Both or Neither

By Marcy Sugar

By Kathy Mitchell

June 15, 2017 4 min read

Dear Annie: A year ago, my sister, "Sheila," had an affair. She is now living with the Other Man. Sheila and her husband have a 23-year-old son who has been devastated by this.

My family believes the boyfriend is simply using Sheila for her money and to have someone around to help raise his teenage daughter. In addition, he seems very controlling. Needless to say, we all object to what my sister has done, but she is stubbornly standing by her decision.

I will soon be traveling cross-country to visit. I have requested that Sheila not bring the boyfriend to any family get-togethers. Although I wouldn't be so insensitive as to invite her soon-to-be ex, I'm not comfortable welcoming the boyfriend with open arms. My nephew will be at these gatherings, and his wounds are still fresh. I am trying to be considerate of his feelings.

Sheila says I shouldn't force her to choose, and that her boyfriend is her family now. I say that my nephew has been my family for 23 years. At what point do we have to include the boyfriend? Should I back down and let her bring the guy? — Caught in the Middle

Dear Caught: While we understand your reluctance to accept this man, we urge you to reconsider. Registering your disapproval is justified, but at some point, it can become counterproductive. Sheila is not going to come without him, so your choice is to see both of them or neither. Not seeing Sheila is one option. However, if Sheila marries this man, it will help your nephew enormously if he can learn to tolerate the guy's presence. And it will be easier to do if he has the rest of his supportive family nearby, showing him how to be civil without necessarily being friendly. It will also help Sheila. If this man is as controlling as you fear, someone needs to keep an eye on the situation.

Dear Annie: My younger sister, "Linda," age 50, is getting married for the fifth time. She is planning a wedding in the town where I grew up, about 400 miles away.

My wife refuses to attend the wedding because she says it's tacky and narcissistic to have such an affair for the fifth time, plus it's a long drive. I agree that Linda is rather self-absorbed, and I can only imagine what the guests may be thinking when my sister vows to love and to hold until death do you part. Again.

I agree with my wife on principle, but Linda is my only sister. I could attend without my wife, but I don't want to tell my sister why I'm by myself. How should I handle this? — Big Brother

Dear Big Brother: We think you should go, even if it means going without your wife, although it would be nice if she would attend for your sake. If Linda should ask about your wife's absence, simply say she has other commitments. You don't owe anyone more of an explanation than that.

Dear Annie: "Puzzled in Indiana" said his brother refuses to speak to their father because Dad sold the family house when Mom died and built a new one with his new wife, instead of sharing the proceeds of the sale with the kids.

My husband and I have been married for 40 years. We both worked and raised our kids. Whatever remains in our estate I expect to be for our children. I didn't work extra shifts for the benefit of some future wife. I would not begrudge my husband the companionship of someone else in the event of my death. He can share his Social Security and pension, but not everything I worked for. — Retiree in Florida

Dear Florida: We understand your position, but "Puzzled" said Mom left the house to Dad, not to the kids. In which case, he was free to do with it as he wished.

This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2012. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at

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