Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 8:00 pm
Dear Annie: My wife’s sister and her husband moved in with my mother-in-law 30 years ago. Mom was the sole caregiver until age limited her ability, and then government aid allowed for home assistance. Mom supported them while my brother-in-law spent every dime on alcohol and toys. When Mom died two years ago, my sister-in-law ended up in a nursing home. My brother-in-law is in bankruptcy and has done nothing to plan for his wife’s needs.
My wife owns the house, although there is a lien on it from the state because of the aid my sister-in-law received. My wife and I cannot manage the responsibility or expense of maintaining the home, and we’d like to sell it and pay back the state.
Four months ago, we informed my brother-in-law that we will be putting it up for sale. But he has not moved out. In fact, he says his lawyer told him he can drag it out for a year.
As bad as my brother-in-law is, I still feel some compassion for him, although I do not feel we are responsible for him. His bad decisions and inability to plan are his own fault. I have held onto the letter informing him to vacate the house. I need help with licking the stamp so we can move on. — C.
Dear C.: You can hire a lawyer to have your brother-in-law evicted more quickly, but it sounds as if you are reluctant to do that. However, unless you are willing to let him stay indefinitely, you both are only postponing the inevitable. Talk to your brother-in-law calmly, and find out what his future plans are. Ask how you can help him move into more manageable accommodations. Suggest he contact AA (aa.org). Do as much as you can to ease your conscience, but understand that there is only so much you can do if your brother-in-law is unwilling to help himself.
Dear Annie: I’d like to see my children wait until marriage before having sex, but I realize that probably will not happen. I want to be able to advise my children correctly, so here are my questions: What is the age of consent? And if two 15-year-olds are intimate and caught, are both punished the same?
Under the current system, a 17-year-old boy could have consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend and go to jail. The boy is branded for life as a sex offender. I think these laws are outdated and need to be modified. — Ellen in Florida
Dear Ellen: The age of consent varies by state and falls somewhere between 16 and 18. You can find this information on the Internet simply by typing “age of consent by state” into your search engine. The punishment also varies by state and depends on the age of the older partner, the age of the younger partner, the number of years between them, etc. The underage partner is not punished, and if both kids are 15, neither is punished unless there was coercion.
These laws were intended to protect children from predatory adults, although we agree that a distinction should be made for teenagers who have consensual sex with their boyfriends and girlfriends. Until then, however, please be sure your children understand the risks and urge them to be careful.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Sad Wife” resonated with me. For years, my husband could not hold a decent job.
I realized, after he was fired from his last job, that I didn’t believe in him. When he asked me, with tears in his eyes, whether I would divorce him, I decided to have complete faith. From that point forward, I truly believed he would be successful. I stayed positive, encouraging and kept him motivated. Within months, he had two amazing job offers.
Now he has a great career, and our relationship is stronger than ever. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right. — Proud Wife
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 9.12.12