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Direct Answers 'Column for the week of September 8, 2003

When is it time to divorce a family member?

I've been helping my partner manage his father's long-term care. This entails working with his brother who controls the purse strings. My partner and I are both artists, juggling multiple careers to realize our life work and get the bills paid. Our income is limited.

My partner's brother is a self-made multimillionaire with multiple homes and his own private jet. We give what we can in terms of love, support, and managing round-the-clock care. The brother attempts to make us feel guilty by saying it is normal for all siblings to contribute financially and why aren't we.

I found this man disgusting, repulsive, and nauseating when I first met him 12 years ago, and I feel exactly the same way now. I have always pretended to have a good time and to love him, which adds my dishonesty to the picture.

The brother is about to limit how much money he contributes for his father's care. He will loan his father the rest. Once the equity is drained from the home and his father becomes indigent, the brother will provide the resources to take care of him.

My partner is at peace that inheritance isn't part of his future, but my life is thrown entirely off balance and I end up with many sleepless nights. What bothers me is the distortion of reality. I communicate with my partner's brother in writing, but he consistently misrepresents what I've written to him.

When I resend the information again and again, he claims it never happened or continues to misrepresent what I said. I showed the correspondence to a neutral third party, and she confirmed my perceptions.

This man does not appear to be conscious of his distortions and really believes his lies are true. We've tried telephone communication, but it is simply too traumatizing for both my partner and me to talk with him on the phone.

My counselor of many years has advised terminating the relationship, and my partner is also considering this. What do you think?


Marc, the first time you meet an individual who tells you up is down, right is left, and good is bad, it stuns you. You question your own judgment. But there are some people who will look you straight in the eye and lie.

Because you operate from a basis of honesty and integrity, you are dumbfounded that there is not some appeal to goodness or some line of reasoning which will get through to your partner's brother. But there isn't.

Believe the evidence of your own eyes. This man operates from the principle that he always gets to have his own way. You don't need to understand why he is that way. You need only accept how he is.

Your father-in-law is going to be taken care of financially, and that is a wonderful thing. You asked when it is time to divorce a family member. The answer in your case is it was time about 11 years ago.

Wayne & Tamara

Innocence Lost

I caught my husband cheating over a year and a half ago. We have worked things out meanwhile and even bought our first home. What is eating me up every day is always wondering if he will ever do this again.

I asked him today if there was someone else, and indirectly he never answered my question. I feel so lost and insecure. What should I do to get past this?


Donna, the difficulty with staying with a cheater is you have to believe they won't do again what they were not supposed to do in the first place. The first time your husband cheated he took away your ability to believe he is faithful.

We can't tell you how to get past this. With this man you can only look out for your own best interests.


About the Author
Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at

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