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Man wonders if larger house could signal bigger problem

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My fiancee, "Diane," and her two sons live in a nice home. I also have a nice home, newly constructed. It's located 1,200 miles away, near my parents, my son and my job. Diane currently has no job nor family within 500 miles of her town. Her boys' father (whom she shares custody with) lives within 50 miles of me. My job and the custody arrangement for my son preclude me from living where Diane does.

Together, she and I would have three sons. The spacious five-bedroom house I own is more than adequate. Diane has made clear that if I sell my home and buy my neighbor's, which is a larger seven-bedroom manor, she will be on the next flight. If not, she won't leave. We could buy the manor with cash if I sell my home and she sold hers and put her savings into the purchase, but she doesn't want to use her savings.

Diane is my everything, but it feels like I may just be chasing a dream. I worry that if I'm not enough, will I be enough when I own a manor? -- IT'S COMPLICATED

DEAR IT'S COMPLICATED: I'm proud of you. You are seeing things clearly, which is unusual when emotions are involved. It appears your dream girl, the fair Diane, is attempting to blackmail you. If she can't be the "lady of the manor," she's not interested in uprooting her life. If you give in to her now, do not do it without an ironclad prenuptial agreement. Please stay strong, because if you don't, you may regret it for a long time.

DEAR ABBY: My sisters and I are beside ourselves trying to deal with our 90-year-old mother. She doesn't live in the same state as any relatives. She needs help paying bills, managing money, personal hygiene, taking medication and understanding things she reads. She refuses to give anyone power of attorney over her finances or to create a health care directive. She claims she's not going to die.

At the very least, she likely has some form of dementia. We want nothing more than to protect her interests, but our hands are tied. We have all spoken to her about the situation, but she insists that no one is going to tell her what to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. -- JUST TRYING TO HELP HER

DEAR JUST TRYING: Believe me, you have my sympathy. Instead of telling your mother what to do, perhaps it's time to reframe the conversation.

Ask her what she would like done in the event of an emergency. Does she want "extraordinary measures" taken, such as CPR, and exactly what that means -- a defibrillator, dialysis, treatment in an intensive care unit. Explain what all of them entail in detail. You should also ask, in a separate conversation, if she wants "the state" to take a chunk of her assets and decide for her to whom they should be distributed, or whether she would prefer to make her wishes clear while she's still able. Point out that NO ONE lives forever.

If your mother is really as demented as you fear she is, you may need the help of a social worker to ensure that she's getting proper care. Failure to do that could be considered elder abuse.

DEAR ABBY: I need your opinion. I have been with the same guy for 27 years. We never married because we were both married before, and I wasn't into doing it again. I have stuck by him through sickness, hard times and whatever else.

Four months ago I was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. I stopped by his house this week to pick up a rug scrubber and walked in on him having sex with some woman. I feel hurt, angry, mad, sad. It's like, why? Do you think he has been doing this and he just got caught or what?

I didn't say anything. I just left. He called me later and said it was over between us because I'm sick and "can't do anything." I'm in shock. I don't know what to think. I have always been there for him. So why, now that I'm sick and I need him the most, has he turned his back on me? -- BLINDSIDED IN OHIO

DEAR BLINDSIDED: I am so, so sorry that you had to find out this way -- when the chips are down -- that the man you have been involved with for 27 years isn't much of a man after all. I DO think he has been doing this all these years.

Now it is time to marshal your friends and family and let them know what's going on. If you have been a caring and supportive friend or relative, they should be supportive during this challenging time. The American Cancer Society has support groups for people with cancer if you need someone to talk to. Its website is cancer.org. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers for both a spiritual and physical recovery.

DEAR ABBY: My family is getting torn apart by my older brother's issue with me. It has become worse over the years, even after his marriage.

He seems to be upset with how my life is progressing, and to upset me, he has been copying everything I do. He got engaged and married around the same time I did. He also got a dog right after I did, bought a car right after me and decided he wanted to start a family as soon as my wife and I announced we are having a baby.

My parents constantly make excuses about why his actions are justified. I no longer know what to do. I tried to reconcile with him, but he rebuffed me and says he hates me. It has reached the point that I don't want to be around any of my family anymore because they defend him on everything, despite the facts. What should I do? I seem to be the only person trying to reconcile the relationship and fix/reunite my family. -- SAD SIBLING IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR SIBLING: I find it hard to believe that your family would side with a sibling who declares he "hates" his brother and refuses attempts to reconcile. It's important for your mental health that you separate emotionally from your brother. By that I mean dial back the resentment, live your life with your wife and child and stop obsessing about what your brother does. That he literally follows in your footsteps shows he either admires the choices you make, or that he has no imagination of his own. Neither of these should be a problem for YOU.