DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: Whenever my sister needs help (which happens a lot!), my mom, stepdad, and I always do what we can to help her and her husband out. It also always seems to happen that whenever one of us needs a hand with something, she and her husband are never available. Since she used to be more helpful before she got married, we are thinking this is coming from her husband, who is not at all close to his own family.
How do we let my sister know her helping would be greatly appreciated, and that it does not feel very fair that there is not reciprocation when we ask for help? This has been especially upsetting since my stepdad’s cancer diagnosis and treatments. --- COULD USE A HAND SOMETIMES
DEAR COULD USE A HAND SOMETIMES: It’s entirely possible your sister’s getting caught between her husband’s preferences and your family’s needs. This could mean too many requests might result in her feeling as if she has to make a choice between the two sides.
Rather than putting in a lot of small requests, perhaps you could try directly approaching your sister with a specific call for help only she — without her husband along — can render. Let her know how much her stepping in, even this one time, would mean to your parents.
If she finds herself unable to meet you this far, her loyalties are clear, and you would save yourself some frustration by finding other ways to get things done. Sometimes a little walking away is a big sanity saver.