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Carolyn Hax: Only brother can speak to distance

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn: I was very close to my brother’s wife till about six years ago, when I learned she was having an affair with a mutual friend. I confronted her and told her I would have to tell my brother (I mean, he’s my BROTHER). She begged me not to, but would not agree to tell him herself, so I did it anyway. He forgave her and they worked through it, but my sister-in-law has still not forgiven me.

Since that happened, I have finished grad school, gotten married and had a baby. My brother was minimally involved in all three events, and my sister-in-law didn’t acknowledge any of them. I’m so disappointed at how all this has turned out, but worst of all, I don’t feel as if I deserve to be cut out of the family for telling the truth. – On family loyalty

If I had to guess, I’d say your brother has forgiven you, but that his wife makes it so difficult for him to have you around that it’s the path of least resistance for him to keep you at arm’s length. Sad, if true, not to mention gutless.

Have you talked to your brother about it? He’s the linchpin – the one who needs to stand up for you, or, alternately, to give you his rationale for his “minimal involvement.”

I don’t necessarily think there is a good reason, because even if he thinks your meddling was wrong, it’s pretty clear you were at least trying to do right by him. But only he can speak to that.

Regardless, estrangement is a choice your brother and his wife are free to make – and if they stick to it, all you can do is be accessible and warm, make noninvasive efforts to stay in touch, and hope time changes their minds.

Hi, Carolyn: How do you know the difference between cold feet and the wrong relationship? I’m getting married in a month to an amazing man, but lately I’ve found myself looking fondly back on my studio apartment that I didn’t have to share, and remembering how, 10 years ago, I wanted to be a spinster forever.

I’ve also started noticing more men I’m interested in – just on a surface level – and thinking about my life with any of them versus my soon-to-be-husband. We are blessed in our relationship, he loves me, I think I love him, we have a wonderful dog and a great condo. I don’t want children, so I feel like I’ve gotten into this for the right reasons, but why now am I so suddenly lukewarm about it? – Cold feet

Ew. It’s normal for people who share a home, even a loving one, to daydream about having their own space. Though if you have a mature relationship, you can find ways to give each other a little breathing room.

What I can’t shrug off is the loveless way you described your life with your fiance. You’re on board with the dog and the condo!? And, eh, he’ll do? What a lucky guy …

If it’s not about his companionship, then it’s not about the “right reasons.” That’s it.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 9 a.m.each Friday at www.washington post.com.


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