Post # 1
Typically I avoid asking for advice on the Bee because I don’t find my situations worthy of a group advice session but I’m at a loss with this one.
My sister has been married for 8 years now. They got married when she was 21 and she will be 30 this year. They have 3 children under the age of 6 and she’s very stressed out. Currently they are renting a home from a friend while they are looking for land to build their “forever” home on. My brother-in-law works out of state running his own company because there is so little work in this area at the moment.
At the moment then, that leaves my sister as SAH single mom basically. She brings my nephew to school every day, which is an hour round trip drive. She watches my niece who is 3 and is still nursing and caring for my nephew who is 5 months old. All while trying to keep their home in decent shape because once in awhile a showing pops up, plus trying to get to the gym 3 to 4 times a week, managing the finances of the business and being a good mom (attending concerts, conferences, dealing with discipline, etc.) She’s warn out.
This past weekend was pretty traumatic for my sister. My BIL was home but my sister was unsure of whether he would be so she made plans to go to a city wide garage sale for the weekend with my mother. They went out of town but left the children with my dad. My BIL was home previous to them leaving but still let the children go to my dads house and visited them for a short time on Saturday but did not bring them home or spend much quality time with them.
This is typical behavior for him. From the beginning my sister did not often leave my nephew with him because he used to gag while changing diapers and is not the most responsible person in the world. So now this behavior is continued and she does not often ask him to watch the children. On Sunday (Mother’s day) my BIL pestered my sister to clean the house before a showing that was coming up. So while she vacuumed he watched a baseball game. Then he said they were going to have steaks for dinner (without a question of what she may like) and returned from the grocery store in the middle of the day with some flowers and a card. My sister felt this was an extreme after thought. She was very disappointed that day.
Yesterday shit hit the fan. My BIL was again pestering my sister about getting the house clean but making little effort himself to assist in the cleaning. They got into a fight and he called her LAZY! They started yelling at one another and my nephew and niece heard the entire thing. My nephew started to cry because he was scared. Later she asked him to watch my youngest nephew while she took a shower and when she got out of the shower my nephew was crying by himself in the living room while my BIL was outside drinking with friends. Which is something he typically deems more important than family and he cannot seem to grow out of. They got into another fight and he told her that she could have fun living with my mother and good luck taking care of the kids by herself.
It’s gotten so bad my sister says that she is done and does not think that they can fix the relationship. I don’t want to be the unsupportive sister but for copious reasons this was something our family was concerned about when they got engaged. They were together about 9 months before engagement but knew each other in high school. His father was a chronic alcoholic and he grew up in a bar. He considers two bar owners his grandparents. His mother died from drug abuse as well but he barely knew her because she was never around. My sister is a member of the divorced family group and our family has definitely dealt with its share of trauma due to that.
My question is how do I be the best sister I can be without suggesting divorce. I told her the two of them need to see a marriage counselor ASAP because they cannot seem to communicate in a respectful way when they are in their home. They are very much name callers and it’s extremely difficult to keep communication open that way. I worry that they both aren’t trying hard enough to make their marriage work but I don’t want to make her feel like if it absolutely won’t work out that she has no support from me. Help Bees! How do I stay supportive yet share with her that she got married for the long haul? I see so many reasons why things aren’t working and I really think if they sought counseling that they could work through them.
Post # 3
It almost sounds like they’re not married, if he’s out of town all the time. As her sister, you owe it to her to be completely honest, even if that means bringing up divorce. Really… what would be the difference if the relationship isn’t working? She would get child support and the money to live her life the way she wants to… divorce might actually be the best thing for her if she’s not getting anything out of the marriage anyway.
That said, if she wants to work this out, maybe bringing up divorce would make him realize that she’s at a breaking point.
Good luck–this is a really tough situation.
Post # 4
@MsBrooklynA: in order for them to work out, they have to be willing to put in the work. I can see why your sister is exhausted. Divorce is one option (one that might look very good right now) but it is just one option. Another is to just separate and another is to seek help. Your job is to be there for whatever she decides to do. Good luck to you and your sister.
Post # 5
Good job on the counseling!
I know that when I was in a position like that (not nearly as strenuous but along the same lines) The best advice I ever got was from my Dad and that was not to name call. She is ONLY in control of herself so it’s her job to focus on her behaviour when these situations arise. Yes, its hard but if she can start fight fair, whether he does or not, it will help HER.. internally.
