A: There is a compromise here. Since your brother has had more than a year of being clean, that should entitle him to visit the baby. For your husband's sake—since he is probably always going to have a rocky relationship with your brother—those visits should be with a family group. That way your husband can relax because there will be many eyes on your brother. As for the rest, I think you need to back off. Your husband is entitled to talk out difficult things concerning your family with his closest confidants. It's fair for him to get a read from others on his inclinations and hear theirs out before he presents his hoped-for restrictions regarding your brother. You have come to me, after all, to figure out how to come back at your husband with a counterproposal! As for your brother watching your child, you and your husband are getting way ahead of where you need to be on this. Your child isn't even born yet, so you just don't need to worry about parceling out the baby-sitting duties at this moment. It may be that the violations done by your brother were so disturbing that while your husband is happy to see your brother remaking himself, he just can't go so far as to trust your brother to be alone with your child. That might be a fair assessment until there is a long history of your brother staying clean. In another example, it could be that a beloved parent is just too infirm or dingy to care for a grandchild solo, but that doesn't mean that person is cut out of the grandchild's life. I'm hoping that if you can concede to your husband on the baby-sitting issue, he will understand that part of your brother's recovery is being welcomed back to the family and society, and he will give ground on the visiting question. And here's hoping your brother is able to stay on this new path, which will be full of profound rewards for himself and those who love him.
Q. Affairs: Are we really meant to be monogamous? I guess I'm wondering how to stem the tide of attraction to someone who is in a marriage. It's a mutual attraction and I guess maybe I'm trying to justify it. But what happens when you meet someone who is a great match, but is already involved?
A: Oh, "in a marriage" is such a temporary state, and if you glance at evolutionary-psychology literature, that's a clear mandate that we're not meant to be monogamous, so of course you have to go for it. It's good to keep in mind when you try to bust up this marriage that you already know that tons of people can be great matches. That means when this one burns out, there always another attractive married person who's going to come along.
Q. Re: Wine every night: I also came from a wine-every-night family, and carried that habit with enthusiasm into my adult life. Until I realized I couldn't remember the last day I hadn't had wine at night. So I gave it up for a month, and realized my dependence/habit when it was hard for me not to drink it. Now I try to only drink one or two nights a week, and not to carry it into drinks while watching TV after dinner, etc. Prudie didn't say it, but three glasses a night is a lot of wine, and it's worth cutting back for a lot of reasons, not least because your drinking is hurting your relationship with someone you care about. And, when you do cut down, you will likely lose weight because you're dropping a ton of empty calories. I'm happy every day for breaking the habit before it was more than a habit.
A: Exactly. Thanks for the words of wisdom.
Q. Recovering Alcoholic Wants to Start Drinking Again: My husband of 30 years was an alcoholic in his younger days and early in our marriage. He quit over 25 years ago and I believe if he hadn't, we wouldn't have stayed married. About a year ago, he tried non-alcoholic beer and seems to enjoy that. Now he's talking about trying real beer, just at home, to see if he can just have one or two. He drives for a living and is adamant he wouldn't jeopardize his job (he would be fired if he got an DUI even when not on the job). He feels he's older and wiser now and would be able to drink responsibly. Well, it scares the daylights out of me that I would have to live through again what we went through back then. He was one of those that never knew when to quit for the night. He'd buy a case of beer when the bar closed in order to continue. He also would be as sick as a dog the next day. I've told him how I feel, so he hasn't taken that step, but I know if I said, sure, give it a try, he would.
A: Today's theme: the Days of Wine and Roses. Your husband is in real danger of losing his sobriety, his livelihood, and you. He's older, but no wiser. One beer is going to turn into 12, and down the drain goes his life. However he got sober, AA or some other program, he needs to return pronto for a tune-up. You cannot be your husband's superego. He has to recognize the delusions he's engaging in and the potential consequences. Tell him you'll accompany him to an AA meeting if that's what it takes for him to recognize that he's one beer away from disaster—and if he starts drinking, you're leaving.
Q. But what happens when you meet someone who is a great match, but is already involved?: You go away and look for someone who's a great match but is available.
Q. Online Dating: My fiancé and I met on match.com. What's a good response to people who are put off by the way we met? About half the people who hear embrace that internet dating is becoming a more common route to couples finding each other. The other half say things such as, "Oh, I didn't realize you could meet a legitimate person on websites like that." Any suggestions?
A: Just shake your head somberly and say, "You're right. You can't."
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