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Advice for my sister

(13 Posts)
aturtlenamedmack Mon 15-Jul-13 14:44:31

I need to be a bit vague as I'm posting on behalf of dsis who doesn't want to be identified for obvious reasons.
Dsis has been in a relationship with a lovely guy for 7 years sand they are due to be married in a couple of months.
Her DP has had a very traumatic time recently, he has had very serious ill health which has left him fairly severly disabled and almost blind. He nearly lost his life on multiple occasions and has had lots of very serious surgery. His illness affected his brain including movement, sight and processing information. He spent a long time in hospital and rehab in another city so he and dsis were apart for quite a long time with only weekend visits. He has recently moved back in with dsis.
The problem is that he is being extremely nasty and verbally abusive to her.
She has done nothing but be kind and supportive towards him through this very difficult period and she has obviously had a very difficult time too.
He is understandably very unhappy and depressed at his situation but he is making her life miserable too. He swears at her , not in the heat of an arguement but just in conversation, for example she will ask how his day was and recieve abuse back.
I realise that things must be so difficult for him but I am worried that my sister is about to sign up for a very unhappy life and I think that this behaviour is completely unacceptable despite the circumstances.
I was just hoping that someone might be able to advise or even have experience of a similar situation.
They are both ver young (under 30) and it's such a lot for them both to cope with.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Mon 15-Jul-13 15:14:16

I would absolutely advise her to, at the least, take a step back. Postpone the wedding. She needs to discover if his behaviour is temporary or permanent. It may well be that the brain injury has left him a very different person (in which case, he won't ever be the same and she should probably, and sadly, leave). If it is something that will diminish over time as he recovers fully, which is possible, this may mean things will be OK at a later date. But I certainly wouldn't get married until the position is clear.

aturtlenamedmack Mon 15-Jul-13 15:21:18

Thank you for your advice, that was my guy feeling too but I think she is hesitant to do that for a number of reasons including feeling that she would be abandoning him to a life of misery.
I'm not sure that his behaviour is directly related to his brain injury, more that he is having a lot of difficulty accepting and adapting to the massive changes in his capabilities and life.
I really feel for him, he is usually a lovely bloke but I can't see my sister treated like that and I want to be able to support her properly.

Twitterqueen Mon 15-Jul-13 15:23:15

I'm going to be really, really harsh here but your dsis needs to decide whether or not she wants to sign up for a life of nursing, caring and perhaps sole financial responsibility, with someone who is clearly unable or unwilling to fulfil her emotional needs -

- or whether she wants to make a life for herself that she will enjoy.

I'm not saying dump him but what I am saying is that life is too short and too precious to spend it in misery out of misplaced guilt or loyalty..

Horrible situation for her - as Jess says above, take a big, big step back and think.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Mon 15-Jul-13 15:24:00

If she is taking a step back and merely postponing, she is not abandoning him. That may follow of course...

The upshot is that he is no longer the same person - either temporarily or permanently. If the latter, no one would blame her for leaving. There was a case recently of a soldier back from Afghanistan who'd lost his legs and they still got married but he was changed, always angry and they couldn't have sex (or kids) and it all fell apart. He wasn't the same person any more. It's very sad.

BerkshireMum Mon 15-Jul-13 15:30:07

A similar thing happened to someone I know only they were married with very young children when he had has accident. After a very difficult few years they are now amicably divorced, still very good friends and active co-parents. My friend supports her ExDH in many practical and emotional ways but also has a very happy and independent life, now with a new partner. Unusually and luckily her ExDH and DP get on well and are often seen chatting at family events etc.

Unusual I know, and not easy at all to get there, but it works for them. Not saying this would work for your sister, but just wanted to show there are options.

Finally, she needs to make her decision based on the two of them and how she feels, not what other people will say. Praise or blame will both pass I promise.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 15-Jul-13 15:32:29

I think your sister needs the reassurance that she doesn't have to marry this man just because he's been through a lot and that, if she takes a step back and has a rethink, no-one will call her heartless or whatever.

