Dear Annie: My sister-in-law asked me to wipe her PC’s hard drive so she could donate it. In the process, I discovered an old suicide note she had written. It dates back five years, which was a time when I know she felt overwhelmed caring for a disabled friend. In the note, it says she felt terribly burdened by this unwanted responsibility.
My sister-in-law recently moved back home to take care of her father, who is aging but is otherwise in good health. I’m afraid she may get overwhelmed again. What should I do?
Help for My Brother’s Wife
Dear Wife: Any caregiver can feel overwhelmed, and you would not be breaking any confidences to offer assistance and support. Ask whether you could shop for groceries or pick up a prescription. If Dad is healthy enough to be left alone, take your sister-in-law out for coffee and conversation. If not, tell her you’ll sit with Dad for an hour so she can have a break. Talk to her often. And make sure she has the contact information for resources such as the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov) at 800-677-1116 and the National Family Caregivers Association (nfcacares.org).
Dear Annie: Next month would have been my fourth anniversary had I not moved out of the house I shared with husband, who is 12 years my junior.
“John” and I have been in a relationship for almost 10 years, and I thought I knew him. The problem started soon after our wedding, when I returned from an out-of-state trip and found pictures he had taken of himself — naked, graphic and posing suggestively with photos of other men. John said he was just curious about taking them and denies ever posting the pictures online. I thought we worked through it after many heartfelt discussions, but then six months ago, I caught him surfing gay porn on my computer, as well as watching it on TV.
He promised he would go to counseling, and I gave him one last chance, saying I would leave him if he lied to me about it again. In February, I ran a profile of the top five websites that he visits — and they were all porn. I also discovered that he has charged porn to his credit card.
That was the last straw. I rented a house, and he finally realized that I was serious. But he doesn’t understand why I want out of the relationship. He says it’s “just porn” and refuses counseling. I cannot make him see that it is not just the porn. It is the lying, hiding, withholding of affection, withdrawal from me and his daily pot smoking that led up to my leaving.
Annie, I am a pretty, petite, youthful woman with a great job. I provide John with a comfortable lifestyle, but I refuse to keep enabling him. Should I stay with him even though I will never trust or respect him again?
Suicidal and Angry
Dear Angry: Trust and respect are two rather important aspects of a healthy marriage. If counseling does not help you regain those elements, we don’t see a happy future for you. And it sounds as if excessive pornography isn’t your only problem with John. A man who “specializes” in homoerotic porn has other things on his mind: men, for instance.
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