My brother's partner of six years (living together three years) loves him very much. However, my family and I are frequently irked by his seeming wrong-headed advice to my brother.
Examples: Encouraging him to call in sick, to have a lazy day; saying that certain of his work outputs are "good enough" though they barely pass muster.
And, telling him to change his anti-depressant dose.
Given their long, stable relationship, should I remind my brother that his partner is often wrong on key topics, and risk causing conflict?
Concerned or Intrusive?
Deal straight. Talk with your brother about him, without laying blame on his partner.
Be clear that you’re doing so out of your love and concern for him as his sister.
Example: Ask how he’s feeling and lead the conversation to whether his medication is working.
That allows you to state that everyone on anti-depressants should check with their doctor if there’s a change in effectiveness.
You can also state firmly that it’s never wise for patients to change their doses without discussion with their doctor.
Similarly, when chatting about his work, if he says it’s “good enough,” ask if that satisfies him or whether he’d like to do better.
In other words, bring encouragement of him to your talks, rather than your doubts about his partner’s influence.
However, if you ever see an obvious need for more direct comments, include his partner in the talk, based on your both wanting the best for your brother.
Early in my life, my mother pulled away from her own family members.
We don’t share any similar interests either.
I’ve had therapy and believe we now have a healthy, loving mother-daughter relationship.
We’ve been relatively close but haven’t made big deals out of birthdays and such as adults.
Now, since I had a baby, she insists we celebrate birthdays, baby showers, etc. multiple times, to all be together… but without my in-laws.
She also wants our planned after-wedding brunch to be held separately, with me and my new husband going with each of our families.
I refused. The brunch will celebrate our union, together. She now doesn’t want to attend.
She only stayed for an hour at my baby shower, because I chose a date and place that she didn’t like.
She recently said that she’s hosting a second birthday dinner for me, with my in-laws not invited, because at the dinner my fiancé organized only HIS family was there (not true: my parents attended).
My fiancé’s hurt by her comment.
My in-laws and I have similar values, interests and activities. While we do see them more often, we spend more time with my parents when together, sometimes even sleeping over, so all see the baby equally.
I feel her behaviour comes from deep insecurity created by her own family relationships.
How do I reassure her that he won’t lose us, while also being clear that I won’t exclude my in-laws?
My Insecure Mom
Tell her that this is the best of family life.
She’s deeply important to you and to her grandchild, and your in-laws are also important in your life.
If she doesn’t get that, say you’d be glad to go to family counselling with her.
Explain that, given her past distance from family, you and she now have the important task of building a strong bond for now and the future.
Tell her that being comfortable with your fiancé and in-laws increases that bond.
FEEDBACK Regarding the adopted 18-year-old whose birth mother is seeking contact (Sept. 10):
Reader – “While it’s the daughter's choice, I think not enough credit is given to the birth mother as she should be acknowledged for choosing to have the child in the first place.
“I’m solidly pro-choice, but anyone who gives up a child for adoption is the real hero, as the sacrifice is very great and selfless in order to give someone life, knowing that they themselves are unable to parent that child.
“Adoption needs to be shed in a positive light as it’s the one choice that hurts the fewest people and usually creates much joy.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose extended family doesn’t accommodate her cat allergy (Sept. 19):
Reader – “Her husband’s doing his best to vouch for her. This isn’t often the case. If her in-laws are choosing the cat over their son’s wife, this speaks to deeper problems.”
Tip of the day:
Talk to a sibling about perceived problems before moving to intervene directly in his/her relationship.