Q: My elder brother has always been a wonderful, happy-go-lucky individual whom we enjoy seeing as often as possible because he can be a lot of fun. He has always lived his life to its fullest, albeit over the top sometimes.
He met a woman whom we all love, and we believed they were the perfect couple. Unfortunately, after four years, they are now in divorce court.
Our family now understands the reason. My brother overspent their income, and unbeknownst to us until recently, they have been going through bankruptcy and his company is moving to another state. This means we will see him less often.
Our concern now is that my brother and our 16-year-old son have bonded. They get together at least once a week and share sports activities and other male bonding time.
My husband has two jobs so that we can meet our expenses and does not have much time to play with our son.
What can we do?
A: Although your son will sorely miss his uncle, this divorce may prove beneficial to your son in terms of his financial education. Learning why his uncle divorced and realizing the importance of balancing his expenses and income will be a giant step in his maturity.
Fortunately, from disappointments often come growth and learning opportunities. — Doug
STICK IN THE MUD
Q: Recently, I've been getting very irritated by my husband of 35 years, and I don't know what to do about it. He often acts like the stereotypically cranky old man, and I'm worried that he's getting old before his time. It seems as if he can't tolerate any variation from our routine.
His attitude has also been causing problems in public, and my husband doesn't seem to notice the effect of what he says on other people. He won't stop complaining.
What can I do?
A: Many people stop wanting to adapt to their environment after a certain age. However, maintaining our mental flexibility is essential to keeping our minds in order, especially when considering the possibility of Alzheimer's disease. It is possible that there is some legitimacy to his complaints. But more importantly, he is driving people away who want to be close.
Because you're saying that this is a recent change, perhaps something is bothering your husband on a deeper level and he's displacing his frustration. Perhaps it is a health issue. Have his sleeping or eating patterns changed recently? Have there been any traumatic experiences in his life? Think and talk about what may have changed, and see whether there's anything you can do to address the root problem.
Although it's tempting to want to change the behavior and attitude of the people around us, sometimes the best tool is to look inward instead. You can't ultimately dictate what others do and think, but you can change your own attitude and outlook. Be patient. — Emma
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.