Wearying of being sister's port in a storm
DEAR AMY: My sister's husband is an alcoholic. He makes half-hearted attempts to get treatment, and then goes on another binge. When he's drinking and gets verbally abusive, my sister shows up at my place to crash for a few days, until he's sober again. This has been going on not just recently -- but for years. I love my sister, and I will always be there for her, but frankly I am getting fed up. Whenever she shows up at my door, she says she will leave him. Then she goes back and tells me he has apologized, he's getting treatment -- and then the whole cycle replays itself again and again. I know she is "enabling" him by not giving him an ultimatum and not moving out (her finances are tight, but since she is paying their rent now, I know she probably could afford a place of her own). Am I enabling her by letting her crash on my living room couch time after time? Would it be more helpful to her in the long run if I refused, however difficult that would be? Do any of your readers who have been through this have any advice?Fed Up
DEAR FED UP: You are "enabling" your sister. Your availability as a crash pad provides an escape hatch -- not only from her domestic emergencies but also from her anxiety. It also helps her delay making a tougher decision. You, basically, are part of this marriage's system.
If you want out, tell her so. Ask her, "What would you do if I wasn't here? What would you do if you didn't have any other place to go until your husband sobered up?"
Tell her you don't want to be involved in her marriage anymore and that it's time for her to find another place to live so she can move out for good.
Take her apartment hunting.
I don't think you should turn her away, but you should make it more uncomfortable for her to fall onto your couch.
I'm sure readers will share their ideas.