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To want to talk to my brother about his girlfriend?

(41 Posts)
babyblabber Tue 10-May-16 12:08:25

I really need advice and apologies in advance, this will be long.

My brother is a lovely, shy, nerdy guy. He was bullied for years on school which we only found out about years later. He has been with his girlfriend for over 6 years, living together for 4. Full disclosure, the entire family find her annoying but that i can live with so long as she treats him well and make him happy and we have never been rude or let him know how we feel.

my issue is, she seems to have this pattern of getting hugely offended/digging her heels in at minor things and it is affecting him. she is very stubborn and convinces herself she is totally in the right and is fighting the good fight. i'm wondering if he is in for a lifetime of drama, feuds with neighbours, schools, anyone who looks at her sideways (which would really stress him out) and whether i should talk to him about maybe standing up to her if he wants to. but i don't want to butt in to their relationship. but i also want him to know it's ok for him to ask advice from his friends/family and not disloyal to her because i'm pretty sure he doesn't talk to anyone and she just rules the roost.

some examples of what i'm talking about to help explain:
- they were away for a weekend and got caught on public transport with the wrong ticket. instead of paying the fine and get on with their holiday she refused, saying they were tourists and it wasn't their fault. they were taken to the police station, there for 3 hours, passport details taken etc and are now afraid to return to the country in question ever again. she told me my brother chewed his nails right down till they bled while they were there. i know he would have been so stressed out. I would have loved for him to just insist they/he pay the fine as i know this is what he would have wanted to do.

- she can't drive and insists she doesn't have time to learn (she's a teacher and has good holidays). she has been saying this for years. he drives her everywhere and has mentioned in the past that it really annoys him that she won't even try to learn.

- they are house hunting they are looking only at brand new houses and she is refusing to even view anything else. Where we live there are very few new houses but loads of great houses in good condition, or houses that needs a lick of paint etc but she won't even consider them. they are looking at houses in a real miles away from work, family, friends etc and, she has said she doesn't care about location so long as the house is brand new. when i asked what did he want in a house she cut him off and said "he doesn't have any criteria". she also said "it's my house so i will decide" and then backtracked and said "well it's [brother]'s house too but i will be there all the time when we have kids". apart from anything else, financially he will be contributing the entire deposit (about 1/4 of the value of the house) and it sounds like he will be paying the mortgage too if she is going to quit work when they have kids. he is a very sensible person and i'd be shocked if he didn't want to make sure the house was a sound investment as well as a good home for them. I feel he is literally not allowed to have an opinion which is mental.

- the latest and what has me writing this because i'm so upset for him is they are invited to a wedding soon, the bride is a friend of his. Girlfriend booked a room in the hotel. bride rearranged the rooms so that family had the hotel rooms and other guests were in an adjoining lodge. Girlfriend found out and made my brother email the bride (he would never in a million years have done that without being made to) and tell her they didn't want to stay in the lodge and she also rang the hotel and went crazy at them for changing her room without telling her. Bride was very apologetic about the whole thing. Girlfriend is now refusing to attend the wedding. My brother is still going thank god. and it's on his 30th birthday. She asked my opinion and i said it was annoying re the rooms but she is being unreasonable and they will think she is a b!tch. she said "i don't care". i asked did she not care for my brother's sake as all his friends will be there and she said "no i don't care, I'm raging at the bride, no way am i going". my brother was again biting his nails away while this conversation took place.

i could go on with more examples along a similar vein but you get the idea.

i don't want to tell him to break up with her or anything but i want to make sure he knows it's ok to stand up to her and in fact, at times maybe he should, if she is being unreasonable. or that he can ask advice if he needs to. she has this pattern of creating a mountain out of a molehill and i am genuinely concerned that sooner or later one of our family will be on the receiving end and i can fully imagine her insisting he cut off contact. she has done this with friends in the past. i actually worry that when they have kids, me or my sister or my parents might not be allowed to see them if we say or do something to offend her. i have an opportunity to have a chat to him this week and she would never have to know we even saw each other.

should i do it or should i just mind my own business? what would i even say to him?

PurpleDaisies Tue 10-May-16 12:20:41

I doubt any good would come of you speaking to him about it. She sounds very annoying and I can understand why you don't like her, but do you think your brother doesn't already know what she's like? Do you think you telling him to stand up to her will actually change anything? I'd just make sure he's happy and that he knows he can talk to you about anything any time he wants to.

ijustwannadance Tue 10-May-16 12:22:02

But would he tell her what you say? If he did she would make him cut you off by making him choose her or family.

