My three daughters, all very accomplished academically and athletically, attend the same university - the two eldest in law school, the youngest in her freshman year. My oldest daughter has always struggled with resentment towards her next sister, believing that everything comes easily and more naturally to her.
Now, she’s furious that her sister will be attending the same law school. The oldest girl was only accepted to this one, while her sister was accepted to three others. She’s chosen this school as she’s already spent four years there, and is a varsity athlete training with the national team there.
But the eldest insists that her sister must go elsewhere. I’ve tried to broker peace, and she’s angry with me too. I’m wondering if she should talk with a psychologist. She accuses me of "always" siding with her sister. I don't believe this is true. Is she being unreasonable?
- Worried Mom
There’s years of sibling rivalry feelings here, so no simple answer will counter your daughter’s perceptions. The strength and stubbornness of her attitude is a cry for help. She could be heading toward an emotional breakdown, over fears of being overshadowed by her middle sister.
And by focusing on her anxieties and jealousy, instead of her studies, she might sabotage her own success. Tell her you understand how she’s feeling; do NOT argue against her belief that her sister’s made the wrong choice.
Ask her to discuss this with a therapist for her own sake, not to accommodate the family. It’s possibly to everyone’s advantage for the middle girl to consider moving away next year.
Does a husband of 22 years have a right to privacy on his cellphone and email when he’s previously been caught cheating? I’d like to find out if he’s been chatting/texting/emailing the girlfriends with whom he got caught. He was asked to stop contacting them.
Suspicious snooping does NOT keep a marriage intact. If he’s a committed player, it’ll become apparent without you degrading yourself. Decide ahead how worthwhile it is to stay together, and how long you’re willing to live with distrust. NOTE: Read the following question about others’ approach.
My wife had an affair for the past three years. I’d thought we had a solid, loving marriage despite busy careers and busy lives with teenage children. She claims there was no sex with the other man, but she loved him.
She also says she still loves me and is committed to fixing our marriage. I made “no contact” a requirement of our staying together. That was six weeks ago. She thinks of him often and struggles without him.
We’ve progressed with our relationship but how do I move on from constant fear that she’ll break her promise? How does she get him out of her life?
- Shaky Time
You’re on the right path of open discussion, agreements, and progress. But you both need to understand more about this “emotional” affair to get past it. It’s not about the details of what they did, but what she was seeking with him, and missing in your life together.
All affairs have an element of escape from the responsibilities and pressures of lives as busy as yours. You both may need to scale back time demands to leave room for self-restoration and relaxation, as well as couples’ time.
Together, think of what brought you into this union; then, try to show that same earlier interest in each other as individuals, not just as household partners and parents.
Thanks to your advice (August 19 column), I did talk to my counsellor about why I was so angry at my in-laws. I realized I was taking out anger and frustration about other things on them, because I couldn't get mad at my illness, my husband or our son’s health issues.
Realizing that, changed everything. Sometimes, they’re out of line, but that's who they are. I can't change them. But I can change my reactions. On my therapist's advice I set aside half-an-hour a week to be angry at them.
It's been two weeks and I haven't used it at all; it felt wasteful. I also realize my in-laws are not that bad. I should always treat them with respect and kindness and am sorry I didn’t.
- No Longer Sick of It
Congratulations! Gaining insight into your contribution to a relationship problem is a maturing, healing, and forgiving process.
Tip of the day:
Extreme sibling rivalry should signal a need for professional help.