Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My little sister (late 20’s) got married last year. Within months she found out her 30-year-old husband was cheating on her with a cashier at his job.
They tried to work things out, only for my sister to discover the affair was still going on and predated the wedding. She decided she was done, only now she was pregnant.
I decided to invite her to live with me and my family, which involved buying a new (and much more expensive) house.
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Now she has decided to try to work things out with her husband, and will probably break her promise of a several years’ stay in our home. I can afford the new mortgage without her financial contribution, but not without serious lifestyle changes.
How much information am I entitled to about the current status of her marriage? I try to ask in non-threatening, supportive ways, but typically get the response of, “You’re meddling.”
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
You need to make plans for your future, yes, so plan without her. It’s not incumbent on your sister to contribute to those plans, even if it feels otherwise: You made the decision, invited her to live with you, bought the bigger house, took on the extra expenses — so you made it for her, yes, out of kindness, but the bed is still yours to lie in. I’m sorry.
That means you aren’t any more entitled to information on the current status of her marriage than you would be if you weren’t counting on her for cash.
So make plans on the assumption that your sister will not be contributing, because that’s what would have served you best in the first place. It’s risky to place a long-term bet on short-term conditions. She was never a lock to stay.
The best part is, by banking on her absence, her continued presence — and her cash — can serve as a bonus, one you save for when your sister has sunnier days.
Hi, Carolyn: Yesterday I had a health scare and ended up in the ER for hours. My partner drove me there and picked me back up, but when we got back home, he said he was going out for a beer with his friends.
I was fine watching shows and resting, but I’m put out that he didn’t even ask if I wanted him to stay with me. I’m actually thinking of ending the relationship over this; if he had been in the ER, I would have been by his side that evening even if he thought he was fine. Am I overreacting?
I’ll admit my bias upfront: I had a similar experience early in a relationship. His vanishing when I was at my most vulnerable became a theme and eventually broke us up.
It’s why I’ve watched “The Wedding Singer” a number of times that approaches embarrassing.
So, do with these two points what you will.
You can also decide he’s simply not a good source of something you value – in itself, grounds to break up. Hope you’re on the mend.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.