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I don't want to alienate my sister.

(6 Posts)
Jesuswepthelpmeadvise Sun 28-Aug-16 17:17:05

My sister phoned me this morning in bits over BIL.
BIL had an affair years ago which went on for a number of years, but it was based on sex and it ended when my sister found out about it. She has never really trusted him since then.
They have gone on to have 3 children and my sister has tried to put it behind her.
I have always supported her whatever decision she has made and I have always made BIL welcome. I have been careful not to say anything nasty about him in all of this time because my sister chose to work on the marriage and I didn't want to alienate her and they have gone on to have children who I love with all my heart.
During the marriage, BIL has been irresponsible financially and partly because of this, they have not been able to enjoy the lifestyle my sister wanted for her children. BIL can't be trusted with money but he has been better recently.
Over the last couple of years, my sister feels BIL has distanced himself from the family mentally and isn't as interested in the children or my sister as he used to be. He almost appears at times not to care. My sister also holds a lot of resentment that they are penny pinching as much as they are and she blames BIL for this.
She says BIL doesn't want to leave but she doesn't know if he loves her anymore or is just there because he likes the status quo.

Now she has found he is still being dishonest about how much money he has,and what he is spending it on. We are talking about small amounts of 10 or 20 pounds a week but my sister feels that isn't the point. Added to which,she has now discovered he took out a phone contract she knew nothing about. He has owned up when she confronted him.
He is the main earner and my sister will lose most of the income without him. He also does the main childcare at the weekend because he works so late during the week.
She has phoned me up in pieces and wants to know what to do to fix the marriage for the sake of the children and their financial security. She says she still loves him but she has an incredible amount of resentment towards him.
I have asked her to come over if she wants to talk and she has agreed to come over later today but I honestly don't know what to advise her.
I divorced 4 years ago and she doesn't always feel I understand how much she wants to work this out. I want to be supportive but it's difficult for me to see my sister being lied to and taken for a fool. I am on her side completely and I want her to see that.)
I know she wants to save the marriage. But how?
Am I misleading her by letting her believe it can be saved? She says she doesn't trust him at all and can't help but frequently bring up the affair and the mismanagement of money. The children adore their dad and are mostly unaware of the tensions. There is very little arguing or silent treatment. They just don't spend time together. It's all such a mess. I want to offer her some comfort. Some support.
Can anyone tell me he will change?
He's a lovely man if it weren't for these problems.

caffelatte100 Sun 28-Aug-16 17:23:25

Yep, that does not sound easy for your sister. I would say that they might benefit from couples counselling.

MsHaveNaiceHam Sun 28-Aug-16 17:26:35

No, he won't change. Why would he? She has already taught him that she will stay married regardless of what he does.

The only person she can change is herself....she has to decide if this is the role model that she wants for her DC.....an irresponsible man and an enabling woman.
Or,
will she find her strength, and face the fear (and I totally get the terror of being financially screwed WRT your children)

He's not a lovely man if he is behaving like this to the detriment of his children.
Sorry to be blunt.

For you: you're in an awful position.... all you can do is listen and hear her fear and humiliation.
But don't encourage her to think he'll change. Nothing she can say or do will make that happen.

pauldacreshairlessnutsack Sun 28-Aug-16 17:31:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jesuswepthelpmeadvise Sun 28-Aug-16 21:58:36

My sister has just left. She is very upset. I listened to her and poured wine. (She took a taxi home.)
She says she is tired of discovering lie after lie. Big ones, small ones. Says she has found it impossible to trust him fully since the affair and confided that she still needles him about it because she still doesn't trust him, despite it happening many years ago.
Added to that, he has been particularly frivolous with money and they both have a substantial amount of debt.
She has asked him if he wants to leave and said she would assist him packing if he wants to go but told him she would have to sell the house.
I don't think she knows what she would do then.
He has told her he doesn't want to leave and that he loves her but she says she doesn't feel loved by him because he has let her down so often in the past.
She thinks he loved her once, but doesn't know if he loves her anymore and says she has always been disappointed in how unsuccessful he has been in his career.
She wanted to marry someone who would look after her financially and he has failed to do so.
She says she doesnt want to split the family up because her children would be affected for life and she just wants to know how to get him to spend more time with her and the children and stop telling so many lies and hiding things from her.
She is just so unhappy but she lives for her children and wants to give them a secure future.
He works such long hours and is barely home and when he is home, it is to eat and sleep. She doesn't know where to begin.
She actually asked me if I thought he was cheating on her again to which I replied where would he find the time?
She is just so utterly disappointed in him and just needs him to sort himself out so they can move forward.
I advised her to talk to him about how she feels but she doesn't think there's much point.
I didn't really know what to say because as a previous poster said, I really don't want her to feel like she has to close ranks with him. I don't want her to feel she has no one to talk to.
She has spoken to his parents before about his behaviour but that just ended with her and his parents falling out.
I am sad to see her so upset but I don't know what to do, except be a listening ear and supply wine.
What else can I do?
What else can she do?

MsHaveNaiceHam Sun 28-Aug-16 22:40:42

People can lie with their words but not with their actions.

What he is saying and doing are not the same, are they? Where is the loving respect for his wife and the mother of his children and for himself?

She cannot change him. She will need to let go of the potential of him that she is clinging to....it'll be her choice whether she does that and stays with him or leaves. It's terrifying for her, no doubt.

What can you do? Nothing really, except to be a sounding board...try not to influence her either way.
She says she doesn't want to split up the family as the children will be affected for life- what she can't see now is that might be a good thing.

What can she do?
Look at her alternatives properly; and if she decides to stay, at least let it be a mindful decision rather than one taken out of fear of not managing alone.

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