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My brother's toxic wife(55 Posts)
Apologies if this is long. I'm not sure if there are any comments that can even help, but I'm hoping just writing it down might give me some perspective.
Six years ago, my brother married a woman he had met online 6 months previously and this started the collapse of our 'normal' family - 3 late 30s 'kids' (haha) and mid 60s parents.
It would take me too long to describe how manipulative and vicious she is, but my other brother (v senior police officer) and a friend who is a psychiatric nurse are convinced she has a personality disorder, probably narcissism. I was sceptical - too much tv so I thought they were psycho killers - but googled it and, hey presto, Wikopedia have nailed her.
From the beginning I disliked her but I remained polite for my brother's sake. We all did. He is quite vulnerable - very intelligent but he was the class geek and terribly bullied at school and in a later job. If he was happy, so were we.
She was rude to me and my dp and rude to my parents. Actually, she flipped between being rude and breaking down in front of us about the people who had failed her (the feud with the sister she had not spoken to for years, the exh who stole all her money...), her many illnesses (there is an infamous incident where she spoke for over an hour about an intimate feminine issue in front of my 70 year old father).
She tried to force an intense friendship on me - in her eyes we would be in SIL heaven - but snubbed me completely when I wouldn't play ball. There was never any middle ground and she told me about friendships that had gone the same way, but obviously they were at fault.
And the lies. The house she owned that her parents looked shocked about when my parents mentioned it (it was supposedly abroad and they were taking care of it).
What we now believe to be a fake miscarriage 4 months after they met. Three years after they married, I found out about an ex husband my brother hadn't been told about. I can't even write the explanation she gave for the secret husband - it's an accusation of a serious crime, but one my DCI brother thinks is bollocks. These are big lies, but it was constant.
Things came to a head 3.5 years ago when she pretty much put a line in the sand by refusing to come on a family holiday she had previously accepted, for the most stupid reasons and then refusing all communication. My dad has a terrible illness - think bastard child of Parkinson's and Motor Neurone - and doesn't have long to live, at least not of any quality, and this holiday was his last family holiday. Because of this we begged, bribed then threatened and used emotional blackmail to try and make them come but got nothing in response. What we didn't realise at the time is that she was on his FB, email, phone so any communication to him was intercepted by her.
So I haven't seen my brother for 3.5 years, my mum has seen him once because they wanted money to move house, my dad has seen them a few times for the same reason. My other brother saw them for a while and haven't fallen out, but have lost favour - they were flavour of the month but soon dropped when they refused to take 'their side'. We've basically lost him. People outside the family have also witnessed stuff and believe their relationship is toxic. He no longer sees any of his friends and she doesn't really have friends, just business acquaintances. His life seems very limited. One best friend commented that he doesn't believe FB is a 'secure' method of communication!
My dad is devastated. I can't imagine contemplating dying while estranged from the son you were close to until he was 37. My mum is devastated, she says for my dad, but she carried him for 9 months, breastfed him, raised him while my dad worked, loved him........ But she also hates him for what he has done. I mostly hate both him and his wife. But I miss the brother I was reasonably close to, the kindest of three siblings, who would give you his last pound and travel the breadth of the country to do you a favour. And I can't help but think of my 3yo ds. How would I feel if he did this to us? I don't think I would ever be able to forgive my brother if my dad dies without making up but I also don't think making up is possible now. It feels like a pain I would hold forever. Once he is gone there is no going back.
There seems to be no solution but, as PO brother pointed out 'what if he was our sister?' There is a new law that deals with non violent domestic violence 'coercion and control' and he believes this applies. But he needs to want to go. The one time he has seen my mum in 3 years ended up with the wife storming out, and my brother who was in tears, replying 'you don't know what she's like' when my mum told him he didn't need to follow. Two days later he sent an email accusing my parents if physically and verbally abusing his wife! My 6' dad weighs 55kg and my 72 year old mum is post hip replacement. She is twisted. She literally reinvents history.
Unfortunately you can't do one single thing about the wife - he is under her control and will be until he decides to end it.
All you can do it to keep in contact with your brother and ignore the wife entirely. Keep telling your brother that you love him and that you're there for him so that if he ever does try to break free he knows he has someone to come to.
