DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend refuses to be intimate with me because he feels it would be unfaithful to his ex-wife. What can I do? — SAD IN OHIO
DEAR SAD: There is nothing you can do. Because you described him as having an “ex-wife,” I will assume your boyfriend is legally divorced. If the reason he gave you for the lack of intimacy is true, then he’s not only physically but emotionally unavailable, and you should move on.
DEAR ABBY: I married a wonderful, thoughtful man 30 years ago. His family accepted me and were very kind, with the exception of his mother. She hardly looked at or talked to me. If she did talk to me, it was about her being too young to be a grandmother (I had three children from a previous marriage; he had never married or had children). She also would regale me with stories about how my husband got in trouble during his youth (he was a good boy, in my opinion).
So now we come to the present. Our two children and I have been gossiped about, treated like servants when we are with her and demeaned when spoken to, and my mother-in-law constantly tries to talk alone with my husband. I’m sure she’s trying to split us apart. Her abuse has separated me from his extended family.
Recently, I told my husband I am no longer visiting her because it has caused too much anxiety and depression. He is not supporting me out of fear of what she might do to him. Please advise, Abby. — SICK OF IT IN VIRGINIA
DEAR SICK: Unless there is money involved, your husband may have been conditioned from childhood to fear his mother. It’s very sad. Maintain a relationship with your husband’s siblings if you can, but stand your ground when it comes to being forced to visit your MIL. I see no reason why you should be obligated to be in the company of anyone who is rude, demanding and abusive of you or your children.
DEAR ABBY: I have been struggling with my estrangement from my brother. He’s the only real family member I have. We were extremely close until three years ago. To my knowledge, I have done nothing wrong. He quit speaking to me after I bought some property he may have been interested in.
We are both in our mid-20s, and he has since gotten married and had two children. Being excluded from his life hurts me deeply. We have to work together daily, and it’s stressful having to encounter him because goes out of his way to be rude and put me down. Must I accept that this is how our relationship will be forever? — DEJECTED IN ILLINOIS
DEAR DEJECTED: If there is one life lesson I have learned, it is that interpersonal problems cannot be solved without communication. Because your brother’s chosen method of dealing with disappointment or conflict is to give the person the silent treatment, you will have to accept it and move on from there.
However, because his behavior extends into the workplace, discuss this with your employer. Your brother appears to be doing his best to create a hostile work environment, and that, my friend, is against the law.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.