BerkshireMum Mon 15-Jul-13 15:35:57

I think Cogito is right. Another thought - he could be testing her, consciously or otherwise, to see if she is pitying him or treating him as she always did. Not a good way to go about it and less likely, but perhaps worth a thought.

FobblyWoof Mon 15-Jul-13 15:36:01

Okay, a few issues here and I don't think any of them are easily resolved unfortunately.

I understand her reluctance to postpone the wedding with the feelings of guilt etc, but do you think she'd be more accepting of it if you tried the tact of it also being a good thing for her DP? He won't need the stress and pressure of a wedding so soon after suffering the problems he's faced with. Even if he was being all lovely and sweet it would be awful timing so I really think it's best for both of them.

He might be quite against help, especially as he's probably a hell of a lot less independent than he was before, but contacting charities to do with brain injury and blind organisations will really help. Be it counselling or help with day to day things. Even if he's not keen on the idea they can still help your sister, not only in his day to day care but also her feelings and how she can deal with his attitude.

It might take him a long time to come to terms with what's happened, but that doesn't mean that your sister has to put up with shitty behaviour.

I can only go on my own experiences and obviously they differ hugely but my brother is registered blind and has been going blind gradually since before he was a teen due to a genetic condition. It also causes a whole host of other (very nasty) symptoms/conditions. One of which is fairly severe mental health problems including depression and huge anxiety. He is not like your sisters DP at all. I can understand why anyone in that position (be it him or my DB) would be incredibly bitter. It's not fair. But it's not right to take that out on those who love him and he needs help addressing this.

I wish your DSis all the best.

aturtlenamedmack Mon 15-Jul-13 15:51:44

Thank you everyone for the advice and kind words.
I will have a bit more of a talk with her later and see how she's feeling about things today and possibly raise postponing the wedding again.
As you've all said, I don't want her to stay with him for the wrong reasonsand I think a bit more time to think would help her get a bit more perspective.

EldritchCleavage Mon 15-Jul-13 16:31:05

Can she really do this for ever? She doesn't have to, and no one, not even him, should demand that she does or even expect her to. She can't assume the status quo will continue-it might get better but it might get worse. Could your sister live with that? Are children a possibility and if not, is she willing to give up on motherhood?

A friend of mine left her boyfriend for similar reasons. They were very young when he was injured in an accident. His mother in particular guilt-tripped friend into staying. In the end she couldn't take it and left. She is now happily married to someone else.

aturtlenamedmack Mon 15-Jul-13 21:13:45

That's the thing eldritch she would be happy to deal with all the thongs that have come hand in hand with his illness, such as being the sole earner, caring for him and anything else that comes her way and she understands how difficult this transition is for him but at the moment she is getting nothing positive from the relationship and that definitely can't go on forever.
She needs her emotional needs met and needs him to consider her and how she is feeling. Even if he is struggling he needs to take positive steps in this direction such as seeing the gp if he is feeling depressed and accessing other support available to him.
Children are still an option and I think he is very keen which makes me slightly wary of his motives, as nasty as that sounds.

Liara Mon 15-Jul-13 21:23:00

Many men have extreme trouble with the idea of being cared for and being dependent on someone else.

My otherwise bloody wonderful dh is a nightmare when he has anything wrong with him. A few years ago he had a major accident which meant he had to rely on me for a number of things.

Fortunately this came after many, many years of marriage so I could see exactly what was going on and was able to be very short with him without feeling like a bitch grin.

I basically had to make him acknowledge that he needed me to do x,y and z for him whether he wanted me to or not, and that he should be asking me exactly the same way as he would if he was perfectly able to do it himself and only wanted a favour.

I took to making him say 'please' and 'thank you' every time I did something for me (which he would always do normally, but which he didn't do at the time). It was a way for him to acknowledge everything that I was doing and for me to feel better about having it done.

Fortunately it was something he was able to recover from, but it did make us aware that it is something we will need to work on, as there is a serious possibility that I will, at some point in his life, have to nurse him in his old age!

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