Tereasa Jones, M.S.

Dear Tereasa:

My sister just got married to a guy 15 years older than her.† Every time we get together he acts like a know- it- all, contradicting anything we say.† I donít know whether he is trying to impress us or just hard to get along with.† Because he irritates me, I find that I am rude to him and avoid talking to my sister the way we used to talk.† I donít know whether my feelings are because of him, or that Iím just upset with my sister and her husband because I donít think she should have married a man 15 years older than her.† I love my sister and want to have a good relationship with her.† How do I get things back on track?

Missing my sister

Dear Missing:

It is sometimes difficult for us to accept the decisions that the people we love make for their lives, especially if we think it isnít in their best interest.† I canít say why your feel the way your do, and Iím not sure it is even important.† However, I do think that it† is† clear that you and your sister are drifting apart because of these feelings.† It might help for you to become clear about what is most important to you.† On one hand you can stand on principle and refuse to accept her marriage because it does not fit with what you would like for her.† If you do this, however, it might cost you your relationship with her.† On the other hand, you could respect her decision, accept that you are not an authority on what would make your sister happy, and wish her well.† If you are able to do this, your relationship with your sister need not change.† You will need to decide which of these scenarios you would like, and then put your heart and soul into your decision.† There is the other issue, though, about your brother-in-law acting like a know-it-all.† Assuming that you want to save the relationship with your sister, I think you should handle this delicately.† It could be that your brother-in-law feels your displeasure with your sisterís choice of husbands and is trying very hard to impress you. If this is the case, helping him to feel accepted should help in reducing his need to impress you. Perhaps as his sense of safety in your relationship grows, his know-it-all attitude might improve or disappear altogether.† In order for these things to work you will need to have a shift in your thinking towards both your sister and her husband.† Just pretending to accept him wonít work for long.† You might try remembering how important your relationship to your sister is each time you feel irritated by his behavior.† Maybe this will help keep things in perspective.† If the problem persists, please seek further help.† There are no problems that are worth the relationship between two sisters who love each other.† I hope this helps.† Good luck.

Tereasa

Dear Tereasa:

My husband and I bought and moved to an acreage near a small town on the lake to fulfill my husbandís dream.† He had always dreamed of having a large garden, a few animals and living close to the water so he could fish.† We have lived here for about a year now.† Instead of his dream, though, we have three acres of weeds where the garden was supposed to be, a barn that is falling apart, and four mangy dogs that are big and rowdy.† I have to feed and care for the dogs, and he gets mad when I tell him he has to either plant and take care of the garden or mow down the weeds.† He claims that he doesnít know what to do about the barn.† He hardly ever goes outside because it is either too hot, too cold, or too muddy.† I think we should move back to the city, but he tells me he loves it here.† What gives?† I have no idea how to handle this.† Any suggestions?

Puzzled

Dear Puzzled:

It has to be confusing to you to watch your husbandís dream fall apart when he appears to be so apathetic about it.† You have said nothing about your own dreams.† I have to wonder what you left behind in the city to help him realize his dream.† Your suggestion to him is that the two of you move back to the city, therefore I am going to assume that there is something there that you feel is worth returning to.† Would you want to go back to the city if your husbandís dream were to come true?† I donít know why he is apathetic towards the garden and the other things that need to get done, but it could be a couple of different things.† He could be overwhelmed because, while he thought he wanted to live in the country, he finds himself ill-equipped to do so.† If this is the case, he has some decisions to make.† Either he has to develop the skills he needs to maintain his property or he needs to entertain the idea of realizing that his dream wasnít all that he thought it would be.† The other possibility has more to do with you.† It could be that he feels that you are not truly happy with your new lives, and that you really want to go back to the city.† If this is the case he may feel conflicted because he canít figure out how to make his dream and your dream both come true. Sometimes when we are conflicted and have two seemingly opposing desires we become apathetic because we donít know how to choose between the two.† You are the only one who knows if this could be part of the problem.† I would suggest that you get clear about that before you proceed.† I like using a journal for these kinds of things.† Be honest with yourself.† There is nothing to be gained by denying how you really feel.† After you have become clearer, have a conversation with your husband and see if the two of you can identify the problem, come up with various solutions, and then pick among the solutions.† While it sometimes seems that there are no solutions, this is generally not so.† There are usually many solutions to any given problem; we just donít allow ourselves to think outside of the box.† I hope the two of you can work together on this; you both deserve to have your dreams.† I hope this helps.† Good luck.

Tereasa