DEAR NATALIE: My husband and I have been married for a very long time (26 years and counting) and to “spice things up” we invited another woman into our bedroom. The deal was that this would be a “one time thing.” Ever since the experience – which was fun! – he keeps pushing us to do it again. I’m open to the idea of every now and then, but I think he wants the same person to join us. I have her cell number. He does not as this was another rule we put in place – but he’s being really pushy about me calling her. I don’t think it is a good idea for one of us to become “attached” to someone in this way and I’m now worried it is impacting our relationship. What should I do? I don’t want to come off looking like a prude, but I am also protective of what we have. Any thoughts? – THREE'S A CROWD
DEAR THREE'S A CROWD: You’re not a prude, that’s for sure. A lot of people would never even entertain this idea, let alone go through with it. If you laid the ground rules – and it sounds like you did – it isn’t fair that he is trying to change them on you. You need to have a discussion with him about what this “adventure” was meant to do for your relationship. If it is going to be a wedge, then it isn’t worth doing again. If he can’t handle the rules that you both set up and agreed to, then it calls into question the foundation of your marriage. Center what is most important – the two of you. These trysts can be fun, but not at the expense of what you have built. Remind him of that. If he can’t let it go, then figure out what is at the root of this. Is it worth ruining everything you’ve built to this point? I would hope not.
DEAR NATALIE: My brother has a terrible problem with alcohol and it is starting to impact his relationship with his wife. She called me in tears the other night because he didn’t come home – again – until the bar closed. He drove himself home – again – under the influence. She said she knows how dangerous this is and can’t stand to see him consistently put himself and others in danger. She doesn’t know what to do. She wanted to leave him to “create a bottom” and wanted to know if she could stay with me, my husband and kids for a while. I talked to my husband about it but he doesn’t think we should get involved. I’m worried my brother is going to die. I love my husband and don’t want to strain our marriage, but this seems like the end of the line for everyone’s patience. Do you think I should let her move in temporarily? Do you think that will even do anything at all? – A VERY SAD SISTER
DEAR A VERY SAD SISTER: You should reach out to Al-Anon and see what local meetings are in your area. Before staging any kind of intervention or “creating a bottom,” it may be best to talk with some professionals in this space who can help you navigate this with your brother and sister-in-law. Addiction is a terrible disease that pulls in the entire family unit. Staying united with your sister-in-law is a good idea as you can lean on one another. This will be an issue your brother has to want to confront for there to be any kind of path forward to healing. If he loses everything that matters to him, then that may be what it takes for him to seek help. Be prepared for your brother to be angry and even go radio silent on you. I applaud you for wanting to be there for your sister-in-law. Whatever you decide to do, remember to ground it in compassion for everyone involved. I hope your brother can get the support he needs to rebuild his life in a way that brings him closer to his higher self. And I hope it doesn’t take everything falling down around him for that to happen.
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