Brother’s blowups hit home & work

Dear Abby: I have a brother I can’t seem to get along with anymore. Sometimes he’s OK, but most of the time he’s not. I visited him recently for a cookout, and it wasn’t good. He got into an argument with his wife, shattered a glass, tried to fight me out of the blue, and talked about extremist topics — all in front of his young, impressionable kids. I worry about his three boys and want to have a serious talk with him about getting some therapy.

The problem is, we work together. Although we have different shifts, I see him and his team almost daily at meetings, and our teams are already polarized. How can I confront him without making our careers suffer? He is not receptive to confrontation, and it may cause a serious rift. — Frustrated Brother in the South

Dear Brother: Could your brother have a drinking or drug problem that would account for his volatility, or has he always been this way? Political differences are one thing; shattering a glass and becoming violent during something as mundane as a cookout is worrisome. Have you talked to his wife about how long this has been going on? His behavior could present a danger to her and the kids.

Because there are serious differences between your team and his at work, the person who should logically “referee” is your supervisor or boss; what’s going on isn’t healthy for the business. Your brother is entitled to his political opinions, but if he’s a danger to others, there needs to be an intervention. If he raises a fist to you or his family, the police should be called.

Dear Abby: This woman keeps texting my husband. Her husband died last year, and she has been staying in contact with my husband. I know he initiates the messaging most of the time. He also deletes her messages.
Our husbands grew up together but kept in touch only twice a year. They would call each other on their birthdays. Now this woman and my husband text every day, and you know what that is all about. She’s lonely, and he thinks he needs to “console” her.

Well, Abby, I don’t like it! I can’t stop it. If I say anything, he gets defensive. To me, that’s a sign of guilt, and his deleting the messages is another sign of guilt. He has to have his ego stroked. He’s a classic narcissist, and it’s his way or the highway. I’m desperate for answers. Please help. — Angry in the East

Dear Angry: The widow keeps texting your husband because he is encouraging it. I agree with you that the conversations have gone beyond “condolences,” or he wouldn’t delete the messages. In a situation like this it’s important you take steps to protect your investment in your marriage.

Gather all of the financial information you can and have a private chat with a lawyer about what your rights are as a wife in the state in which you live. Once you have done that, confront your narcissistic spouse and tell him you feel what’s going on is a threat to your marriage.

Tell him you want it stopped immediately, and the two of you must get marriage counseling either with your religious adviser or a licensed marriage and family therapist. Perhaps once he realizes there could be a stiff price to pay for his “condolences,” he may see the light.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at

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