Stress of pandemic changes beloved sister’s personality

Published 8:45 am Thursday, April 22, 2021

DEAR ABBY: My sister and I are best friends. She has always been caring, empathetic and passionate about helping others. Now, however, COVID has turned her into a real piece of work.
Since the pandemic began, she has become increasingly selfish. She interrupts other people’s conversations to talk about herself and complains nonstop about how COVID has ruined her life, as if the rest of us weren’t experiencing this too.
She shouts hysterically at me when the Wi-Fi stops working and refuses to volunteer for the most basic household tasks. At first I tried to be patient because I understand it’s a reaction to an incredibly stressful time in her life. However, after 10 monster months of this, I’m at my wits’ end.
We live together, go to college together and share the same friends. How can I tolerate her self-centeredness until the pandemic is finally over? And what if this new version of her never goes away? — IRKED IN IDAHO

DEAR IRKED: I wonder if the friends you share with your sister are having the same reaction as you are to being interrupted and having their conversations hijacked. If the answer is yes, a group intervention may jolt her back to reality and help her recognize how obnoxious it is.
As to the rest of your complaints about her behavior, the next time she comes screaming to you about the Wi-Fi failing, tell her you’ll be glad to help IF she agrees to pull her share of the workload around the apartment. It goes without saying that when you can make other living arrangements — perhaps in the fall — you find a roommate more compatible than your sister. If you do, your relationship with her may improve because you will be exposed to her less often.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have two children. We have been married for 14 years, the last six of which have been sexless and loveless. We tried counseling, and I have threatened divorce, but nothing has changed.
After I finally realized that I couldn’t change him, I changed myself. I started stepping out and having sexual relations with other men. He recently found out about my affairs but hasn’t said a word about it to me. I’m to the point that I wish he would confront me and divorce me, but he acts like nothing is wrong in our marriage! I’m confused. What do you recommend I do next? — LOOKING AHEAD IN KANSAS

DEAR LOOKING AHEAD: It’s time to decide what YOU want to happen. Do you want a divorce? Is the status quo acceptable to you? If it’s the latter, do nothing different than you have been doing. However, if it isn’t, talk to your husband about what you are thinking.
You need to figure out why the change in your marriage happened and if it can be fixed. He may have become impotent or have someone he is seeing on the side. If it’s possible to repair your marriage, counseling would be an option. However, if it’s not, it might be healthier for both of you to talk to a lawyer and arrange an amicable divorce.
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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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