In­dis­cre­tions of brother’s part­ner make travel choice dif­fi­cult for rel­a­tive

Austin American-Statesman - - TVTONIGHT - cAroLYN hAX Tell Me About It is writ­ten by Carolyn Hax of The Washington Post. Her col­umn ap­pears on Tues­day, Thurs­day and Satur­day. E-mail her at tellme@ wash­

Dear Carolyn: My brother and his part­ner of six years have rented a beach house for a week this sum­mer and in­vited some fam­ily and friends along. I hap­pily ac­cepted be­cause I love to spend time with my brother, and we live a plane ride apart.

He has since con­fided that his part­ner has cheated, re­peat­edly, with men he met on­line, once in their shared home. He con­sid­ered leav­ing the first two times, but now, the fifth time, he is look­ing the other way — which is his right.

I used to re­ally like his part­ner, but now the thought of him makes my skin crawl. Can I back out of the trip with­out look­ing judg­men­tal or alien­at­ing my brother? The beach house is fully paid for by my brother’s part­ner, who is wealthy and, by the way, also pays for pretty much ev­ery­thing ma­jor in my brother’s life be­cause he is fin­ish­ing up med school. Spend­ing time some­where on the part­ner’s dime is not some­thing I want to do, and I’m not sure I can be fake-nice for sev­eral days. I also do not want to of­fend my brother … help!

— Torn Big Sis

Dear Torn Big Sis: You have sev­eral good rea­sons to can­cel, with the most pow­er­ful be­ing, I be­lieve, your re­luc­tance to es­sen­tially spend the part­ner’s money while qui­etly de­spis­ing him. Though hurt­ful, can­cel­ing would be a prin­ci­pled stand mo­ti­vated by your af­fec­tion for your brother, so the foun­da­tion for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion would be built into your ac­tions.

You also have sev­eral good rea­sons to go as planned — they’re a cou­ple, so the house is as much your brother’s as it is his part­ner’s — but you didn’t men­tion the most per­sua­sive one.

Your brother didn’t get into this high-risk-be­trayal/res­ig­na­tion/depen­dency hole overnight; he’s been dig­ging slowly for years. Where you see an acute prob­lem, he likely just sees day-to-day life. To him, it’s fa­mil­iar, rou­tine.

For bet­ter or worse, fam­ily vis­its re­mind us of who we used to be — and if this sit­u­a­tion with his part­ner has been chip­ping away at your brother’s in­tegrity and self-worth, then your pres­ence might help him see how much he has lost. A dis­creet “I’m wor­ried about you” can give that reck­on­ing a push.

Dear Carolyn: I gave birth to my sec­ond child, a healthy girl, two months ago. I know I am blessed. But. I haven’t heard from some of the peo­ple I thought were my clos­est friends. I know ev­ery­one is busy, but it’s been two months! I’m not high-main­te­nance — I did not have a shower for ei­ther of my chil­dren, and I gen­er­ally don’t like to make a fuss over my­self. But be­ing com­pletely ig­nored af­ter one of the most im­por­tant mo­ments in my life is ex­tremely hurt­ful. Should I cut these peo­ple out of my life? Ap­proach them with how I’m feel­ing? Or am I be­ing too sen­si­tive?

— Missing My Friends

Dear Missing My Friends: Your friends have blown it, no ques­tion — but I’d sug­gest not tak­ing any kind of stand just yet.

In­stead, reach out to these friends your­self. Nei­ther hide nor broad­cast your feel­ings. In­vite peo­ple over — just to catch up — and see what hap­pens. Hav­ing them in your pres­ence will help you see whether you’re an­gry, sad or over it — and whether it’s worth it to say how you feel.

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