It is devastating to see someone in an abusive relationship but meddling does absolutely no good.
Is there any way at all that your other brother and your self could meet him, just the three of you? This is a horrible situation, he sounds totally controlled by the damaged woman he's chosen.
She almost sounds like the wife of a man who posted on here a little while ago. Can you try and contact your brother at work to avoid her interception?
He might have become codependent and regularly go in a state of FOG (fear obligation and guilt). There is some info on codependency on the Wikipedia page for narcissism.
It's not easy but I think the best way is to try to reach to him and support him and ignore his wife. He has to try to put himself first.
I would try everything you could to get in touch with your brother and arrange a meeting without her being present. Paint it how you wish - I'd go as far as to lie as to what you want to meet about.
As soon as the holiday drama happened I reached out 'let's not spoil the holiday because of such silly things' and agreed to address her, quite frankly ridiculous, demands. But it's clear these things were an excuse because as one problem was addressed she would find another. She just didn't want to come.
I also kept in touch with my brother - 'always here if you need me' 'love to catch up, either with or without her'.
I also admit I got desperate the closer to the holiday and said some mean stuff to him because he didn't respond to the neutral stuff. This was also the period that I did a bit of googling and discovered the secret exh and told him. Not the best idea as this was probably the final straw for her - the excuse she needed to make him cut me off. Cue tears about her abusive ex. (Probably not try as she was still using his name years later and with another marriage in between). And the evil sister who reminded her.
It was at this time we all clocked that she had access to all his correspondence. Every pleading email, desperate text, threatening FB msg.
He has blocked my phone, FB, email and I have not heard from him in 3 years. Basically, she knows I know. And by that I mean I see straight through her - women suss her first, hence no friends. It took a few times of her crying on my DH's shoulder for him to realise she is a lying, manipulative fruit loop.
My dad has theories - the 'fake' pregnancy used to trap him when actually she can't have kids (no more pregnancies and she is now 45), is she still married to that that ex-h? He thinks that if we find out and tell my brother it may be reason for them to split up. But even if we can prove anything, it may make things worse. My dad is dying and clutching at straws.
My dad and other brother have tried to arrange casual meetings but he always finds an excuse. He's not allowed to see people without her. She used to go on boys nights out with him....
I can think of a bit of a honey trap but I'm not sure it's wise.
Your Dad's will... would a sniff of potential inheritance make the SIL suddenly want to get in touch?
I am really sorry to hear about anyone who has a narcissist in their lives or their families. They really can cause havoc.
The problem with all this is that your brother is an adult. He is making his own decisions. He is choosing his own path in life - with her. He is choosing to cut himself off from his family and that is also his choice. You have tried to help him and open his eyes to no avail. Even as a parent we have to accept our grown up children will make their own choices in life that we may not approve of, even choosing a narcissist as a partner <shudder>.
One day your brother may come back to the fold. At least his wife can't have children and control him that way. If you have kept the doors of communication open who knows one day that may happen. In the meantime and this is just my opinion is that you would be better off focusing your energies on the rest of your family.
They definitely want and feel they are owed money. My other brother and I have been given money and the meeting with my mum was to try and arrange giving them some. But she stormed out before the offer.
What were you thinking?
*but maybe try to do a friendly hello "contact" in the way you used to do, say every 6-12 months, ideally bypassing his wife, though I suppose you can't always guarantee tjat
Also tried that - when DD, the niece he adored, started school, Christmas and birthdays etc, I would sent friendly texts. He emailed my mum to tell her 'dreadful daughter' to stop contacting him.
He is sweet and kind and worshiped DD. She now doesn't remember him and he has only seen DS for half an hour when he was 3 weeks old.
How can people do this?
I feel there is nothing realistically that can be done. Which literally hurts my heart.
I think just emailing and dropping enough of a hint about with your Dad being ill sorting out "family" stuff.
I think it's just a way really of being able for you to meet with your brother so that you can let him know that you are there for him no matter what. Hopefully they will keep in touch for a number of months so that message may seep through to him.
What about contacting him at work either by phone or waiting outside until he finishes.
I'm going through similar at the moment it's awful.
Someone posted this link earlier on a different but similar thread. You might need to play the game and go out of your way to fake being nice to her in order to have a relationship with your brother. You've probably already tried it though because you can't please a narcissist.
