Dear Annie: A year ago, I found out that my husband had been cheating on me at his brother’s house. He was having an affair with “Charlie’s” wife’s sister. My husband cheated more than 30 years ago with a friend of Charlie’s, and we divorced over it. We got back together two years later.
I have forgiven my husband for his most recent affair, and we renewed our wedding vows six months ago, but I cannot forgive his brother. Over the years, Charlie has tried his best to split us up. I no longer allow my husband to visit Charlie unless I am with him. Dealing with this relationship causes me severe headaches, and I’ve lost 50 pounds. My doctor says the stress is killing me.
I know Charlie will continue trying to break up my marriage. What should I do to stop this nightmare?
-- Brokenhearted in Indiana
Dear Brokenhearted: Charlie may have encouraged the cheating, but your husband had to cooperate. This is now your husband’s responsibility. He needs to tell his brother to knock it off, that he isn’t interested in having an affair, and that if Charlie tries to break up his marriage, the relationship is over. Charlie has to understand that there are consequences to interfering in your lives, but his brother is the one who must make it stick.
Dear Annie: We have a friend who asks for help almost every day with repairs, assistance with his computer, a ride (he never offers to pay for gas) and on and on. This man is 75 years old, doesn’t do much, lives alone and probably needs the companionship.
My husband is a kind man and would never say no. Please advise people to have some consideration for their neighbors and do things for themselves so they don’t intrude. My husband and I enjoy our time together, and too often, this “friend” stops by needing something.
-- No Private Time
Dear Private: The man is 75 and lives alone. Perhaps he is not capable of doing for himself those things he asks of you. And he seems lonely. We know that stopping by too often is a nuisance, but we’re going to ask you to think about this differently.
Welcome him as an act of kindness, instead of resenting the time he takes from you. Introduce him to others in your neighborhood so they, too, can keep him company. Set a few boundaries: It’s OK to tell him you are busy when he drops in unexpectedly, and to ask him to fill the tank once in a while, provided he can afford it. Schedule one day a week for him, letting him know you are available only on that day. If you and your husband stick to that schedule, he will eventually adapt, and you will feel less resentful.
Dear Annie: I had to write after reading the letter from “Joining the Letting Go Club,” whose adult children have cut them out of their lives.
I worked in a long-term care facility for 10 years. I’ve seen adult children drive up to the door, unload the parent and take off forever. I saw an adult son berate his mother until she signed a power of attorney. He then pillaged all of her assets and refused to spend any money on her care or provide documentation so she could qualify for Medicaid. One Christmas, a son and daughter-in-law came for their annual visit and brought gifts, but took them home because Mom was asleep. They said she wouldn’t know the difference.
Usually the parental rejection involves money. Sometimes, the kids know they are not in the will, or the parents refused to appoint one of them power of attorney. Sometimes, the parents have gifted their children so much that they have nothing left.
Your advice to this couple was solid. Enjoy each other, and fill your lives with people who expect nothing in return except friendship.
-- Know in New York