My younger sister’s boyfriend of five years (since late high-school) began treating her badly over a year ago.
My sister’s very smart and was working hard at university, as was he, to hopefully get into medical school together.
However, her boyfriend started to tell her she’d never reach her goal.
He said she didn’t have the brains or the right personal qualities (which he claimed he possessed) to become a doctor.
He undermined her self-confidence so badly she’d have crying fits and would miss classes some days.
She hid all this from our parents (I covered for her sometimes, because she swore me to secrecy lest they insist she leave school).
Finally, her boyfriend revealed that there “couldn’t be two doctors in his future household,” so he was breaking up with her.
Devastated at first, she recovered somewhat over the summer. She’s back at school taking courses towards her goal.
Unfortunately he’s also there (they both live in their parents’ homes in our city), but she’s trying very hard to avoid and/or ignore him.
However, he still finds reasons to talk to her, suggesting they study together, collaborate on a project, etc.
She’s seeking advice from me, as she feels our parents will overreact. What do you suggest?
She’s lucky to have your strong support, and definitely needs it.
If at any time you feel she’s again in danger from this guy’s emotional abuse, gather all her support forces, including your parents and the university’s student services.
She needs counselling to bolster her resistance to someone with whom she was close through many young years.
Under family consideration should be: 1) sending him a lawyer’s letter describing how he badgered her and risks being reported to the university and the police unless he ends all contact; 2) her changing schools for the courses she needs (if a move to another is possible and affordable); 3) getting a police restraining order against her ex-boyfriend if that becomes necessary.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who “pays for sex because his wife lost interest” (Sept. 28):
Reader – “I know tons of women like this. Sex becomes an obligation.
“It’s called “she’s just not that into you.”
“Don’t think it’s anything more than that.”
Reader #2 – “Although you make valid points throughout your answer, shouldn't you tell him not to seek the services of a prostitute? Telling him that cheating on his wife is okay, is a no-no.
“Wouldn’t it be better if the couple determine the root cause of the issue through counselling and talking, rather than him jumping the gun and paying for sex?”
Ellie - As the man wrote, he’d already turned to “paying for sex.” And when he tries talking to his wife about resuming intimacy, she becomes “aloof,” rejecting that conversation.
There was also no indication that she had considered seeing her doctor or a therapist to explore why sex no longer interested her.
To answer your valid question: Yes, of course it’s better for married people to discuss changes in their sexual feelings or routines, and to seek counselling if there’s a deeper problem which is the root cause.
But this wife hasn’t done anything of the kind and shows no interest in changing her mind.
No, I don’t think it’s okay, in a marriage in which there’s ongoing partnership, to pay for sex or find someone for sex-only.
But I did suggest that he discuss this possibility with his wife, first.
FEEDBACK Regarding the “lazy husband” who doesn’t want to help put kids to bed after his work day, or do household chores since his wife’s “the homemaker” who’s self-employed (Sept. 27):
Reader – “When both people are working so much and raising kids it makes a lot of sense to get a housekeeper to come in once a week.
“If he makes a fuss about the cost, she can tell him she has reached her physical capacity to keep up with it and needs help.
“It doesn't cost a fortune and will make their lives and relationship much smoother.
“If their budget is tight, they should rework it. Most of us have so many "extras" we can do without (coffee from a shop vs. homemade, huge TV cable costs, etc.), that it’s very likely she can find a way to make the cost of weekly cleaning and laundry help work out within the budget.”
Tip of the day:
A lawyer’s warning letter about a police restraining order are two approaches to ending harassment.