You are not obligated to bail out your in-laws

I am married to a wonderful man who loves my kids and me very much. Since the first of our five children was born, I’ve stayed home to raise them. The problem is his family.

Dear Annie: I am married to a wonderful man who loves my kids and me very much. Since the first of our five children was born, I’ve stayed home to raise them. The problem is his family.

My husband’s brother has been in and out of jobs, jail and rehab his entire life. Several months ago, he was hurt on the job and has been fighting to get workers compensation.

Since he currently has no job and no money, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law think we should contribute to pay his rent, which is about $600 a month.

Annie, we cannot afford this. We have five kids and our own expenses. We live comfortably, but we don’t have a lot to spare.

Another of my husband’s brothers recently asked us for a loan of several thousand dollars. We already loaned this brother money a few years ago and have yet to see a dime paid back.

Is it just me, or is it wrong of my in-laws to ask us to help support my 51-year-old brother-in-law, who is also an alcoholic and drug user? All these requests for money are causing a rift between my husband and me. Please help. — Bad Daughter-in-Law

Dear DIL: No, you do not have to help your grown relatives out of their own jams, especially when they have proved to be poor risks in the past.

However, this is your husband’s family, and he apparently wants to continue giving to the cause.

Discuss it calmly with him so he can understand that his family members are taking advantage of his generous nature. If he still insists on loaning money to his brothers, put aside a specific amount that you can afford to lose, and let him do with it as he pleases. It is not worth wrecking your marriage over this.

Dear Annie: I am a 66-year-old woman, married 42 years, and I can’t take the clutter in my house anymore.

My husband saves everything — including the corners he tears off of envelopes. Our spare bed always has papers on it, as does the top of the dresser.

I can’t store sheets or blankets in the drawers, because he has too much junk in there. Wherever there is a place to put anything, he does.

One day when I got mad, he said, “I guess I will have to move into the basement.” He would never consider getting rid of the accumulated junk. What do I do? — All Cluttered Up

Dear Cluttered: You’ve been putting up with this for 42 years? We’re impressed with your forbearance.

It sounds as if your husband is suffering from a form of obsessive-compulsive behavior. If he recognizes the problem, he may allow you to throw things away for him.

Dear Annie: I truly felt the pain of “Sad at Christmas.” For years, I bought gifts, organized parties and put up decorations, and often my family totally forgot me. One day, while looking at family pictures, I realized I wasn’t in any of them because I was always the one snapping the photographs.

The following year, I chose one family member to be in charge. I then booked a cruise and spent the holidays in the Caribbean dancing under the stars and meeting wonderful people, including a wonderful man from England who is still in my life.

I didn’t miss my family at all.

Now I look forward to the holidays, and this year will be my seventh cruise. I come home relaxed, happy and ready to start the new year. I highly recommend it. — Loving Christmas

Dear Loving: Good for you for finally finding a way to enjoy the holidays.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.