Dear Annie: My husband’s sister is impossible. “Anabel” is bitter, nasty, venal, snide and vicious. She can’t wait two minutes before making a cruel remark.

Soon after my husband and I moved back to his hometown, he had a stroke at the age of 52. He’s recovering, thankfully. The first person I notified was Anabel. She came to the hospital and put on a great show of support, but as soon as we were alone, she’d say charming things like, “You should rest — oh, wait, you’d better not. I don’t think I could pull your big butt out of the chair.” After three days of being belittled and abused by her, I had a breakdown at the hospital. The nurses told Anabel to leave and not return unless another family member was with her.

She has tried to undermine everything regarding my husband’s after-stroke care. She brought him a pizza while he was in rehab, and I went ballistic. But here’s the kicker: When my husband and I arrived at his after-care rehab appointment, we saw Anabel coming out of the training room using a walker. We had no idea she’d been ill.

While my husband had therapy, I talked to Anabel, and she finally confessed that she’d nearly died a year before. When I asked why she hadn’t told anyone, she simply shrugged. I told her she would have been furious if I hadn’t notified her of my husband’s stroke. Later, she told the rest of the family I was a monster and had stopped my husband from coming to see her.

I no longer wish to have any contact with Anabel. My husband is cordial to her, and she thinks this gives her carte blanche to keep babbling about how horrible we are. Other than ignoring her and the rest of this miserable breed, can you think of any other way to deal with the situation? — No Name, Please

Dear No Name: You had a slight opportunity to improve things by showing Anabel some sympathy about her condition, but we understand that you were too upset to do so. Her abusive personality and your anger make it unlikely that you two will find common ground. However, she is your husband’s sister, and he apparently wants to maintain contact. Please allow him to do so, and remove yourself from the equation by staying away whenever possible.

Dear Annie: I’ve been with my boyfriend for a decade. We have children together and jointly own cars, a house and a business. I’ve been pushing the issue of marriage for three years. So far, he won’t budge. I’ve given him deadlines and ultimatums, and still nothing.

I love him dearly, and I know he loves me, too, but I’m at the end of my rope. What should I do? — N.C.

Dear N.C.: Honey, you haven’t given him deadlines and ultimatums. You’ve given him empty threats and let him off the hook. Either accept the situation as it is, or leave. Find out whether your 10-year union is protected legally under common-law marriage statutes. Talk to a lawyer about child support and your business entanglements. When he knows you are truly serious about leaving, he may offer marriage, but don’t count on it. You should act according to what you think is best for you, and not because you are trying to manipulate him.


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