DEAR ABBY: A year ago my sister "Jan" started dating this guy, "Miles," who soon moved in with her. Everyone in our family was welcoming until she started telling us their problems. We thought things between them had improved, but recently Jan tried to take her own life because she could no longer handle the stress.
I admit I had distanced myself from her before this tragedy happened. I haven't forgiven him, but I realize she's old enough to make her own decisions and will continue to do what she wants with whom she wants.
I now tolerate Miles because I don't want to push her away. I almost lost her once in a terrible way, and I refuse to lose her in any other way again. I have worked to have a better relationship with my sister. My husband, on the other hand, refuses to let things go with Miles, and because of it our family is in jeopardy.
I practically beg him to just be cordial so Jan and I can have the ones we love around us in the same room. My husband refuses. He blames Miles for her suicide attempt, even though she has told us repeatedly it wasn't about him.
I'm stuck and don't know where to go from here. I just want to be able to have our families together without problems. What do you suggest I do? -- STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
DEAR STUCK: Tell your husband that your sister is emotionally fragile and needs all the support she can get. Point out that isolation can be a contributing factor for depression and suicide. If he thinks he is being supportive by blaming Miles for what happened, he is mistaken.
Your husband and Miles don't have to be "buddies." Surely your husband is mature enough to tolerate Miles' presence for a short time during gatherings, if only for your sister's sake. However, if he isn't, perhaps he will listen to a suicide prevention counselor, who can explain the importance of family support.
DEAR ABBY: I attend religious services with a wonderful group of people. For some reason our family has been chosen to receive not only everybody's hand-me-downs, but new clothes as well. We receive several large bags of clothes each season.
I hate to seem ungrateful, but I don't have the time or room to keep a large rotation of clothing for my kids. Their room is a mess, and most of it is clothing I didn't even buy. Is there a nice way to stop accepting these gifts? -- THE CHOSEN FAMILY
DEAR CHOSEN: Of course! Thank the pastor of your church for the generosity that has been shown to your family. Then explain that you can't use all of the clothing you are being given and suggest that from now on those items be saved for a needy family who could use them.
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