Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear Maxy ,
What do you do with a sibling who has been enabled all of his life when mom is no longer around to provide for him ?

My brother has had a house to live in , a car to drive , insurance , etc. for the past 25 years . He is an alcoholic and a drug user . He doesn't work because he doesn't want to . He has an all-expenses-paid life .

When my mother dies , how do we settle the estate ? If the house is given to my brother , he would lose it because he has no concept of paying bills . My sister thinks we should sell the place , give my brother his share and move on .
Help Me

Dear Help Me ,
It's difficult to make plans in advance if you don't know whether your mother has a will that leaves the house to your brother , in which case , he is free to let it collapse into ruin .

You should consider all the possibilities , including how much responsibility you will take for your brother when the gravy train stops . Unless he gets help for his addictions , his behavior is unlikely to change . Are you comfortable throwing him out of the house ? You can't force your mother to settle these questions , although please urge her to see a lawyer .

Dear Maxy ,
I live far away from my family , but still try to keep in touch . The problem is my sister "Diane," who always misinterprets what I say .

Last month for example , we were talking about Dr. Oz when I commented that we'd have to wait 20 years to see whether some of those suggestions work . That night , Diane told my brother that I said I wouldn't care if she died . I tried to call , email and text to smooth things over , but she wouldn't answer . My mom doesn't want us to fight . I had no idea we were fighting until my brother told me .

A week later , Diane allowed me to apologize , and things were fine , but it has happened again . I suggested that we limit our Thanksgiving guests to the immediate family (24) people . Again , I got a call from my brother saying Diane thinks I hate her in-laws . I tried to contact her to explain , but she is ignoring me ..

I am tired of being the bad guy . I can't help that she interprets my comments in the worst possible way . How can I end the cycle .
Not a Meanie

Dear Not ,
Diane sounds as if she is hypersansitive and looking for excuses to be upset with you . One of the reasons she doesn't tell you directly is because she is mulling it over , and it's much more effective if she waits and then tells your brother her own version . Then she punishes you by staying out of contact until you are groveling . She has her technique down cold , and you fall for it every time .

If you think you can discuss this with her rationally , then do so . Otherwise , keep conversations short and neutral . If she becomes upset , send a sweet email saying you are sorry she is unhappy . Then leave it alone .

Dear Maxy ,
I have been married to the love of my life for 30 years . About 10 years ago , we moved to be closer to friends and family . It seemed to coincide with early menopause for my wife , which brought with it zero desire for intimacy . My wife asked me whether I thought it was OK to not have sex any longer , and being an acquiescent idiot , I said "fine."

Now I'm frustrated and wondering what the future holds . I am in my mid-60s , and my wife is in her early 50s . Do I go the rest of my life without ? I need the other person to have some passion for me , or it's not worth having .
Lost and Needy

Dear Lost , You need to revisit this issue . No matter what you agreed to at the time , you have become increasingly resentful , and your wife deserves to know . This effects your marriage in a critical way . Unfortunately your wife may not agree to more intimacy , and even if she does , you may not get the passion you desire . Ask if she would be willing to talk to her doctor about it , and then please seek counselling .

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