My brother-in-law is chauvinistic, narcissistic and very racist, especially to the racial group I belong. He rants about people of my background, before me, my wife and children. Other members of his family don’t confront him, whether they agree or not. Family gatherings are frequent. He’s already alienated his entire wife's family - they refuse to deal with him.
I now refuse to attend any function where he’ll be and this is causing friction between my wife and me. Family is very important to her and blood is thicker than common sense. She feels that I should sweep this under the rug. I’m unsure what to do.
- Insulted in Edmonton
You had it almost right: avoid the Bigmouth Bigot when you can. But there’s more to do – when he spews racism in your presence, confront him. Do this for your children’s sake even more than your own… and for your wife’s sake, too, though she’s ignoring how important it is. Racism is ignorance and fear, often expressed through bullying. Your family needs to stand up for its integrity, with you leading the charge. Speak firmly and with confidence: Tell him you won’t tolerate his nastiness; that he’s negating the freedoms and principles of his country; that he’s the cause of discomfort and distancing within the family. Then leave.
Your wife can attend some family gatherings without you, if she chooses. She could also invite her parents and other siblings over to your place, to maintain family contact.
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My husband and I are high-school sweethearts, married for 13 years, yet he doesn’t trust me. He’s jealous of every man I come into contact with and it causes incredible stress on the relationship. We have two kids, and I’m considering leaving the marriage. This will kill my children but I can’t stand being accused of things I’d never consider.
- Driven Away
You need a well-thought-out plan, not a hasty escape.
Though I empathize, you must protect yourself and your kids from a worse overreaction, if you suddenly run away. It’ll confirm his suspicions, even if there’s no man involved. It’ll cause emotional trauma to your children, and it may not remove you from his reach. Instead, I urge you to talk to a counsellor - a female - and invite your husband to come too, for marital therapy. If he won’t go, then go alone. In the therapy process, you can work on your options, or plan a legally sound separation with the children’s best interests in mind.
Since our marriage three years ago, my husband has gained 120 pounds. Our family doctor told him he won't last long this way. His blood pressure has risen and his cholesterol is high. All he does is lie down, watch TV and eat. He sneaks food, and constantly buys junk food. He used to be caring, now he’s always tired and cranky, saying cruel things to me, e.g. that I'm only interested in making myself happy (though I’m busy with two children, one a baby). I've tried getting him to go on walks but he always has an excuse. He also wants to save money for him to spend, saying that he doesn't have anything for himself anymore.
I think he’s depressed but I don't know how to help him. I told him that I was leaving (which I don't want to do), and he threatened to take the kids away from me.
- Overweight Hubby
Hubby’s problem is bigger than he is, and he needs better help, not threats.
The link between his weight gain and your marriage suggest he’s overwhelmed by the change – perhaps he’s overreacting to responsibility and/or fear of failure. His doctor should be told of his personality changes along with the weight, so she can assess and treat his apparent depression. She should then refer him to a behaviour modification specialist who’ll probe why your husband is addicted to food and how to replace that self-destructive choice.
Yes, people with obesity are at risk of developing serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, amongst other medical issues which can contribute to premature death.
Tip of the day:
Not confronting a relative’s repeated racist remarks is tantamount to accepting them.