Dear Readers: Every year I step away from my daily column to work on other creative projects. I’ve gathered some topical “Best Of” columns from 10 years ago. (Some content has been lightly edited.) I’ll be back in two weeks with fresh columns.
Dear Amy: My sister and her husband have been married for almost 20 years. They have a volatile relationship, and say and do hurtful things to each other.
During a recent argument, my brother-in-law yelled obscenities at my sister and spit in her face twice because she was trying to ignore his ranting. He has also pulled her hair and pushed her.
She tries to stay calm and ignore him, which makes him angrier. She tries to keep the peace because of her two older teenagers who live at home.
I am afraid that someone will be injured, arrested, or even killed.
I am also upset that her children have grown up witnessing this. Both kids have anger issues.
Should our family talk to my brother-in-law? He can be a fun, nice guy.
We talked to my sister about getting professional help, but this has been going on for years.
She is funny, extremely well-liked and very attractive. I believe he is jealous of her. How can we help? — Worried Sibling
Dear Worried: Your family should advocate for your sister and the children by urging her to get help immediately and to leave this marriage safely. This situation is violent. Witnessing this has already affected the kids. Your family should do everything possible to protect them.
I read your letter to Cory Ryan, executive director of Connections for Abused Women and Their Children, in Chicago. She responds, “This is very alarming. It is a dangerous situation. It is important that this woman get help from people who will not judge her.
“Children who grow up in violent homes suffer trauma; there is a risk that they will become violent.
“Concerned friends or family members could call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for advice on how to address this and learn of local resources. This woman needs to have a safety plan and legal advocacy.”
Call the hotline at 800-799-SAFE, or visit thehotline.org.
Dear Amy: You regularly condone and even encourage sex without the benefit of marriage.
I wonder if you have ever considered how many of society’s problems can be traced back to this. Please consider for a moment what the world would be like if sex occurred only inside of marriage.
The number of unwanted pregnancies would be decimated. Abortion would be eliminated. Few, if any, children would grow up in a single-parent home. Imagine what would happen to the welfare system! What if almost everyone grew up in stable, two-parent homes? It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? — K
Dear K: Getting married does not prevent children from growing up in single-parent homes. People have been marrying and dissolving their marriages for a long time.
Many two-parent homes are unstable, and some stable families are led by two parents who, until recently, couldn’t legally marry.
Consenting adults can and will have sex regardless of what you (or I) say. It’s not my business, and as long as it doesn’t injure or harm anyone, involve the kids or break up another relationship or family, it shouldn’t be your business, either.
Dear Amy: I am a 32-year-old single woman with many married friends. Recently, I went to a concert with some couples, and also a married man who didn’t bring his wife.
In the back seat of a car on the way home, he tried to kiss me. I pulled away. The next day when he sent me an email saying he had a good time, I didn’t respond.
I saw him with his family at a recent dinner party. He said he wanted to have coffee sometime, and that he’d like to get to know me better. I was polite and hoped nothing would come of it, but he recently emailed me and asked to get a drink.
He is a nice person. I don’t want to assume he wants to have an affair. How do I respond? — Troubled Single
Dear Troubled: You say he’s a “nice person,” but nice (and married) men don’t try to force kisses on disinterested women in the back seats of cars, and nice men don’t do end runs around their wives and kids at a dinner party.
In those old movies I love, this guy would be called “a prize heel.”