DEAR AMY: My brother, “Harold” died unexpectedly from an infection in December. It was a shock to me and our other brother, because he had always been the healthiest one of us. I have never been close to my sister-in-law, and their adult kids are off living their lives. I sent a condolence card to each of them but got nothing in return. They are the only family I have, so I am at a loss as to how to stay connected. What do you suggest?
DEAR GRIEVING: Because your brother died suddenly — during a pandemic — his wife and children may be reeling in their own orbits, unable to be expansive enough to understand that you, too, are grieving.
In less isolated times, when people are able to gather together to mourn, family members can circle together and comfort each other personally.
I’m so sorry you are experiencing such acute grief.
Because you want to forge a closer connection (good for you!), you should call your sister-in-law occasionally to check in and see how she and her kids are doing.
Contact the adult children personally, as well. Social media offers a wonderful way to connect and essentially get to know people in a new way. If any of these relatives are active on Facebook or Instagram, it would be worthwhile for you to create an account (if you don’t have one, already) and see if you can connect with them.
DEAR AMY: I believe my husband is having an affair. I know this from watching his behaviors. His phone is constantly going off, day and night. He stands with his back against the wall to check his phone so I can’t see it when he gets home. He is constantly clearing his history. He is very protective about his phone and gets very defensive when I try to talk to him about it. He is also narcissistic and very into porn. He has always been dishonest. When we were engaged, I caught him sexting with his ex-wife, who was one of my closest friends. His mother even warned me about how dishonest he is. He refuses to work on our relationship and is very emotionally abusive and immature. I have prayed, gone to church, and done everything I can to support him and help him, but ultimately it’s his choice to continue with these behaviors. He acts like he doesn’t care. He doesn’t change. He won’t go to counseling to get help. I feel taken for granted and used. He only wants me as a home base and wants to continue communicating with lots of women on the side. I believe he has fallen out of love with me. The spark in his eyes is gone and he won’t communicate. At this point I don’t know what to do. I have already considered separation but don’t feel like that will fix anything because he refuses to change. I don’t want a divorce because I love him.
DEAR CONFUSED: Actually, separation could fix everything. Everything.
Separation would remove you from your husband’s orbit. You wouldn’t have to watch him as he tries to mask what he’s doing in your home and under your nose. You wouldn’t be forced to look into his loveless, sparkless eyes.
You wouldn’t have to confront him about his dishonesty or listen to his lies and defensive responses to your allegations.
You don’t have to stop loving your husband. You do need to start loving yourself. You need to grow up, accept that you cannot force your husband to change, and take responsibility for the fact that you chose to marry someone you don’t trust. Counseling would help you.
You are a great believer in the power of change. So change!
DEAR AMY: With all too much time on my hands this past year, I’ve been digitizing hundreds of photographs I hadn’t looked at in decades. I’m grateful for every romantic relationship I’ve had, and some of these photographs document these long past relationships. I’d be very interested in your and readers’ thoughts about my obligations, if any, with respect to such images. Do I destroy them? Offer to share with former partners? And, more delicately, some of these images display tasteful — not explicit — nudity (I worked as a professional photographer in my youth). Should these be handled differently?
DEAR EMBERS: I think you should ask the other people pictured (privately, not on social media) whether they would like these photographs. If not, offer to delete them.