DEAR ABBY: My brother and his husband are getting ready to file for divorce. Before they do, however, they are embarking on a very expensive trip to Italy. It was paid for before the divorce conversations started.
When they travel, I fly into the town where we both grew up, watch their home and dogs and spend time with old friends. I like to come into town a few days early, in case there are any delays with my flight, so none of us has to worry about the dogs being alone.
I arrived last night. My brother left for the weekend to spend time with his new gent, and my brother-in-law has invited his new gent over for dinner tonight.
My concept of etiquette demands that I be friendly and welcoming of these new people in my brother’s and brother-in-law’s life. However, it is awkward.
Yes, I know divorce happens. But my brother-in-law is just as much a part of my family in my eyes as my brother.
Are there any rules or thoughts regarding these new relationships as marriages end and new relationships begin?
— SUPPORTIVE SISTER IN ARIZONA
DEAR SISTER: Your brother and his (almost) former husband appear to be handling their soon-to-be dissolution in a civil manner — very civil, if they’re taking a pre-divorce European vacation together.
If they part as friends, your chances of maintaining a friendship with your (almost) former BIL are better.
Keep an open mind and be gracious when you meet the new man in your brother’s life. Avoid gossip, cross your fingers and hope for the best for everyone. That’s all you can do. From the tone of your letter, I am sure you can handle this, Sis.
DEAR ABBY: My 57-year-old husband is consumed with watching videos on his cellphone. This is like an addiction for him. He spends hour after hour of his home time with his phone in hand watching all kinds of videos.
I have tried talking to him, mentioning that this distraction is taking away from any time we have together. His response to me is a blank look. Nothing more.
I told him once that if we had a child, we certainly would not allow our child to spend anywhere near as much time watching videos on the phone, tablet or computer. Again, a blank look.
He doesn’t regard his excessive screen time as a problem. I certainly do.
What can I do or say? I’m at the end of my rope.
— SECOND TO THE SCREEN
DEAR SECOND: Your husband gives you a blank look because he’s so engrossed in this entertainment he doesn’t realize how much time he’s actually spending on his cellphone.
By the way, he isn’t alone in having that problem. It’s shared by people of all ages. The reasons can range from being caught in “email hell” for hours to using it as a deliberate escape from reality.
Because you have reached the end of your rope and have become virtually a widow, tell your husband that if he wants to continue being married, he must consent to marriage counseling. And, if he gives you another blank look, consult a lawyer.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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