Ask Amy: Should I tell my sister her upstanding husband was kicked out of poker group for stealing?

Dear Amy: My brother-in-law (my sister’s husband) was a county commissioner for four years in our town and county. His reputation is that of an upright and solid citizen.

Until recently, my brother-in-law was a member of a weekly poker playing group that my husband is familiar with. My husband knows the members of this group.

My husband was informed by another member of the group (who is also a fairly close friend of his) that my brother-in-law was banned from the group after being caught stealing chips.

Should I say anything about this to my sister, who may or may not already know?

– Torn About Telling

Dear Torn: Owing to my (limited) knowledge about poker, and having no details about this regular poker group, I can only offer the observation that stealing chips from other players is basically the same as stealing money from them.

Banning someone from the group would be the lesser of other legal consequences, but – if this episode happened at all – the group certainly has the right to make this choice.

However, given the fact that this story was passed from a friend to your husband to you, if you decided to pass this along to your sister it would be a fourth-hand story with many unanswered questions attached to it.

If your husband feels strongly that your sister should know about this, then he should tell her. If you feel strongly that she should be told, then you should ask him to tell her. He is at least one step closer to the source.

The essential question to ponder would be your brother-in-law’s motivation. If he needs or wants money so badly that he is willing to try to steal from friends, then this could reveal serious personal issues that would have an impact on your sister.

Dear Amy: My wife and I, married for more than 48 years, have raised two wonderful children.

Our son, 39 and unmarried, is unlikely to ever have children.

Our married daughter is 34. Her and her husband’s intentions are unknown to us.

We struggled to get pregnant in the 1980s, and one thing we both regret is not sharing that struggle with our parents.

They did not press us about when they might become grandparents, but as we enter our early 70s, we better understand how it might have been kinder to inform them that we very much wanted to have children and were, shall we say, definitely working on it.

We have not asked our children their plans, and we don’t intend to.

I’m not really asking what to do here. This is more for those young people who might know what their intentions are but haven’t told their parents. Either way, I imagine most parents would be like us, loving their kids no matter what the decision.

It would just be nice to know.

– Been There

Dear Been There: Thank you for sharing your perspective about this.

Your family maintains strict and discrete boundaries around this deeply personal issue.

I respect your choice, but wonder if you have shared any details about your own experience with infertility – at least with your daughter.

You might be able to do so without it seeming like a, “So, when are we going to get some grandchildren” prompt.

Letting her know about your experience might make a difference regarding her own health care.

Try: “We struggled with fertility issues before you and your brother were born. We never discussed it with our folks, but we wish we had. We’re not bugging you for grandkids – but if you want to discuss anything with us, we hope you’ll feel comfortable enough to bring it up.”

Dear Amy: Responding to “Desperate Housewife,” who was trying to cope with her husband’s hoarding, I spent an entire year cleaning up my partner’s hoarding stash after he died.

I didn’t even realize how stressful it was to live with that stuff until it was gone.

My partner used to say he wanted to rent storage units for his treasures. In hindsight, I wish I had encouraged him. He could have packed up all his newspaper clippings, empty bottles and obsolete utility bills and saved me the trouble.

I loved him dearly and I have heard that hoarders are usually dealing with some kind of loss. I wish I had been able to help him with that, too.

– Missing Him

Dear Missing: Thank you for your compassionate response. However, it is important to note that many hoarders also outgrow their storage units.

You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

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