Dear Annie: My older brother and I are both in our mid-30s and have not gotten along for 20 years. He has been verbally, psychologically and at times physically abusive toward me. He has a ferocious temper, and if I say anything he doesn’t like, he lambastes me.
I try to avoid him, but since the birth of my nephew (the cutest baby ever), that is not always possible. I like his wife and adore my nephew. Before a visit, I have trouble sleeping at night. I feel anxious and dread the hours passing in anticipation. When I get there, I try to stay silent and enjoy the baby, not doing anything that might make him lash out.
I wish there was a way to heal my relationship with my brother. He doesn’t believe he’s done anything hurtful and thinks I should just “get over it.” I wish I could. Is there something I could do?
-- Little Sister in Need
Dear Little Sister: Can you create a tougher skin? You need to stop taking your brother’s anger personally. His comments have nothing to do with your intelligence, your personality or your opinion on any subject. It’s about his need to be in control of every situation, and at the bottom of that need is fear.
Empower yourself. Learn to smile indulgently and ignore him or say calmly, “I guess we simply disagree.” If you can create a different dynamic by refusing to be your brother’s favorite target, your entire relationship could evolve. Enlist his wife’s help to keep visits pleasant. Whenever possible, see your nephew when your brother isn’t around. And they may both love it if you offer to take the baby for an hour or so. Win-win.
Dear Annie: I know you have heard this before, but please tell major retailers to stock good-looking clothes for women size 3X and larger — not those horrid blouses with prints that look like they came from my grandmother’s closet.
I would love to buy a top that has sleeves that fit and a neckline that’s not trying to be sexy and to have choices in enough styles that I don’t have to buy four of the same item in different colors. We have money to spend on nice clothes if they were offered.
Stores manage to sell affordable clothes for skinny girls, so how about the rest of us? And please don’t tell us to go to specialty stores. I would like to find clothes in my size in any store. Wake up, corporate America! Americans are getting bigger. You can make lots of money if you offer decent clothes for big women.
-- I Need Nice Clothes, Too
Dear Need: Actually, there are more stores carrying larger sizes than ever before. And the selections range from inexpensive to pricey. There also are multiple places online to find larger sizes. There may not yet be the same variety of styles and selections as there are for smaller sizes, but it’s much more inclusive than it used to be. The market will go where the money is. It just takes time.
Dear Annie: I sympathize with “Regrets in Paradise,” the 57-year-old woman who is in an unhappy marriage to a 61-year-old man. She discovered after they married that he isn’t the same guy and simply wants her to take care of him.
I am a 75-year-old widow of six years. I have observed that most men my age are interested in women 20 years younger. I think they are looking for a “nurse with a purse,” and I am better off as I am. For more than 50 years, I waited on my husband and took care of him through his last illness. He was the father of my two children, and I would have done anything for him, but I have no intention of going through that again.
-- Better Off Single
Contact the writer: email@example.com