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Think DB is in abusive marriage

(28 Posts)
packofshunts Tue 11-Apr-17 15:35:38

Posting for traffic...

Last week I posted a thread saying how pissed off I was with DB as he no longer seemed to put any effort into our relationship or with DM. That any contact or rare visits were always on his/SiL terms and he never put himself out. No reasons given - just gradual but increasing detachment.

However I have just been reading through another thread where a DM is at wits end with DiL and her apparent controlling behaviour.

Suddenly loads of alarm bells are going off in my head and rather than seeing DB as a lazy arse who for whatever reason doesn't want a relationship with his own family; I am now thinking that actually he is in an EA marriage and either doesn't see it/doesn't know how to get out.

So, from my viewpoint, here is what I see:
They met at uni and quickly moved 200 miles away to live in same city as her family. When they met SiL had just come out of a physically abusive relationship and kind of saw DB as her saviour.
Over the next 15 years he lost ALL contact with pre-SiL friends, even his best man.
He visits us/DM maybe twice a year; always on their terms. Hasn't seen any other family members for at least 10 years, although they are always at events organised by SiL's family.
We are never invited to theirs. Never rings, rarely returns calls or texts.

As far as I know he has none of his own friends where they live.

SiL constantly undermines DB when we do see them and I see how he is constantly walking on egg shells to avoid a scene. He always appears 'flat' like the spark has gone but says he's fine when asked.
The worst though is when she has a drink, she is literally vile to him - picking on him, making fun of him, generally verbally abusive. No shame in doing this in front of an audience. He will just get up and take himself off to bed rather than confronting her.

Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? I do know that their
DCs are his life and suspect she may make threats about his relationship with them. I haven't seen any signs of physical abuse but who knows? I don't see him enough to observe.
I feel absolutely floored that I've only just realised what could be happening.

Have no clue what to do. Our once open and close relationship has deteriorated simply because we have been shut out of his life and the control SiL exerts over him. They live so far away it's not even as if I can get him on his own to chat.
My fear is also that if I were to say something to him, he would totally fly off the handle and deny any problems - possibly then destroying our relationship permanently.

Apologies that this is rambling and disjointed, needed to get my thoughts down quickly

Does anyone have any advice on the first small steps I could take to broach the subject?

packofshunts Tue 11-Apr-17 16:38:40

Eek! Anyone?

e1y1 Tue 11-Apr-17 17:11:28

Nothing to say, but bumping for you.

sprinklemonkey Tue 11-Apr-17 22:47:19

not experienced this before but i would say approach him gently (when he is alone) and just say you're genuinely worried about him, he doesn't seem himself, is anything going on etc. No mention of her, just say you're concerned, you could cite reasons why (he's lost contact with old friends, your family etc) but don't mention her. go gently, just check he's ok, you're concerned about him, is anyone or a situation upsetting him? he can be honest with you etc, you've only got his interests at heart. be heartfelt and genuine in your concern and it may bring him round. offer yourself as someone he can turn to if he is upset or worried, any time.

bigchangesabound Tue 11-Apr-17 23:02:01

Wow! I was planning on writing something very similar about my DB and SIL. There was no previous abuse on her side that I know of though. She is just so controlling of him and even he admits that she forgets that he has family too sometimes. It's difficult especially as it's a 6/7 hr drive between me and him and double that to our parents!
DM knows it too and says we just have to keep the contact offers up for him so he knows we are still here, no matter what.
The problem is I'm not sure if he realises himself about it.
Was going to come on here and ask about certain books that others have spoken about that discuss controlling relationships, but also how to give one to him without her knowing!

noego Wed 12-Apr-17 00:18:08

Most definitely. But it is not your business. He'll suss it out in time and come home.

packofshunts Wed 12-Apr-17 06:53:54

Thank you.,,

Yes I do have to tread really carefully. I know that anything in writing he is likely to show SiL. I think I may just have to wait until they visit again and try to have a gentle chat (not easy as he doesn't seem to leave her side until the point he leaves for bed after enough drunken verbal abuse

Noego, except if it's not my business who else's is it! confused. There seems to be no one else left to look out for him and if we were talking about a sister would that make you feel differently?

Rainybo Wed 12-Apr-17 08:29:14

You can let him know you're there for him but he has to come to the realisation himself.

My DB and I aren't particularly close as such or certainly weren't. It wasn't until I left DH that DB and SIL gently told me what they really thought of him and DB listed times he had had to walk out of the room because he was so disgusted with things DH had said to me. If he had caused a scene then, I would have been pushed further away.

Since I left my DB and SIL have been my rocks along with the rest of my family who tolerated a lot. Just don't lose contact.

FWIW I stayed for a long time for my DC. It was and wasn't worth it in lots of subtle ways.

packofshunts Wed 12-Apr-17 08:50:47

Really grateful for your thoughts. I did have half a thought to just put it out there especially as I've felt so cross at him lately, but I see that wouldn't do any good at all.

