Dear Annie: During our 12 years of marriage, my husband, "Bart," kept getting into credit-card debt, and I bailed him out three times. His explanations were never good, and Bart was secretive about his whereabouts and his mail. We tried counseling several months ago, but he lied to the therapist. When I called him on it, he quit going. We now live separate lives in separate parts of our home. The only time we are together is for public appearances and family gatherings.
Lately, I have begun to find pornography everywhere in our home. Twice I caught Bart at home in the middle of the day, watching X-rated videos. I am sure now that this is what he has been up to all along.
I filed for divorce two months ago, and Bart's grown children are shocked and want to know what happened. I keep telling them they need to talk to their father, but Bart tells them he has "no idea." He is either in denial or lying.
Bart is respected and well-liked in our community. He's a good person with a huge problem. What can I tell his children and friends? Caring in Kansas
Dear Caring: You don't need to tell them anything -- the details are not their business, especially since Bart is unwilling to admit he has a problem. Simply say you are not comfortable discussing it. There is a support group for family and friends of sex addicts that you might find useful: S-Anon International Family Groups (sanon.org), P.O. Box 111242, Nashville, Tenn. 37222-1242. For more information on sexual addiction, try the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (aasect.org), P.O. Box 5488, Richmond, Va. 23220-0488.
Dear Annie: I am a 24-year-old male, and my brother is 26. Recently, my family received invitations to my cousin's bat mitzvah party. My brother was invited, along with his girlfriend, whom he has been dating on and off for a year.
I am not currently in a relationship. Is it appropriate that my brother can take a guest and I cannot? Should I be permitted to take someone even if it is just a friend?
I fear I will have no one to dance with except my mother. Solo at the Simcha
Dear Solo: Since your brother is in a long-term relationship, it is appropriate to invite his girlfriend. Most families cannot afford to allow their single guests to take friends along. Although it usually is rude to ask if you can take a date, because you are a close relative and you are not likely to meet eligible single women at the affair, we think it's OK in this instance. If your aunt and uncle say "no," we hope Mom is a good dancer. Wish your cousin a mazel tov from us.
Dear Annie: I recently moved into a new home and was looking forward to inviting my family for Christmas dinner. My sister and three nieces and nephews live across the state and planned to drive here to share the holiday with the rest of us.
The day before the dinner, I got a message on my answering machine that no one was coming. My nephew's girlfriend's daughter was having an appendectomy, and my sister's dog was sick. Those flimsy excuses distressed me greatly, because I planned and cooked for 17 people.
I'm very upset with these relatives, and I think they were pretty tactless. Should I bring it up again or forget about it? Minus Four People in Florida
Dear Minus Four: Forget about it. Those excuses are not as flimsy as you think. For most people, leaving a sick dog is the same as leaving a sick child. And if your nephew is planning a future with this girlfriend and her daughter, he wouldn't want to desert them during a major operation. We know you're disappointed, but try to forgive them.
XE-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.