Standing up to her won't help him as she won't allow that and it doesn't sound like he is capable of it anyway!

limon Tue 10-May-16 12:24:56

yabu. Keep out of it.

bye the way - the bride was well out of order to change someone else's booking.

BeYourselfUnlessUCanBeAUnicorn Tue 10-May-16 12:25:59

I'm sure you will be told to MYOB, but it's hard.

If you say anything to him, will he tell her? Then you will look like the bad guy? She does sound like a pain but he obviously sees something in her (not sure what tbh), sounds like he is quite downtrodden. What would you actually say?

My brother was with someone who was quite controlling. I didn't mind her as such but it did feel like what she said went and he didn't get to do what he wanted. We were due to go for a meal with them once and she wasn't feeling well so he less aged me and cancelled at the last minute, after we had arranged a baby sitter and everything. I did tell him later he could have still come without her, the look on his fa e said he didn't even think that was an option, like if she couldn't go then he couldn't either.

Ultimately, he did wake up one day and they are no longer together. He is like a different person now and much better. He was also picked on quite a bit, it's like he was used to being kept down so just accepted it. Oh and I never said anything to him. I saw it as his life and his choice and at the time he wanted to be with her, I was just relieved when he ended it though. Plenty of other people stuck their oars in, in a not polite way either and that probably didn't help.

BillSykesDog Tue 10-May-16 12:26:05

None of them, apart from the wedding thing, sound particularly unreasonable to me. I would stay well out.

BarbarianMum Tue 10-May-16 12:27:42

If he asks your opinion you should, of course, give it. Other than that, leave it alone.

prettywhiteguitar Tue 10-May-16 12:30:32

Honestly he will not do anything even if you say all this, he is passive. All you are doing is getting yourself stressed out about someone else's relationship.

You might not be U but you certainly can't tell your bro what to do !

Oldraver Tue 10-May-16 12:32:17

I think you need to stay out of it, no good will come of poking your nose in.

He's a wimp, he wont stand up to her, all that will happen if you do interfere is another woman (you) will be bossing him about organising his life. If he wants change only HE can do it

minipie Tue 10-May-16 12:34:47

I think that - IF the topic comes up - you can gently suggest to him that if he doesn't agree with her he should feel able to say so, and tell him his opinion is just as valid as hers. But that's the furthest you could go.

Beingcompletelyhonest Tue 10-May-16 12:36:07

I'm sorry you're feeling upset. It must be very frustrating to see your DB sharing his life with someone you dislike so much.

However annoying though, the examples you've given aren't really major crimes.
Annoying and highly strung, definitely.
But for example the hotel room situation is not entirely a clear cut situation where she is wrong and bride is right. It was certainly ungracious of her not to go along with the bride changing the room bookings but actually that was a little rude too in the first place. The polite thing would have been for the bride to ask her guests if they minded changing their rooms. If your DB's girlfriend kicked up a fuss at the request she would have looked like a twat.

Unless you have reason to believe that you DB is being abused, their relationship really isn't any of your business.

How close are you to your DB? If you're not very close I'm afraid you may lose him if you reveal the extent of your dislike of his chosen partner.

Chlobee87 Tue 10-May-16 12:38:57

I think you should speak with him. He's your brother and you want what is best for him. My db is in a kind of similar situation, although he goes along with things for an easy life rather than because he is unable to stand up for himself (he certainly had no issues on that front when we were growing up! lol) so I don't get involved because I think the day will eventually come when he has had enough and just tells his gf to stop. He's fully aware that his gf is 'hard work' as he prefers to call it...

The difference with your db is that his character is such that he is not able to stand up for himself. Coupled with his gf's selfish, stubborn and very controlling streak I can see how what little confidence he does have could end up being ground down and then he really is in trouble.

I think you have to refrain from telling him what to do (not that you've given any indication that you would) because the whole point is that he needs to have freedom to make his own decisions. But I would definitely let him know that you've noticed her behaviour and you've seen signs that it makes him unhappy (withdrawn, nail biting etc.). Let him know that you are always there to talk to and that you would not repeat anything said to you in confidence. What the gf is doing is actually quite abusive so it could well be the case that your db has become convinced that her behaviour is normal or that it's in his head. Hearing from you that it's not normal to feel that way in a loving relationship might be just the jolt he needs.

I really hope the situation is resolved because your db sounds very sweet and you sound like a caring and supportive sister.

Colchestergal Tue 10-May-16 12:40:26

Their relationship is none of your business.

Your brother is an adult and can make us own decisions and judgements.

