Dear Annie: My brother-in-law, "Travis," has been in a relationship with his girlfriend, "Kristin," for eight years. They now have two young children. Kristin has cheated on him too many times to count and continues to do so. They fight about it constantly.
The problem is that Travis is so wrapped up in what Kristin is doing with various other men that both of them have put their children on the back burner. At the moment, the kids are living with Kristin's parents. Kristin says the kids are the most important thing to her, but she definitely doesn't show it. She's only a mom when it's convenient for her. And Travis is the same way.
Travis is being treated for depression due to his relationship, but, Annie, he is never going to change her into the woman he wants. He refuses to leave her, saying he wants to keep his "family" together, but they are hardly together as it is. I don't see how this is good for the kids.
Travis isn't innocent, either. He can't keep a job because he would rather "babysit" Kristin. He is lazy and thinks the world owes him something. The two of them have tried counseling apart and together, but they never stick with it.
As a family, we don't know what to do. We've talked to Travis until we are blue in the face. Why can't he see that this is a toxic relationship? How do we get him to care more about his children instead of their poor excuse for a mother? -- Worried Family
Dear Worried: Travis and Kristin have a co-dependent relationship that is going nowhere. And it will continue until one of them decides he or she has had enough. You cannot make this happen. Instead, please concentrate on those kids. Neither parent is fit to raise them. Are Kristin's parents providing a stable home life? Can you spend more time with the children, taking them out on weekends? Your goal should not be to provide Travis with a better marriage. It should be to help care for those children so they can grow up to be more mature than their parents.
Dear Annie: My sister and I are estranged. Our father is in his 80s, and although I have no need to be friends with my sister, I would like us to be able to sit in the same room together for my father's sake.
I do not understand why we have never gelled. My sister says it's because I am jealous of her. I feel we are on different planets. And if her expectation of our relationship is not met, she thinks we cannot have any relationship at all. I wish only the best for my sister, but whenever we get together, it is ugly.
Should I continue to push for family time even though I don't want to be alone with her? My father seems OK with things as they are, but I'm a parent now, too, and I would be devastated if this were the situation with my kids. -- No Family Time
Dear Family: We think your father would rather see you individually than watch things get "ugly" in front of him. Would you and your sister consider counseling together? Unless the two of you can work out some kind of detente for Dad's sake, it might be best to leave things as they are.
Dear Annie: I read with amusement the letter from "Santa Cruz," the lesbian who objected to the way she was stared at in foreign restrooms.
I have short hair, rarely wear makeup and have also been treated rudely abroad. It never occurred to me that it was an issue of sexual orientation, because I am straight. I assumed it was because I wear comfortable shoes, look people in the eye and act more assertively than women of that culture.
Your advice to be polite and charming is spot on and works non-verbally, as well. -- Also from Santa Cruz
"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2017. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.