Dear Abby: He’d rather hang with his brother than his wife

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 12 years. Things are generally good, but we keep having the same old argument related to his little brother.

They have a close relationship, which is great, but I often end up feeling like I’m playing second fiddle to my brother-in-law. If I ask my husband to go out and do something on the weekend, he’ll say he doesn’t feel like it. Minutes later, if his brother makes the same suggestion, he’s up and getting ready to go! Sometimes I end up along for the ride, which lessens the sting a little, but usually I’m left alone.

It wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that I don’t have family close by, and I’m the agency lead where I work, so having “work friends” isn’t an option. This leaves my husband the only person I have to spend time with.

I have tried explaining this to him, but when I try, he overreacts and claims I don’t want him to spend any time with his brother, which is not what I’m saying. I have begun to feel that he’s honest with me when he says no to something, but just can’t bring himself to say no to his brother. Either way, it’s exhausting and ridiculous.

Is there any way to address this, or do I just deal with the sting when it happens and let it go? — COMPETING FOR ATTENTION

DEAR COMPETING: If you and your husband haven’t blocked out some time each week to spend together — a date night — you should. While I don’t think it’s healthy for you to be entirely dependent upon him for social contact, I do think you should be higher on his list of priorities than his brother.

Because you have already discussed this and seem to have gotten nowhere, please consider finding some other social outlets so you aren’t so isolated. Special interest groups or hobbies come to mind.

DEAR ABBY: I was waiting in line to get a cup of coffee and the customer behind me was so close she was almost touching me. Then she coughed without covering her mouth. I stepped away, but she closed in on me and coughed again without covering.

I turned and politely asked her to step back and cover her mouth the next time she coughed. She said she had an allergy and not a cold. I suggested that because we are in the midst of cold and flu season, there’s no way that I — or anyone else — could know the difference between a cough from allergy or illness.

Was it rude on my part? Or should we all practice some courtesy by covering our mouths when we cough or sneeze? — RUDE IN MINNESOTA

DEAR RUDE: What you said was not rude; it was common sense. The notion that if you don’t think you’re sick (“only allergic”), you have the right to cough on others is misguided.

When you asked the woman not to hover near you, she should have respected your request, stepped back and not closed in again whether or not she continued to cough.

Flu season is in full swing. That’s why it’s important for everyone who is out in public — and exposed — to practice good hygiene.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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