The things you mention are not that dreadful.

Hoe would you feel if he made comments about your relationship?

EponasWildDaughter Tue 10-May-16 12:44:37

I was coming on to say what Old said:

He's a wimp, he wont stand up to her, all that will happen if you do interfere is another woman (you) will be bossing him about organising his life. If he wants change only HE can do it

It's hard to stand by when you're worried about family. But the old saying: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer applies here. Don't alienate him OR her. Be there for him if and when he needs you.

GnomeDePlume Tue 10-May-16 12:47:55

Dont tell him anything. Ask him if he is happy and listen to the answer.

NeedsAsockamnesty Tue 10-May-16 12:49:21

Is sounds like he is being manipulated and isolated I would be very concerned he was being bullied and was in a abusive situation.

PaddingtonLoverOfMarmalade Tue 10-May-16 12:53:08

Not sure what to advise generally. I'm quite like your brother and though I sometimes want people to speak up when I'm being pushed around, I might also leap to the defense of the person treating me unfairly, especially if I loved them.

But regarding the house buying - if she can't drive and is looking at houses miles from work, friends, etc. how will she get to places when she's on maternity leave?

Don't envy you your situation.

MerryMarigold Tue 10-May-16 12:53:10

I think you sound like a lovely person and care about your brother. She sounds like she is very dominating and a bit of a nightmare. He will resent her in the long term big time, and this will not be good for either of them. If I were you, I would definitely have a quiet word, but in a very gently way. Partly for your own conscience to know you have seen something and you are warning him out of love and concern. In the end it is his choice how to behave and whether to continue in a relationship with her, but you have warned him. It is possible he feels he is being unreasonable to stand up to her, or doubts his own opinions so much that he is not sure if he is wrong and she is right. He may just need someone else 'on side' to give him courage and support to be able to say, "Actually I would like to look at some other houses." "No, I won't drive you there, I'm busy." (It's her choice if she wants to drive, but it's his choice to drive her everywhere). "I'm going to pay my part of the fine. If you don't want to, and are happy to go to the police station, you don't need to pay it." He needs some boundaries with her, so that he is also himself in this relationship, and the confidence to enforce them. She sounds like a very opinionated person, which is fine in combination with someone equally 'strong' - but in this case she is running rings around him. I couldn't stand by and watch someone treat my sibling the way she treats your brother. A partnership is just that, and this doesn't sound like one.

StillDrSethHazlittMD Tue 10-May-16 12:54:35

Old - would you be so quick to call a woman a wimp if the OP was talking about her sister rather than her brother, and it was a man being so controlling?

MerryMarigold Tue 10-May-16 12:56:05

This is a good book

I also think even if it doesn't go down well, it will cause him to think. But please be gentle and don't make it about whether you like her not. Just that he needs to be his own person with his own opinions.

Queenie73 Tue 10-May-16 12:59:09

All you can do is make sure he knows that he can talk to you if something bothers him.

I've had friends like your brother and eventually they got fed up of their controlling/bossy partners and just exploded. I don't think it's the healthiest way to be, but you can't force him to change.

My sister got involved in a awful relationship (her supervisor's fiancé FFS!) and I hated him. I tried to explain that I thought he was bad news, especially since he had been married 3 times and cheated every time. I don't do tact well and got all tied up in knots. What I meant to say was "I think you deserve to be someone's first choice". What I said was "Were there no fresh ones available?" She didn't speak to me for 10 years and in that time she married the creep.

I still think he is a slimeball wanker, but now I keep my opinions to myself and that enables me to have a relationship with my sister. We reconciled when I apologised and pretended that I had misjudged him.

ExtraHotLatteToGo Tue 10-May-16 13:00:17

What MerryMarigold said. Word for word. Do it OP. He's your brother and your gentle support would probably mean a lot to him.

Waltermittythesequel Tue 10-May-16 13:01:22

Stop treating him like a man child!

She doesn't like how he does things, you don't like how he does things.


You should all leave him alone!

ImperialBlether Tue 10-May-16 13:13:46

I would definitely have a word with him before he buys a house with her. I completely agree with a previous poster who said there's a high risk of her making him go NC with his family. Her attitude towards the house is appalling. The thing is, your brother finds it impossible to stand up for himself when she's there - if he was going to leave her it would probably have to happen when she's not there, giving her no prior notice. It wouldn't surprise me if that had happened to her before.

DistanceCall Tue 10-May-16 13:16:50

I agree with MerryMarigold. Ask him if he's happy, and make sure that he knows that you will always support him. Then it's his own decision to make.

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