It makes me so sad because we are a tiny family anyway and I would hate to lose another branch; I also miss him as a person and the relationship we used to have.
SiLs family is huge and I think he might enjoy being part of all the craziness that goes with that but I also wish he would see that he still has his family sad

Also both sets of DCs miss out on seeing their cousins.

KateDaniels2 Wed 12-Apr-17 09:00:17

But it is not your business.

I don't agree.

My dbro is in an abusive relationship. Its been an awful 6 years. Lots of what you have posted rings true for our situation.

It took me a while to realised what was going on. Its actually got a lot better. They had counselling and things seem to be better.

Dbro sees us a lot more and knows he has our support. I would prefer if he left her, but thats his decision.

It came to head when she called him a fucking cunt on boxing day 2015. I asked her who she thought she was talking to and told her she was an abuser. I genuinely dont think she saw it that way.

GeekLove Wed 12-Apr-17 09:02:21

Bump will post more later.

noego Wed 12-Apr-17 09:04:11

It's no-ones business. He's a grown man. If these thoughts of yours are wrong and you approach him then what will happen? If these thoughts are right and you approach him then what will happen?
What happens if you all go visit him. Stop in a cheap hotel. Go once a month. How often do you speak to him on the phone? How much effort do you make to see you brother and family? Sometimes life does get in the way. A 200 mile journey takes 4 hours and sometimes people do not feel like making the effort. I live 200 miles from my family. I'm single. Financially independent. I talk to them on the phone and see them on average once a year. My life is here where I live. Sometimes they come here but it is rare. We all get on, love each other and would be there for each other in a crisis.

packofshunts Wed 12-Apr-17 09:25:55

Kate thank you, your post is really helpful. There have been too May to count incidents where she has been really vile to him but I've bit my lip. I think I may just call her on it next time and just what happens. I can't quite believe they either of them think that's an acceptable way to behave, especially in front of other people, and trust me she's viscous in full flow.

Likewise I can't ever see him leaving her. I think she has so alienated him from his life pre-her he wouldn't know what to do or where to go. Plus he so adores his DCs I think he'd be too scared to leave for fear of her going NC.

Noegro yes he's a grown man but he's still my brother. If I thought he was happy or we'd done something to offend him then I would (unhappily perhaps) leave him to it.

It is me who makes all the effort. Me who rings, me who texts, me who invites even pleaded on occasion him to visit once in a while, who says "I miss you and would love to see all" (yes I am careful to add SiL into that statement).

Nothing is proactive from his side, apart from a meticulously planned (on their terms) 24 hour visit from them twice a year.

packofshunts Wed 12-Apr-17 09:26:34

Sorry Noego !

FritzDonovan Wed 12-Apr-17 09:48:22

People do lose touch with friends and possibly family over the years, especially when they live a good distance apart. My OH has two siblings, who is rarely in contact with and has arranged to meet one for a drink once when in the same town. I don't abuse him and stop contact. He's just incredibly lazy about it and isn't really bothered. Same from his siblings and I'm pretty sure they're not in abusive relationships either.
I agree that the name-calling is vile, but everything else you have said is based on supposition.
*Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? I do know that their
DCs are his life and suspect she may make threats about his relationship with them. I haven't seen any signs of physical abuse but who knows? I don't see him enough to observe.
I feel absolutely floored that I've only just realised what could be happening.*
You suspect, but haven't seen any signs. DB has not said anything to you. Of course it's possible to speak to him alone. Doesn't he have a mobile, or is he never in the house without his wife?
I suspect your dislike of the woman has made you jump to some pretty damning conclusions. By all means ask DB about it, but make sure you have proof before making any accusations, for the sake of future relationships

ItWentDownMyHeartHole Wed 12-Apr-17 12:09:26

I'm unsure what's really going on with my youngest DB and his wife. They moved to the other side of the world with their kids and seem very happy with each other on Instagram. But before they left SIL had picked a fight with or bad-mouthed every male and female friend DB had. Or had beef with their partners and seemed to cause rifts that way.
When my DH and I first met her we'd been invited over for a meal. We left grimacing as in, holy-shit, she's a nightmare. And he bloody married her.
She was so full on right from the get go. And she was putting him down/teasing him/complaining about him right at the beginning. She's very prickly herself and doesn't like to even be teased. Can get furious about perceived slights (or actual slights. I don't think she's under any illusions as to how I feel about her). I can't bear to hear her go on and on about DB but feel completely disloyal to him for not liking his wife.
We see him roughly every two years. I think she's horrible and often nasty to him but she is his choice.

packofshunts Wed 12-Apr-17 12:36:04

Exactly the way I feel itwent

The complaining about everything he does or doesn't do. the way she gets 'offended' by everything and everyone. She thinks nothing of moaning and nitpicking about our DM right in front of me, even though they never make any bloody effort with her!

