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Why won’t my husband push back against his ignorant sister? Ask Ellie

Q: My apparently loving husband drops everything when I need him … help with our kids, problems at my work, etc.

We have two beautiful girls — one, 17, is mine from a previous relationship. My husband and I met when she was eight years old.

We married three years later and had another daughter. I believe that he’s no different to either girl. Nothing seems to faze/bother him.

My problem arises when we’re with his family. They’re mostly great, except about one topic.

My older daughter’s allergic to peanuts. Over the past 10 years when this subject is raised, I get agitated. My sister-in-law believes that schools shouldn’t accommodate children with peanut allergies.

I was initially taken aback and didn’t confront her, nor did my husband. Periodically, she’s stated her opinion rudely and matter-of-factly.

I stand my ground without losing my temper. My husband says nothing!

My brother-in-law says that he agrees with his wife, and I’m left visibly upset, feeling personally attacked.

They’re talking about the safety of children. My grown daughter understands her allergy but when she was little, I was terrified to send her to school!

My sister-in-law has very strong, strange opinions and is a “poor-me” person.

I still try to like her because we’re family. And I fear I’ll someday lose my temper at her. But I also feel like I’m betraying my daughter.

And I’m so disappointed in my husband’s silence, it’s making me love and respect him less!

I’ve requested that he speak up. He doesn’t, though he’s stood up for less-worthy causes.

How do I make them understand how hurtful/upsetting their comments are? Does it show a lack of love for us on my husband’s side?

A: The serious risks from your daughter’s peanut allergy have been lessened (though not ended) by her maturing to understanding and knowledge. You’re left with two other problems.

1. Ignorance of those who don’t see the necessity for schools’ help in saving children’s lives from this potential disaster.

With so many other safe foods available for school lunches or treats, having the support and caring of school boards and those who daily interact with allergic children, it’s a no-brainer. For naysayers, it’s either meanness or distorted politics.

Leave the room/gathering when your sister-in-law spouts her contrary opinions. If she persists, it’s to purposefully annoy you.

2. Your husband’s on the wrong side here. He thinks he’s being fair to all or avoiding a major family rift. He’s wrong, hurting those who matter most — you and your daughter.

If you both can’t change the topic, both walk out, calmly, every time. Your quiet disdain and visual togetherness is very needed for your marriage as well as your daughter’s respect.

The Food Allergy Canada website says it plainly: Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds/minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to, such as peanuts or bee stings.

Feedback Regarding the man still angry about his wife’s long-past cheating (Nov. 8):

Reader: “Why should she apologize? He’s the one who cannot forget the past. Whenever he raises it, she may wonder if she made the right decision to stay married.

“She’s trying to resolve a problem marriage. She hasn’t asked him to apologize for what he did/didn’t do to make her wander. She’s moving forward to improve her marriage.

“He should consider his future maybe if she tires of his ‘need-to-know’ and returns to her past love.”

Ellie: A “mutual apology” could clear the mutual hurts, between them.

Ellie’s tip of the day

All family members should know the risks for someone living with a peanut allergy.

Ellie Tesher is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected]