Question: Dear Luise: My husband’s sister who is 50 is an alcoholic and a drug user. Has been for the 30 years we’ve been together. She was estranged from the family for approximately 19 or more years. I met my husband when we were only 13 and 15 and have been together ever since. I love him very much and I know he loves me. However, two years ago he went to Rhode Island with a U-haul and moved his sister in with us to start a new life. She was supposedly sober and needed a new beginning. I agreed to let her come and help her. A lot, went on but to try and make it brief after helping her with finding a job, cleaning up after her, cooking for her, and driving her to work back and forth everyday she ended drinking and smoking crack. She ended up in the VA rehab for a year here locally. Finally, a week ago moved into her own place with the VA assisting her, providing her with a job and very low rent. She is still going on drinking binges and who knows what else. She sent my granddaughter a check for her birthday that bounced and my husband will not say a word to her about it. That infuriates me, because she won’t answer my calls or emails. She doesn’t answer her phone for days, so my husband is constantly trying to call her, going to check on her. I think coddling her. And I feel she plays off of his good and kind heart. I have had it and just want him to let her be now from a distance. Give her some tough love, I guess. We cannot keep coddling her and making excuses for her, so I tell him. Anyway, now we constantly fight about the situation. I don’t even want her around anymore. My husband feels a family obligation because his parents won’t try and help her. Got any ideas? Thanks for allowing me to vent. I hope you have time to answer this. J.
Answer: Dear J. From my point of view, there’s no explaining that kind of loyalty. It often looks lopsided to me…as in, where is his loyalty to you and your peace of mind?
There is some kind of dynamic between a person who uses another and the person being used. They make each other feel important, I would suppose. Whatever it is, I couldn’t live around it for very long.
Don’t try to make sense of it. That’s pretty much a waste of time. And what can you do? It’s their “dance.” You’re the innocent bystander. Blessings, Luise