Dear Annie: My wife's sister is an alcoholic. Now in her early 60s, "Petunia" lost her high-paying job five years ago because of her drinking. She has been depressed and unemployed ever since. She tried three expensive, high-class treatment centers and each time has relapsed within days of leaving. Petunia lives alone and pays someone (we don't know who) to bring her liquor every day.
The rest of the family has given up on her. My wife, however, keeps calling, bringing her groceries and doing whatever else she can to keep Petunia from drinking herself to death. Frankly, it's costing us a lot of money that I think we should be saving for our own retirements. But more than that, I am concerned that my wife is spending all her time and energy helping her sister while neglecting our home, our children, our grandchildren and me.
I've told her that I want her to seek professional advice so she can learn the best way to deal with her alcoholic sister before spending more effort on these futile rescue efforts. She says that won't help Petunia.
My wife is very smart about most things. I know she loves her sister, but why can't she step back and accept professional guidance? -- Sober Husband
Dear Sober: Your wife's reaction is emotional, not rational. And it's also possible that your wife has a small martyr complex and likes being the only one willing to sacrifice for her sister. But taking care of Petunia's needs while she continues to drink is a form of enabling. If your wife truly wants to "save" her sister, she should accompany Petunia to her next doctor's appointment and ask about newer medications that have shown some success in treating alcoholism. Then she should look into Al-Anon at al-anon.org.
Dear Annie: I would like to give encouragement to "Embarrassed," who won't date because he feels inadequately endowed. I am a male in my mid-50s who suddenly found himself single again. I, too, felt that no woman would want me because I am on the smaller end of the scale. I couldn't have been more wrong. It is the person inside that makes the difference. -- Content in the Northeast
Dear Content: Thank you for saying so. We received many responses of encouragement. Here's a small sample:
From Blessed: Please reassure "Embarrassed" that women come in different sizes, too. Size does matter -- but that does not mean larger is always better. I was blessed beyond my wildest wishes to find a man who actually fit my petite size. Lovemaking was no longer a painful experience, and he lacks for nothing.
Totally Satisfied: I am a happy, sexually active 55-year-old woman. My partner is adventurous, fun-loving, considerate and affectionate, in bed and out. He is paralyzed from the waist down. Please tell "Embarrassed" that the women worth having in his life will not judge him by the size of his "endowment," but by the size of his heart.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.