I Don't Want To Sacrifice My Freedom To Help Blind Friend—What Should I Do?

Dear Newsweek, My husband, who is in his late 60s, had a best friend in college about 45 years ago. His friend is a genuinely nice guy and we've always gotten along. We've only seen him about five or six times in all these years, as he lives several hours away. We've never gotten together for holidays or weddings and I doubt he could tell you the names of all our four kids, etc. But I do send him a card every Christmas. He has one brother, who is married, and no other living relatives.

This friend has started to go blind because of a progressive eye condition. He has started calling us lately and asking things like "Is your daughter still living at home or is she on her own now?" He always mentions that he's going blind and I feel like this is leading up to asking us to take him in.

I had my first child at 19. Our youngest just moved out four years ago, when I was 62. My husband just retired last year. I feel bad for my husband's friend but we are finally enjoying "being free," coming and going as we want, sleeping late, having a clean house, and I just love our new and carefree lifestyle.

blind friend
Stock image of a blind man, and an insert stock image of a couple arguing. Getty Images

I just finished chemo and radiation treatments this summer, which made me and my husband realize that we don't know how much time we have left on this Earth. We are getting older and want to live life to the fullest while we still can. We do know that his friend has someone who comes in to help, but other than that we do not know what other resources he has.

Are we jerks if we say no to his friend if (when) he asks? He mentioned during the last call that his brother just downsized to a smaller house, which leads me to believe he has asked his brother and his brother said no. Help!

Beverley, New York

Newsweek's "What Should I Do?" offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

Saying 'No' Makes Room for Better Solutions to Come

Zinah Scott is a certified health and life coach based in Tennessee.

Congratulations on your healing journey. Life is truly precious and you get to design the rest of it with your husband. Based on some of the comments you shared, it looks like you've already answered your own question.

However, I have a few questions for you to ponder as you make a decision. Let's say you let him move in. Will you resent your friend if it meant sacrificing your retirement and freedom? What regrets would you have? From what you have described, you have already sacrificed much. You are deserving of having the life you want to live with no apology.

Sometimes, we feel like "guilty jerks" when we say "no" to others who may need our support. We may even feel some responsibility. The word "no" is very powerful. It makes room for the best solutions to come. We have to give that best solution a fighting chance to save the day.

When we say "yes" to things that aren't meant for us, we could be pushing away something better. You see, not everything is for us. This is why it's so important to be completely honest with ourselves.

Have you considered saying "no" to your friend could open up doors of opportunities for him? If you decide to have your friend live with you, will that get you closer to living your freedom to the fullest? You have the answers. Trust yourself.

Be Direct and Put Your Health First

Denise Belisle is a certified mental fitness and functional medicine health coach based in Vancouver, Canada.

Dilemmas like this can be challenging as you want to balance your own needs with your sense of obligation and kindness towards others.

It's important to consider your own priorities, health and well-being first, especially after a challenging period with chemo and radiation treatments. It's understandable that you want to enjoy your newfound freedom and the time you have left.

At the same time, it's also important to be honest and direct with your husband's friend. Let him know that you are not in a position to take him in, but that you would be happy to offer any other support you can, such as connecting him with local resources or offering to assist with finding alternative options.

It may also be helpful to have a conversation with your husband about how you both feel and what support you are willing to offer. This can help ensure that you are on the same page and can handle the situation together.

It's also important to remember that sometimes saying "no" is an act of kindness, as it allows you to prioritize your own well-being and be honest about what you can and cannot offer.

Be sure to be honest and direct with your husband's friend, while also considering your own priorities and well-being. Balancing these factors can help you make the best decision for everyone involved.