to marry him, it's important you get a glimpse of what you may be in for.
There are self-help groups for the friends and family of addicts. Join one of them. (Visit Nar-Anon.org to find the nearest meeting.) If you do, you will meet other individuals who are involved with people who have a drug addiction and learn about the challenges that will face both of you.