Dear Abby • I have two younger sisters — “Mara” and “Talia.” We grew up very close, thick as thieves. However, as adults, my relationship with Mara has gone from strained to nonexistent, especially as I’ve grown closer to my youngest sister, Talia.
Mara gave birth to her first child five years ago, and since then, she has cut everyone out of her life, including our heartbroken parents. I was able to stay in contact with her, but she would accuse me of not wanting to see her because I couldn’t make time in my schedule to see her kids. (I am a full-time student and have a full-time job.) Bear in mind that Mara has made no effort to meet my schedule, either.
She finally cut all ties with me after Talia and I got matching tattoos centered around video games — a subject Mara has no interest in. She was upset that we didn’t invite her to get one too, but we didn’t think she would want a permanent inking of something she had shown distaste for in the past. We invited her to get sister tattoos when she said she was hurt. She said she didn’t have time because of her kids, and hasn’t spoken to me since.
I feel like nothing I do will make her happy. Am I better off not having her in my life? Or should I try to make amends? — Sister Stress in Utah
Dear Sister Stress • You have done nothing for which to make amends. It appears you have one high-maintenance sister who looks for grievances and hangs on to them as though they are precious treasures. I suspect you are correct in thinking nothing you do will make her happy, at least at this point, and — since you asked — you may be better off without her making you miserable. I am sorry for your parents and for you and Talia, but sometimes it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.
Dear Abby • Our wonderful daughter married her college sweetheart two years ago. We paid for the wedding. I have been noticing that everything he does is for his benefit. When he comes to our house, he plops down on the couch with his cellphone in hand until the food is ready. As soon as the food is on the table, his hands are ready to serve himself. Once meals are finished, he runs straight back to the couch. He looks into our fridge before anything is offered because he’s hungry. When we go out for food, he leaves the table when the check arrives. (Always!) My wife gets mad if I mention “your turn” for the check.
They both have good jobs, pay a mortgage and splurge if they go out themselves. When we go out together, he orders the most expensive items on the menu. When they invite us, we pay. I’m tempted not to go out with them again. Am I stingy because I feel resentment? — Feeling Used in Illinois
Dear Feeling Used • I don’t think so. Not only are you not stingy, you have been more generous than many fathers-in-law would have been. This unfortunate situation might be effectively handled if your wife has a “woman-to-woman” chat with your daughter about her husband’s boorish behavior. However, if that doesn’t solve the problem, you may have to tolerate the moocher she married, warts and all. A final thought: The next time they invite you out, forget your credit cards on purpose.
Dear Abby • I am 60 years old and married. Every time we see my wife’s family, her parents pressure me to buy a car. (Our old one got totaled.) We don’t leave the house often except for exercise, and our daughter delivers our groceries to us.
Because I got sick of the nagging, I purchased a 9-year-old vehicle. When I brought it home, my wife began griping incessantly about my choice. She didn’t like it and wanted to return it, so I did.
The next time we saw her parents, we told them we didn’t need a car and we’re happy without one. It made her parents very upset. Every time we have seen them since, they continue to pester me about it. What should I do about this infuriating situation? — No Car in Alabama
Dear No Car • Understand that your in-laws probably mean well, but do not allow yourself to be dragged into an argument about your decision. Tell them you do not wish to discuss it further and, if they persist, see them less often — much less often.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.