Like you I've silently shaken my head for years because it's his choice but surely their must be a breaking point somewhere? confused

Can only imagine what gets said to DB about me!

packofshunts Wed 12-Apr-17 12:40:24

Sorry forgot to add she also taunts him, especially when drunk. Deliberately calls DB by his middle name (which happens to be the name of our father's name who walked out on us when we were kids and never saw again) confusedangry

amalur Wed 12-Apr-17 13:35:28

packofshunts I could have almost written your post. My DB is in a similar position, and I think that he's been emotionally abused. They have been together since secondary school, it was her first and only relationship. She's cut contact with her own family and according to DB, she has one friend. He's admitted that she is not good at friendships. She does not like our family, just because. Apparently my mother spoke out of turn once early on their relationship, and that is that.
It was OK while they were on their own before children. I live abroad (UK) and I would always make the effort to see my brother when I went back. Sometimes I would see her as well. They couple of times I have been to their house we were not offered more than a coffee and the atmosphere was frosty, so I resigned myself to meet in a bar or once we all had kids, in the park. Always in their town, they never come to my mother's place.
She does not allow him to take the children to my mother's house, or family gatherings. I was not allowed to visit them after the birth of my oldest niece even though I was in the country for a short period and would not be again for at least nine months. I made it really clear I just wanted to pop in for less than an hour to congratulate my brother. It was a no. Everything is on her terms. DB says he can not longer argue about it with her, he says the whole family issue is rotten.
The thing is that my DB does like our family, we get on well, we enjoy seeing each other. He stopped coming to family gatherings because it pained him not to have his children with him. I begged him to come, told him I rather see him even if it is by himself.
It has all been so painful, and my mother (and me) has cried rivers about this. I have resigned myself to most of it, although I resent so much that I can not be an aunt to my nieces and that my children can not see their cousins, and that he can not introduce his children to the extended family.
I have told him that it is not normal to be in a relationship where one person holds all the cards, it is emotional ransom. He dismissed me, and suggested we are all somehow responsible for the dynamic. I have told him clearly that our side of the family and himself have done nothing wrong, we have always been civil and this is clear from the positive interactions we all have with extended families on our side. I lay all responsibility at her feet.
But I have also made it clear I am still here for him. That the door is open if and when there is a change. So no real advice, apart from trying to keep the communications going, even if it is just with him. I felt that he can only be helped if he sees the problem himself and he is not there yet, and I am not sure he will ever be.

HidingEyes Wed 12-Apr-17 13:59:56

I'm a great believer for saying what I think ... once and once only.

Agreeing with SprinkleMonkey obviously you need to get him on his own. I would go so far as to engineer it somehow if poss ... only two tickets ... etc. Say you are worried about him. Say you don't like the way his wife treats him?

(btw if he is rude to him in front of family, don't family say anything?!!!!. sounds like she's getting away with a lot).

All this might force him to 'choose' between family and his wife ... but isn't he doing that already?

I wouldn't get into an argument though with DB or his wife. Just a steely look should suffice to her, should she respond when you point out she's insulting your brother!

the positive side: it may make him buck up his thoughts!

the negative: he may pull away from you even more - but he has anyway so that can't get much worse.

the only caveat I would give is DO NOT get into any argey bargey, arguments or angry showdowns etc. Quiet, brief and forthright (once) I would stay, after that there's nothing more to say.

HidingEyes Wed 12-Apr-17 14:03:40

I would say I meant. If I haven't made it clear already, I think its OK to say something once thats true, quietly, however difficult to broach. From my own experience, the problems start when people get into emotional arguments. I see no problem with you expressing your concern to your brother. After that of course its his choice. But it might plant a little seed for him ... and out of seeds acorns grow ...

packofshunts Wed 12-Apr-17 18:57:07

See I need to be brave and talk to him. Up to now have been fearful of a confrontation or him walking away permanently, but frankly there's not much more to lose sad

FerdinandsRevenge Wed 12-Apr-17 19:00:31

Does he work? If he wanted to call you he could in his own time surely?

BigGrannyPants Wed 12-Apr-17 19:05:52

OP given your relationship, maybe it would. E best to start off gently, if she goes to the loo maybe just start out saying something like

'whatever happens, you know we can always talk, doesn't have to go any further, I love you and I will always be here no matter what'

Just a little seed, no pressure and no assumptions, if you suggest he is perhaps being abused he might recoil. I would imagine, if it is going on, he's ashamed and doesn't want anyone to know.

Try and text him, phone him more often, just small chat

PippaFawcett Wed 12-Apr-17 19:17:27

This is an interesting thread. My DH could fit a lot of what you describe but he is quite lazy and cannot be bothered to drive to see his family. We lead very busy lives and by the weekend he wants to loaf around. In the early days, I organised the visits but after a while I thought 'fuck it' and left him to it. The result is that we see his parents 2-3 times a year but DH seems happy with that and actually his parents seem fine too. They do talk on the phone. But I'm not mean to him in front of people or otherwise. I would engineer a visit to where he lives and try to see him on his own. Be honest and give him a chance to respond. It doesn't sound like you have anything to lose. Does he work? Could you meet him at lunchtime?

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