This sounds dreadful. I don't think there will be a resolution in time for your father. But am I right that your father knows the extent of the situation, and as such at least he knows everyone is trying to get your brother back around?. You need to separate the relationship he has with your father (sad situation as he is gravely ill) and the other breakdown in relationships ie feeling sadness about"lost" relationship with your children. Children don't know any difference. He will just be the distant uncle they don't see, and they will accept that (even though it makes you sad, they don't need to know that). I agree about the DV emotional abuse angle but it seems unlikely from reading many threads on MN that pointing this out to your brother will actually lead to him getting help or getting out.
At this stage it is unfortunately about you and your dad/mum reaching a state of acceptance not a resolution.
A friend of my parents, a family friend who is closest to my brother out of us all, has left a message saying that my dad is deteriorating. He literally suggested he makes contact before he dies. And it's not far from the truth. No reply and my brother likes and respects this man and his wife.
He has an odd freelance job with no regular hours or place of work. She pretty much put pay to the job he had, a job that most people would dream of doing, because she couldn't be with him 24/7 and he had to travel. Now he freelances and helps out with her business. My dad has written to him at the place his office is based but to no response. My brothers don't live close to each other, but occasionally the freelance job takes him close to PO brother who has tried on these occasions to meet up. But there is always an excuse.
Brother 2 is still our biggest hope but even they kind of fell out 8 months ago. Now she realises they won't take sides, they are no use to her and she let her guard down on a visit - showed her true colours - and was so rude that my 11 year old nephew said he never wanted to see her again. And they haven't.
We are literally powerless. And I have to watch my dad suffer with this as well as his illness.
My dad is still friends with them on FB and I have his log in so I can have a nose. This may sound vindictive and a little weird but I am preparing what I will post when the time comes.
Yes Bitta, you are right.
TBH my mum and I are tougher. And would find it hard to forgive what he has done anyway. Whenever my dad comes up with whacky plans I have to point out that he has to want to leave her - us instigating something could explode the situation. I hated how she behaved in front of my (then just) DD so if a relationship with him involved her, I wouldn't want it anyway.
She is literally the most evil person I have met.
In a nutshell. What hurts me the most is the thought of my dad dying while estranged from his son. That kills me.
Thanks youaremyrain - brilliantly written article. And on the money.
Re: What hurts me the most is the thought of my dad dying while estranged from his son. That kills me. - it's not about you. Don't take that the wrong way. It's about how your dad feels. Focus your energies on that and don't let this marr your last few months(?) with your dad. Is there a way of you all helping your dad to reach peace with this scenario, as far as that is possible? Separate your feelings about it - especially the part where you are projecting how you would feel if your own DS did this in some as yet unwritten future - and ensure you support your dad and all live the best family life you can together while you can.
is she still married to that that ex-h? He thinks that if we find out and tell my brother it may be reason for them to split up
You think she's a bigamist?
There are ways to obtain records of marriages and divorces in the UK. Who knows what she did to her Ex, that she's chosen not to mention him.
Your brother is allowing her to control him unfortunately. Until he susses her out and takes action there's no hope really.
She's the typical abuser isolating him and turning him against his blood family.
Sandy. It didn't cross my mind at first - just thought it was another lie.
But something odd was said when she last saw PO brother. The time she upset my nephew. Even though it had been over 2 years since the exh was discovered, out of the blue she took my brother aside and explained that the reason she had the marriage annulled was because she found dodgy photos of children on his laptop.
PO brother doesn't believe her. For one, marriages aren't annulled these days. She was also using his name despite having moved to the US, married another man and split up from him in the meantime. Who would choose to use the name of their peodophile ex? And she was 30 when she married him. Not a young frightened woman. If it was true, surely she would have reported this?
Now, it could be attention seeking, but we all wondered if there was a reason she said 'annulled' instead of divorced. So that if it was discovered she was still married to him there would be an explanation.......?
So this is why my dad wants to contact the exh. And I have found him on FB.
This was all to PO brother btw.
Don't think my brother was there so don't know what he knows.
It's just fishy.
As others have said though op, your brother needs to want to leave her and he doesn't. He may in the future but he doesn't now, and he will likely only want to protect her more if he thinks his family are trying to split them up.
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