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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple's Hearts Were Fonder When Distance Was Greater

DEAR ABBY: I have been married three years. My wife comes from a large family, most of whom are here on the East Coast. She is close to all her sisters. One of them, "Kate," is gay and moved out west to be with her girlfriend, "Leslie."

Kate and Leslie break up every year. Then Kate flies back to visit the family. Everyone tells her not to reconcile with Leslie and to start a life without her. After a few weeks, Kate goes back, gets back together with Leslie, and the cycle starts all over again.

It's always the same story: Leslie initiates the breakup. Kate gets lonely and calls us for comfort at all hours of the night because she doesn't work a "normal" job, and it's still early for her. My wife and I both work and we have to get up very early.

I have told my wife that Kate needs to break this repeating cycle. I want to speak up but don't think it's my place as a non-blood relative. Is there anything anyone can do to get through to her that what she's doing is not only hurting her, but other family members? -- SLEEP-DEPRIVED IN SPRINGFIELD, VA.

DEAR SLEEP-DEPRIVED: Sorry, but Kate needs to figure that out for herself. In the meantime, you and your wife need to agree on what time to turn off the ringer on your phone. Sleep is important, and your health could depend on it.