Dear Annie: My husband and I are the youngest of our siblings, now all in our 50s with nearly grown children. Despite having the same opportunities, my husband and I are the only ones to have finished college, stayed married and kept the same jobs. As a result, we have a nice home, two cars and college tuition set aside for our kids, and can take family vacations.
Our three siblings dropped out of college, racked up credit card debt, married and divorced multiple times, compromised their health with alcohol and tobacco abuse, and left jobs as soon as the work became tiresome. They live in tenuous circumstances. We never judge or lecture.
Lately, as the direness of their situation has pressed them into tough decisions, they keep bringing up how “lucky” my husband and I are to have all the security that we do, as if we didn’t earn it or make sacrifices over many years. While we are indeed blessed, luck had little to do with it. We’ve been disciplined.
We have generously helped our siblings whenever the need arose. Now it seems they believe it was our duty, and with the holidays coming up, their comments are escalating. This is terribly hurtful.
My husband is able to let this matter slide. But I need a civil response when our siblings accuse us of “owing” them because our circumstances are so much “luckier” than theirs. I want to show my kids that I am proud of what we have earned and saved without sounding unsympathetic.
Sad Sister in Sacramento
Dear Sister: People can become embittered by their lot in life and look to place blame on others when they cannot face up to their own responsibility in creating the situation. Your children can see the results of this every day, so there’s no need to get into a public argument with your siblings. Instead, simply say, “We’ve been fortunate” — because that is also true. And it shuts down the discussion.
Dear Annie: For the past two years, I have been in a relationship with the lady I thought would one day be my wife. I have pampered and spoiled her, even when she occasionally would take weeks at a time to be alone or visit her family without me for holidays. She refused to move in with me, though I asked her to several times.
When she was laid off three months ago, she decided to move to the city where her daughter lives, six hours away. She claims she wants to be in a long-distance relationship.
Am I wrong to consider her actions selfish? She claims she is “in love” with me, but I don’t believe someone can be in love and move six hours away.
Heartbroken in Nebraska
Dear Nebraska: It is not surprising that your girlfriend wants to live closer to her daughter, especially with no job to tether her. But based on her past behavior, we’d say she doesn’t value the relationship as much as you do. Unless you are both willing to travel frequently, this romance is likely to fizzle. Sorry.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “J.D.,” whose parents have gone through the money he received as a settlement. You suggested he contact a lawyer. He also could contact his state public welfare department and request an Adult Protective Services investigation. It sounds like a case of financial exploitation, and the government might take his parents to court and order that a new conservator be put in place. He might not even need a conservator now.
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