I’m a man, 60s, engaged to a woman who’s four years younger, living together for over five years.
Everything’s fine between us except for my fiancés older sister, 78, who lives in her mother’s house which I’m helping repair to sell.
She keeps yelling and screaming at me. She also did this when I was previously helping look after their mother.
I then thought she was stressed out as we all were about their mother’s declining condition.
Now, after ongoing outbursts for 10 years, I’m seeing it as harassment of me.
It starts suddenly during a normal conversation between us, alone. She yells, I just listen.
When questioned about her behaviour, she denies yelling.
She won't admit it to her sister nor me, saying she doesn't know what I’m talking about.
I intend to no longer associate with her. This is hard on my fiancé.
How can I keep my sanity and hold this sister to account?
My main goal is to keep my fiancé happy, or is there no hope?
Harassed and Fed Up
Tell your fiancée that you’re concerned about her sister. And rightly so. Ask her to trust you and accept your word.
Suggest that she be nearby the next time you’re alone with her sister and to come over when you send a signal.
Or, if she agrees, you could record one of those conversations that suddenly turn into her sister harassing you with screaming.
There’s hope for all of you IF her sister is helped to recognize that she needs a medical check for any physical reason for her behaviour, also counselling help to seek the source of these sudden outbursts.
Without alarming her about this, these checks are essential since some personality changes and inappropriate behaviours like sudden unreasonable anger, may result from a brain tumour growing over time.
So, too, some mental health disorders cause explosive anger such as you describe.
If her sister’s suffering from anything like these, you and your fiancée could be doing her a life-saving favour by getting her to a professional who can diagnose and treat her.
This is not the time to dissociate from her.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who suspected that a married woman involved in polyamory had come on to her to consider joining the couple (May 19):
Reader – “When someone comes out, the appropriate thing is to recognize that they’re sharing their involvement/membership in a vulnerable, and often persecuted, minority group.
“They’re being vulnerable and being themselves, perhaps because they hope the other person will accept them for who they are.
“Polyamory is about as accepted as homosexuality was in the 70s. There are a lot of people who are deeply closeted about this personal aspect of their lives.
“The woman who wrote was confused by this sharing, as monogamous people often are, because it’s outside their experience.
“It's just like how straight people used to be confused about what it means when a gay person comes out. Many still are!”
Ellie – You bring a thoughtful perspective on this.
While I was aware through her much longer story than I had room to print, that this woman believed the other woman’s approach was a come-on to join the couple in sexual behaviour about which she’s not comfortable, I take your point.
The other woman had shared something.
When someone you know opens up to you about their sexuality, it’s just as likely about them, not you. If they’re revealing something so very personal, they’re also trusting you with that information.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose husband’s addicted to teen porn (May 15):
Reader – “If she separates, he’ll be granted access to the children - maybe initially supervised but eventually supervision may end.
“It’d be up to the court, which doesn’t always make the most rational decisions, even regarding children’s best interests.”
Ellie – The woman has to insist that this man’s teen porn watching is not allowed when living with her two teenage daughters (previous marriage).
He must get addiction therapy and show evidence of changed behaviour.
If not, she then has to protect her daughters. Also his lack of intimacy with her and preference for masturbation while watching porn, is an added reason for ending their marriage.
Given that he’s not her daughters’ biological father, plus given any evidence which she produces in court about the teen porn, it’s unlikely he’d be granted access to these teenage girls.
Tip of the day:
Repeated sudden angry outbursts call for health checks of the person’s physical and/or mental health.