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Ask Ellie: Brother's husband's cold shoulder a mystery

Dear reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter, Lisi, will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions.

Dear reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter, Lisi, will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions. — Ellie

Dear Lisi — My brother’s husband is a successful doctor, who came to accept his own identity and sexuality later in life, after marrying a woman and having a family. His adult children are fantastic people, living healthy lives with children of their own.

Fortunately, his ex-wife and his children are all accepting of my brother and their union. They are an incredibly interesting and inclusive blended family.

But oddly, I don’t feel accepted by them. None of them are very welcoming to me or my wife. I’ve asked my brother about this; he agrees and has noticed it too. But when he brings it up with his husband, the latter acts like he doesn’t know what my brother is talking about.

What can we do?

Left out sib

I’m sorry, but there’s not enough information in your letter to really have any good idea of where the problem lies. Your brother sounds like he’s in a good place with a man who loves him; he’s been accepted into a large family; his life is good. Why this family has chosen not to accept you is anyone’s guess.

Can you look back and really think about any incident that might have occurred that may have caused some offence or friction? Would it be possible to ask someone other than your brother’s husband? Maybe he doesn’t want to get in the middle.

Good luck in figuring this out. But for your brother’s sake, if you don’t find an answer, don’t push too hard. Maintain a healthy relationship with him, which it sounds like you have, and keep the peace.

Reader’s commentary and followup regarding the family who thought they were getting a small dog but ended up with a big dog (June 1):

“Regarding the one-income family living in a small home with their two little children and the dog they were scammed about into believing was a small dog. It would be in the best interest of everyone — including the dog — if they found a loving home where the people could give it plenty of exercise in their yard and have the skills to handle a large dog.

“Then a small friendly dog could be purchased for the children. Less work and easier to handle for everyone.

“Hiring a dog walker is not enough because a dog like this is powerful and needs a good run every day. Also, for a small house it’s a lot of dog.

“There’s nothing wrong in finding a new home for this dog and explaining to the children that it will get a home that’s more fitted for it and, in turn, they’ll find the right dog for them. A large dog without enough exercise, stimulation and the right training can be an accident waiting to happen.”

Lisi – You’re correct that a large dog without enough exercise, etc. is a ticking time bomb. I received a lot of feedback about this column, with most people agreeing with you that the family should give the dog away.

Sometimes, life has beautiful endings. In this case, the daughter wrote to tell me that, after reading my column and the subsequent feedbacks, she was determined to keep the dog. By pure coincidence, her husband landed a well-paying job, and they were able to move into a larger home with a big yard — and her mother is now living with them as well!

Dear Lisi — I need help and fast! My boyfriend and I made a plan to help build schools in a developing country this summer. We were gifted the plane tickets by our church, and the organization gives us room and board there. We’ve been planning the trip since Christmas, and both worked during the year to earn spending money.

Now we’ve broken up and I don’t know what to do! It’s too late to bail on the trip, but I’m not sure I can handle spending the summer with him.

I still love him; he broke up with me.


This isn’t going to be the summer you expected, but it could be better. You must gather all your strength and maturity and hold your head high. You have a purpose to your travel. Focus your energy into the activity. No doubt you’ll meet loads of other people in the group.

Give your ex-boyfriend space. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected].

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