When my family and I visit relatives out of state, we usually spend half the week with one of my cousins and the rest with another. One cousin, "Deborah," has a drinking problem.
Not only is it painful to watch her drink, but I noticed that her husband will hardly look at her or speak to her because he is so angry. They have a young son.
Perhaps this is selfish, but I don't intend to have our vacations subjected to that kind of stress. I love Deborah and don't want to hurt her feelings, but I can't stay there and expose my family to her drinking. My husband and kids understand that she has a problem and support me in not wanting to spend several days at her house.
Is there a way to tell her this gently? I believe my other cousin would be happy to have us for the entire week. I don't intend to stay away from Deborah completely; she's always been one of my best friends. What can I do?
STANDING FIRM IN GREEN BAY
DEAR STANDING FIRM:
Make other arrangements for lodging this year. And after they are made, have a talk with Deborah's husband and tell him why. Because you are so close to your cousin and you will be there, and because her husband's anger is obvious, it might be an opportune time for an intervention.
Of course, this should be done with the help of a professional who can help Deborah get the treatment she so obviously needs. Her husband should seek guidance from the people at Al-Anon or Alcoholics Anonymous. This will have to be done delicately, and they will know what to do. The websites are www.al-anonfamilygroups.org and www.aa.org
I have seen many letters in your column from men who are conflicted about being attracted to a person other than their spouse.
I handle it by calling it "art appreciation." In a museum you can't touch the art but only admire it from a distance. I, too, enjoy the "view" without getting too close. It has served me well because it allows me to fantasize without getting into trouble.
"MUSEUM-GOER" IN CAMPBELL, CALIF.
While this technique may work for you, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone because many wives pick up on those "art appreciation" vibes and feel disrespected or threatened when their husbands stare at other women. I remember that this subject has been raised at least once in the Bible. If King David hadn't spent so much time enjoying the view from his rooftop, Bathsheba's husband would have died a natural death.
What do you say if someone who is overweight says she's fat or asks you if she's fat? It's always such an awkward situation, and I usually end up saying, "Of course you're not fat!" I'd like to know if there's a better way of handling this. You always know what to say.
TONGUE-TIED IN FLORIDA
If someone who was obese stated that she (or he) was fat, I would either let the comment hang there in silence or I'd say, "What do you intend to do about it?" And if someone with a weight problem asked me if he or she was fat, instead of denying the obvious, I would respond, "What I think isn't nearly as important as what YOU think about that."
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.