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Ask Amy

Sister feels pressure to take in dad

Q. I am a middle child, with an older and younger sister. Over the past two years my sisters have had my father live with them for a time. He was ill for a while but is now recovering.

My husband and I are about to buy our first home, and my younger sister is hounding me to have my father live with us.

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He is quite young (59) and is capable of living on his own. We don’t have children yet and have the space, but my younger sister would also be tagging along. She has been “floating” for more than a year (i.e. sleeping here and there; she doesn’t have a permanent home).

My husband and I understand that someday we will have to take my father in, but we are not ready to do it. My husband and I aren’t buying this home to house my family. Are we being selfish?

A. You and your husband have formed a family. Your primary job is to put your family at the center of your lives. Then you give what you can to others. Nothing strains a marriage so much as cohabiting with other family members, and unless you and your husband both want very much to do this, then you should not.

You say your younger sister has been floating from home to home for a year. You should assume that she has a strong motive to pressure you to provide for your father, because then you would also be providing for her. You don’t mention what your father wants or needs. You and your husband need to communicate with him directly to outline what you are prepared to do for him, now and in the future.

Q. I am 21 and newly married. The man I married was a good guy, but now I feel ignored and neglected.

I am disabled and use a wheelchair part time (as well as a service dog). He seems embarrassed by this and has pressured me more than once to not use my wheelchair and push through the pain, even though I feel I should use my chair so I can function later. He gets angry a lot, and I try to placate him.

He has withheld food until I could clean the kitchen. He says I’m lazy, even though I spend most of my days at school and working. He comments on my weight, even though I am on the low end of my BMI. He makes hurtful comments about my level of physical ability, wishing that I could be “more active and be a cheerleader or something.”

I’ve even been smacked upside the head for making a silly mistake. I don’t know what to do or think anymore. I feel perpetually guilty.

Lately I’ve lost interest in him and have a hard time being intimate. I have been taking notice of other men and dreaming about being with other men. I’ve felt so hurt by the things my husband has done, even after he has apologized. Help me; I just don’t know what to do.

A. You need to leave this relationship. You report that your husband is emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive. This is not safe for you. This will not change unless he changes, and — even if he apologizes after he has been abusive — you cannot count on him to change.

Q. “Wondering” was considering seeking sex outside of her marriage. In your reply, you said that if her husband agrees to this, then it is not really “cheating.”

One of the definitions of “cheat” is “to be sexually unfaithful.” The husband’s permission is irrelevant.

A. Other readers agreed with you. I feel that if adults consent to have an “open” marriage, then it doesn’t rise to your definition.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@tribune.com. Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.
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