Dear Abby: I have a younger sister I love dearly. I respect and admire her. “Elise” is intelligent and talented. She is a minister’s wife and a mother to small children. Due to some unfortunate family circumstances when she was young, she has some emotional scars she’s trying to overcome. Sometimes at family gatherings she’ll “explode” and lash out at whoever triggered her. Her outbursts usually take us all by surprise.
How do we, as siblings who have grown up in the same environment, handle this? We don’t think our childhoods so terrible, although we did have some challenges, and our daddy does have narcissistic tendencies. He actually recognizes that and is trying to improve himself. Sometimes we feel she makes mountains out of molehills, but we want to be sensitive to her pain. I’m concerned she’ll end up controlling our family gatherings in a negative way if these flare-ups don’t stop. What do you think could be done? — Befuddled Big Sis
Dear Big Sis: What could (and should) be done is an intervention by you and your siblings in which Elise is advised to seek professional help for her explosive anger issues. If she refuses and her behavior continues, let her know you support her but can no longer include her.
Dear Abby: My husband’s personality changes completely when he drinks, and not for the better. He brags, repeats himself and presents in a way that’s annoying and embarrassing. His alcohol personality will never change — it is who he is. He’s been like this for the entire 13 years I’ve been with him.
He drinks two to three times a week, at most, and says I “overreact” to his personality change. He tells me I shouldn’t get so frustrated, but I don’t want to be around my husband when he drinks. Can you advise me how to live with him when he’s drunk? By the way, it doesn’t take much for him to get this way — three beers. Could he be having a reaction to the alcohol? — Fed Up In San Diego
Dear Fed Up: That’s possible. Some individuals are more sensitive to alcohol than others. Whether it takes three beers or simply sniffing a cork to get your husband loaded, his drinking is causing a problem in your marriage.
It’s time for you to locate a chapter of Al-Anon (al-anon.org) and attend some of the meetings. This organization was created decades ago to help the friends and family members of people who have an alcohol problem — which your husband definitely has. You are far from alone in having this problem, which you will realize once you get there. Please don’t wait. Your reaction to his personality change is understandable.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles,CA 90069 or visit