Dear Annie: My sister-in-law, "Marie," has been diagnosed as bipolar but doesn't take any medication. For 25 years, it has caused serious trouble. Marie is a spiteful, evil, controlling human being. You can't find a single person in town with a kind word to say about her. Her own daughters try to keep their distance.
My brother is afraid to leave her and instead seeks the company of other women. He's had many affairs during their marriage. All of the men he works with are aware of this and even encourage it because they see how awful his wife is.
As brothers, we were always close, but Marie has managed to sever our relationship. My brother is not a healthy man. He works extra hours in order to stay away from home. His latest girlfriend is a beautiful, kind, sweet woman. He adores her but is afraid of what Marie might do. She has threatened to destroy his life if he ever leaves her. Her threats are real.
While we do not condone his cheating, the family has witnessed his painful marriage. What can we do? — Brother to Brother
Dear Brother: Marie should not be allowing her bipolar disorder to control her behavior. It would help if your brother could get her to see a doctor and find a medication that works for her. If she refuses and your brother is truly afraid to leave because of her threats, this would be considered emotional abuse. Suggest that he contact the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women (dahmw.org) at 1-888-7HELPLINE.
Dear Annie: My older brother will be 60 this year, and he and his friends are hosting a group party in another state. His entire family lives here, including his son. That means for the majority of the guests, attending will include travel and hotel expenses. I am fine with that. What I don't get is that this event isn't offering any meals. That means dinner is on us and we will have to pay for drinks at the party. I think this is just plain wrong.
We are a small family and very close. I have invited my brother to numerous dinners here over the years. I suggested that we celebrate his birthday with a family dinner at my house, and he said, "That is not going to happen." I don't know what to think. — Party Pooper, Santa Cruz, California
Dear Party: We are confused by the words "hosting a party" when the guests are paying for everything. Nonetheless, your brother can have the party of his choosing in the location he prefers, and you get to decide whether or not to attend. Determine how important it is for you to be there. If your brother would be hurt by your absence, please go if you can afford to do so.
Dear Annie: This is for "Searching for Answers," whose wife of 11 years doesn't want sex. She works in a profession, maintains a home, runs 5 miles a day to keep herself in shape and is raising three young kids. I'd like to offer him my insight of 73 years, 46 of which have been spent married to my wonderful wife.
Sex is like the frosting on a cake. It tops off a good thing. But frosting without the cake is not satisfying. Those who marry in order to have an easy source of sex should work out some other way to satisfy their needs. A marriage where sex is the prime motivation will become tedious and dull or will not last.
Marriage consists of many things, some good, some bad. It is living day to day in a quiet routine. It means that you have a close companion with whom you can share a sunset. Think before you throw in the towel on your marriage and give up the cake for the frosting. — An Old Guy Who's Been There
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 www.creators.com.