Dear Annie: My wife’s brother-in-law, “Mike,” is the family character, always quick with a quip, just a fun-loving guy, seemingly without a care in the world. He has a few flaws, which are mostly tied to his excessive drinking, but they have always been overlooked, because, well, that’s just Mike.
Over the past few years, Mike has become a bit too clingy to my wife, shown by the longer than normal hugs, unrequested shoulder rubs, never missing a kiss goodbye. His actions of late have become more excessive and obvious. Additionally, these displays of affection are uniquely bestowed upon my wife and no one else in the family.
My wife is uncomfortable with the situation but does not want to confront Mike, both because she is not confrontational by nature and out of respect for her sister. She would prefer to grin and bear it and hope for the best. I believe Mike needs to be pulled aside and confronted directly, telling him exactly what he is doing that makes my wife uncomfortable, making sure he understands he is crossing the line with her and needs to stop.
Your thoughts on how we should best try and address this situation would be appreciated. We look forward to your response. – At a Loss with the Loveable Lush
Dear At a Loss: Is it possible that Mike’s intensifying inappropriate behavior toward your wife coincides with an intensifying drinking problem? Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and you never know what might be going on behind closed doors. Your wife could open a dialogue with her sister: ask how things have been at home, gently and without judgment express concern about Mike’s drinking. That’s one place to start.
Additionally, see if your wife would be OK with your trying to stop his unwanted advances before they start – such as by warmly walking him to the door while making chitchat before he can begin making his way to her for a goodnight kiss.
And continue to check in with her about how she’s feeling. Over time, she may grow more open to the idea of your speaking up.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]