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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Resents Being Benched in Favor of Her Brother-in-Law

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 12 years. Things are generally good, but we keep having the same old argument related to his little brother.

They have a close relationship, which is great, but I often end up feeling like I'm playing second fiddle to my brother-in-law. If I ask my husband to go out and do something on the weekend, he'll say he doesn't feel like it. Minutes later, if his brother makes the same suggestion, he's up and getting ready to go! Sometimes I end up along for the ride, which lessens the sting a little, but usually I'm left alone.

It wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that I don't have family close by, and I'm the agency lead where I work, so having "work friends" isn't an option. This leaves my husband the only person I have to spend time with.

I have tried explaining this to him, but when I try, he overreacts and claims I don't want him to spend any time with his brother, which is not what I'm saying. I have begun to feel that he's honest with me when he says no to something, but just can't bring himself to say no to his brother. Either way, it's exhausting and ridiculous. Is there any way to address this, or do I just deal with the sting when it happens and let it go? -- COMPETING FOR ATTENTION

DEAR COMPETING: If you and your husband haven't blocked out some time each week to spend together -- a date night -- you should. While I don't think it's healthy for you to be entirely dependent upon him for social contact, I do think you should be higher on his list of priorities than his brother.

Because you have already discussed this and seem to have gotten nowhere, please consider finding some other social outlets so you aren't so isolated. Special interest groups or hobbies come to mind.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce