Keeping Your Distance from a Toxic Family Member

By Marcy Sugar

By Kathy Mitchell

November 4, 2018 4 min read

Dear Annie: I recently found out that my sister and my husband were engaged in an emotional affair that lasted nearly two years.

I am in remission after having been diagnosed with breast cancer. On the day of my diagnosis, my 38-year-old son died. As a consequence of chemotherapy, I developed osteoporosis and sustained two broken femurs that required months of inpatient rehab.

My sister, "Louise," who is married and lives in another state, began asking my husband whether he would remarry when I die. He said he didn't think so. She then told him that she had received a vision from our departed sister, who said Louise and my husband were meant to be together. Louise's visits to our home became more frequent and lasted longer. She engaged him in outings and activities that I am completely incapable of pursuing. She flirted with and fawned over him.

After she left, I found an email my husband had written to her, saying that he adored her in every way. He said he wouldn't betray me, but that he would definitely remarry Louise after I died. All of this in secret, behind my back.

I confronted both of them, and my husband confessed his involvement and begged for forgiveness. He always has been forthright and honorable in the past, and we are working hard on our marriage. He has vowed to cut all ties with Louise. I have told her that she is never to set foot in my house again.

The problem is that my 91-year-old mother is quite ill and not likely to live much longer. I cannot be in the same room as my sister. Is there a way to honor our mother while avoiding a confrontation that will only be ugly? — Devastated

Dear Devastated: Louise is quite a piece of work, betraying you when you were most helpless. But your husband must also take responsibility for allowing his vulnerability to lead him astray. We are glad you are working on that. Louise deserves to be officially snubbed. That means if you end up in the same room, you do not acknowledge her presence. She is invisible to you, while you are perfectly gracious to everyone else.

Dear Annie: I was a pretty happy guy until my grandmother crushed my dreams. I planned to join my high school basketball team, but Grandma said I was never going to make it. This made me extremely sad and angry and put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

Is there any polite way to resolve this, or was Grandma right and I should just give up? I need help. — Brokenhearted, Crushed Dreams

Dear Brokenhearted: Is Grandma the basketball coach? Only the coach understands what combination of skills is desired each year. You might make it, you might not, but you deserve the opportunity to try. And if you don't make the team, there are other things you can do. Grandma may be trying to protect you, but disappointment is a useful learning experience. Tell her politely, "I appreciate your interest, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway." No one can crush your dreams if you don't let them. Use her negativity as motivation.

Dear Annie: This is for "Who Am I" and any other woman who wants to be addressed by her maiden name after marriage. If your marriage is still young, have a wedding announcement placed in your local paper with your name as you want it used and your husband's name. If it's too late for that, have business cards made with your preferred name and your husband's name, and give them out to anyone and everyone you know. — An Annie Fan on Cape Cod

This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2013. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

Like it? Share it!

  • 0

Classic Annie's Mailbox
About Marcy Sugar
Read More | RSS | Subscribe
Classic Annie's Mailbox
About Kathy Mitchell
Read More | RSS | Subscribe