Annie's Mailbox for March 5, 2011: Sister-in-law's reaction unforgivable

Dear Annie: My brother was scheduled for open-heart surgery involving three different procedures. I hadn't seen him for several months and wanted to visit before the operation, as I feared he might not make it through.

The day before his surgery, my wife and I were driving the two-hour trip to his home when we received a call from his wife. She said she didn't want us coming, that she was already stressed out and didn't want anyone else using up the time she and her children had with my brother. I told her how much it meant to me to see him, but she said, "Don't bother coming. My children and I don't want you here."

My sister-in-law has always been a strong-headed woman, but this was too much. Our conversation turned into a shouting match. I was so angry and upset that I could hardly drive the car back home. I told my wife that what she did was unforgivable and I would never speak to her again.

Fortunately, my brother's surgery was a success, and he is recovering. I will see him as soon as I can, but only when his wife is not around. I will never get over what she did. How would you handle this?

— Angry in NYC

Dear Angry: Your sister-in-law may not have dealt with this very kindly, but try to see it from her perspective. She thought her husband might die and wanted his children to have every second of his remaining time. She was under a great deal of stress, and your needs didn't come into consideration. If you prefer to avoid her for the rest of your life, that's up to you, but we're sure your brother would appreciate it if you could somehow forgive her.

Dear Annie: My sister is almost 50 years old and still picks her nose in public. When I am with her, it is very embarrassing. She uses a tissue, but nonetheless shoves her fingers up her nose. It is not subtle.

I've told her to stop doing this and to blow her nose like a normal person, but she doesn't listen. I know she often is alienated from co-workers, and I suspect this bad habit may be causing her to miss job-related opportunities. Maybe if you print this, she will listen to you.

— Picky's Sister

Dear Picky: Constant nose picking can be an obsessive-compulsive disorder triggered by stress. Or it could be that her nose itches a lot. Or she may have sinus problems, in which case using a saline spray might help. But some habits are so ingrained, they are done unconsciously. In order for your sister to stop sticking her fingers up her nose, she will have to be aware that she's doing it and want to stop. At the very least, she should do it in private. It is not an attractive process to watch.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Illinois," whose husband wants to keep their dog, "Buddy," even though he doesn't get along with their other four dogs and they are expecting a baby soon. I am a dog trainer and am always amazed at people who have numerous dogs and expect all of them to get along. That notion is totally insane. It would be like having five people with five different personalities living together 24/7.

As much as the husband loves this dog, for everyone's sake, Buddy should be placed in a home where HIS needs are met. A multiple-dog home is simply not it. And in doing what is best for Buddy, it also is absolutely best for everyone involved. Otherwise, they are asking for some serious consequences for both the humans and the other dogs.

— Dallas, Ore.

Dear Dallas: We appreciate the professional backup and agree that Buddy would be better off elsewhere — and so would the rest of the family.

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