Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

My brother-in-law, 42, is having a new house built. In the meantime, he’s staying with us. He holds down a good job and is helpful in every way. Still, he goes out drinking on weekends, comes home under the influence, and insists on getting into long, one-sided conversations. Sometimes he’s sloppily sentimental. Other times, he’s vehement about nothing. Sometimes he tells lewd stories and laughs uproariously. 

He doesn’t get into trouble or drive under the influence, and we don’t think he remembers his monologues the next day. Still, my husband and I are starting to lose patience with him.

What shall we do?


Sober in Sinola

Dear Sober,

As the late great entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. once said, “Alcohol gives you infinite patience for stupidity.”

Next time your brother-in-law ties one on and gets behind his imaginary podium for a filibuster, discreetly take out your phone, tap the voice memo app, and record him.

The next day, when he’s sober, you and your spouse can play it back to him without saying a word. Use a Bluetooth speaker for the best effect.

Whatever his reaction, use the opportunity to speak to him about his drinking gently. If he can’t cut down on his own, tell him he can only stay under your roof if he gets the help he needs.

Alcohol is the third most addictive substance on earth. It comes in just behind heroin and cocaine. That’s why so many people have problems quitting. If he hadn’t come to stay with you, you might have never known he had a problem. This awkward situation gives you a chance to establish boundaries while providing compassion and support.

Here’s to a turning point,


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