Dear Annie: I live with my 55-year-old sister. “Toni” has always been a heavy drinker, but she’s recently moved on to pot and Vicodin. She has started hanging around with people half her age and is obsessed with being young.
Toni will not acknowledge that she has issues. She’s too busy telling everyone else what is wrong with them. I used to drink, too, but sobered up seven years ago. Toni resents this, referring to me as a “whack job.” To make things worse, her 28-year-old son moved in with us, and he is a drinker and is also addicted to video games.
Toni and I own this house jointly. I am in a tough financial bind right now and cannot move out. How should I handle this?
-- Sister in Southern California
Dear Sister: First, please make sure Toni understands that she cannot bring illegal substances into your home. You could all be held responsible. Beyond that, we urge you to ignore as much of Toni’s irresponsible behavior as you can manage. You cannot change her if she is unwilling, so it’s important that you look out for yourself.
Would Toni be interested in purchasing your half of the house? Could you work out an arrangement to purchase her half? Does it make fiscal sense to sell the house altogether? Consider ways to escape living with Toni, but otherwise, try not to let her behavioral issues become your problem. She is irritating and reckless, but you are not responsible for her choices.
Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 51 years. She was always on the voluptuous side, but now she is enormously fat. She absolutely refuses to discuss her weight.
Our adult children live in fear of ending up as heavy as their mother. I am 83 years old and keep my weight at 180. Her weight is the best kept secret in the country. Once a month, my wife has lunch with a group of equally large ladies, which probably doesn’t help. I have my own physical problems, and I’m tired. I worry about my wife’s health. Please help.
-- Married to the Blob
Dear Married: For some people, working on their weight is so overwhelming that they give up before they start. It also doesn’t help that your wife tends to hang around others who are equally large. Studies have indicated that overweight people who socialize primarily with other overweight people tend to see themselves as “normal” sized, which can lead to overeating and denying that there is anything wrong.
We know your wife’s weight affects you, but you cannot force her to address it. You could suggest a walk after dinner and some other mild physical activity on the weekends. And if you do any cooking or grocery shopping, see that the foods in your home are nutritious. Beyond that, you can only accept her as she is. After 51 years, we hope she has other qualities that make up for her size.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Devastated,” who intends to marry an African-American man, but her family refuses to accept him. She sounds like me 32 years ago. My mother never accepted my better half because he is black. But I chose him. This is for her:
Don’t kid yourself. It will be hard in the beginning. You may not get the wedding you want, but keep on pushing. If you aren’t invited to a family get-together, make a special day of it for the two of you. It will get easier. Always remember when you are planning something to invite your family. Let them keep making the decision of whether or not to come. In time, that will change. Unfortunately, my mother never accepted my husband or my biracial children. That broke my heart, but the rest of my family lifted me up. Keep strong.
-- Been There in Memphis
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