Dear Amy: I have not spoken to my brother, who's now very ill, in a long time. (We text occasionally.) His life has been nothing but chaos ever since I can remember.
Most of his problems are the result of very bad decisions on his part. My mother knows how I feel about all of this yet continues to confide in me about everything my brother is going through.
My mother says she doesn't have anyone to talk to. She says she is tired of hearing about my brother's troubles but continues to listen and then tell me.
She is 75 and not in good health. Was I right to tell her that I cannot listen any longer to my brother's problems because of how it is affecting me?
I told her that she has a choice about listening to this. I said she should tell my brother that it upsets her and ask him to stop sharing details about his life.
— Opting out
Dear Opting Out: You'll have to understand that your mother may feel that the only way she can mother your brother is to give him a sounding board about his troubled life.
Forbidding your mother to talk to you about this is cutting off an important source of potential comfort for her, but if this is the only way you can cope, then you were right to do so.
Dear Amy: I recently married my best friend. We have been together as a couple for four years and rarely argued before we got married. Now he says I have changed from the girl he fell in love with. I started my first real job and have extra money, so I sometimes get my nails and hair done. He accused me of trying to "look good" for other men. No matter how many times I tell him that I am not interested in anyone else, he goes through my text messages and phone calls and accuses me of deleting stuff. None of this started until after we got married.
I love him, but I am worried that he accuses me because he is cheating on me. How should I approach this subject without losing him and starting an argument?
— Lost in love
Dear Lost: You can start by saying, "I love you and want to stay with you. I want to have a peaceful, fulfilling marriage. But I'm not a piece of property. If we cannot trust and respect one another, then we won't have much of a marriage."
A counselor could help you develop trusting habits and acceptable parameters. If he becomes more controlling, suspicious and jealous, you should not stay.
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