Posted: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: Today we received a wedding invitation that we were not looking forward to. You see, my husband’s brother is getting married, and we don’t know how to respond.
This brother left his wife and daughter last year after 24 years of marriage. He was having an affair with his bride-to-be and left his family in chaos. He has made no effort to see his daughter. His only interest is that his ex-wife sells the house so he can get his half of the money.
We have not forsaken our sister-in-law and niece. We helped them as much as possible so they could get back on their feet and heal from this startling event and the subsequent divorce. They have moved to another area and are starting over. We love them and want to remain a part of their lives.
We don’t see the brother much, probably twice in the past year. The divorce was finalized a few days ago, and the wedding is in three weeks. Do we go and say nothing? Do we congratulate him, even though we feel he has done a horrible thing to his first wife and daughter?
We do love this brother and want to stay close, but we don’t like being put in such an awkward position. How do we respond in order to maintain family relations and still live with our conscience? — Upset in Ohio
Dear Ohio: If you want to maintain a relationship with your brother-in-law, you must attend his wedding and be nice to his new bride. She will have some control over which relatives he stays in touch with. But we suggest you keep your congratulations subdued and leave as early as it is polite to do so.
Dear Annie: My husband became ill at the age of 27 and was sick for 22 years. I took care of him and raised our two sons, now 25 and 26. He said that after he died, he hoped I’d find someone else to love.
He died in January. In June, I met an amazing man. “Robert” is a great support for my boys and me. The problem? My two older sisters have never met him, yet they say Robert is bad for me and that I’m neglecting my adult children in their time of need. They insist I stopped grieving too soon.
My sisters criticized me when I struggled to take care of my husband and never offered to help, saying I would become too dependent on them. They tell me to sell my home and move into a smaller apartment. My sons will no longer give them any information about my activities, and my sisters interpret that to mean my boys are depressed and have shut down, and it’s my fault.
My sons approve of Robert and are angry with their aunts. My friends say I should cut them out of my life, but I don’t want to. How do I make them stop saying such hurtful things without ruining family relations? — Baby Sister
Dear Sister: Your sisters are trying to control your life, but you are not obligated to obey. Ignore their advice. If they are hurtful, reply, “Sorry you feel that way.” They’ll eventually get the message that you won’t be pushed around.
Dear Annie: A solution for those who receive wedding gifts they don’t want is to donate them, unopened and in their original boxes, to their favorite charity for an auction. Most charities hold annual auctions as fundraisers. You can put the gift in a basket and throw in some candles, wine or other related items. Such donations usually fetch more than the retail value. Win-win. — A.A., Louisville, Ky.
Dear A.A.: Thank you for the lovely suggestion — although wrapped wedding gifts should be opened in order to check for personal notes that may be tucked inside.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar,. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.
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Published in The Messenger 8.17.10