I had to do this with my verbally abusive ex-husband and it did very much so help me… the things he’d say started effecting me less and I was able to set the example of HOW the relationship was going to go.
What you can do is start praying for her & her situation… That she have the strength she needs to be the woman, mom, wife she was made to be…. that she be protected mind, body, and spirit for the things done & said to her, that she can be victorious in this battle against her marriage!
Sorry you’re seeing your sister go through this… sounds like she’s a great woman! I’ll put this on my prayer list and see if my DH and I can start praying together for your family 😉
Post # 6
I think all you can do is suggest counseling. That way they’ll be able to work out what is best for them, whether it’s divorce or staying together.
Post # 7
The best thing you can do it be supportive of your sister, be there for her just to talk to and try to help her stand up for herself. He’s obviously not pulling his weight in the “family” portion of their marriage so they need to seek some counseling. There may be some issues that he needs to deal with personally as well (based on his childhood).
I’d say IF he’s unwilling to go to counseling or unresponsive to it – she may need to get out of the relationship – regardless of how willing she is to try to make things work a marriage can’t be held together by only one party.
Post # 8
Personally, I wouldn’t offer your sister any advice right now. Chances are, with 3 young kids, she’s thought of all her options and knows best what to do for her and them. Just be there for support and to listen to her and give her a shoulder to cry on, if she’s looking for it. It’s so hard to offer the kind of advice you wish you could give (divorce or don’t) without making the person you are offering it to defensive. It’s hard to know 100% what goes on in a marriage, and she knows what happened in hers best. Just be there for her right now.
Post # 9
Honestly if I was her sister, I would tell her to leave, because she deserves better. He seems like a shitty father, and husband, and no women or child needs that, in my opnion, but I would just be there for her right now if I were you.
Post # 10
Why can’t she move with him to where he’s working? This is the just about the time that marriages get really hard. The kids are young, not enough money, stressed, tired, etc… but this is where they need to come together. Counseling should be an option. She’s already a single SAHM practically, why does it need to be permanent? Do you live close enough to take the kids so they can have a date to help out? A marriage can almost always be fixed.
Post # 11
Eeks, this is a tough one. My heart goes out to you and your family. There’s only a limited amount that you can do as a sister. There’s a few issues going on here: Your sister is run down from all of her daily responsibilities, her husband is not sharing the burden when he’s around, her husband is possibly also run down from constant traveling/not living at home, and they fight “badly” and he doesn’t have any good relationship role models. (You mention his family has a history with alcohol, but did not say he personally abuses it, so I’m less concerned about that point.)
1. Make sure she knows that you are there for her. Don’t bash her husband despite his poor behavior. Be willing to listen to her anytime. Don’t ever say “I told you so.”
2. Can you take the kids for a bit to give her a break? This might give them the time they need to work on their relationship as well. Maybe give them tickets to something when he’ll be in town and babysit the kids, or take the kids on a few Saturday mornngs.
3. Is there a closer school for the 6 year old? Can she carpool to it?
4. This can only be done for a sister or very close friend, but maybe get a book on improving relationships for her or offer to look up inexpensive counselors in the area.
Will keep thinking on this one.
Post # 12
Thank you all for your kind advice! I really appreciate what you have all shared so far. My main concern is I don’t want to necessarily tell her what to do. I very strongly hesitate to tell her to get a divorce because our own parents have been divorced since I was a newborn. I feel so strongly against getting a divorce unless absolutely necessary that I have a hard time suggesting that direction. I do understand though that if they cannot fix it she should not stay purely to avoid divorce.
@runsyellowlites: I definitely agree on the name calling. I notice how badly it effects their marriage and their children that once in awhile I catch myself doing it and I feel very badly about it. They are both very joking people and they are not PDA types so I think that was an easy transition in and an extremely difficult transition out and away from that. I will suggest the technique of changing what you can for yourself! That is great. Thank you.
@camrie: I think they are both reluctant to counseling but I would hope that with our past history she would see that she should at least make every attempt to change their marriage before just giving up.
@SoonToBeMrs.Kiss: I agree sometimes with your statements. There are times when he tries and is a good person. I try very hard not to bad mouth him because he is a part of our family and he can be really great to me but there are so many times that I want to smack him.
@Talishazwi: They could move but both of their families are from around here and I don’t know if where he is working is a permanent fix. He does construction so the work is only based off of the need for more homes or things like that. It cannot be guarnteed that they will continue to build in that area so they are reluctant to move out there. I try to watch the children as often as possible, along with my mother and father. I think my sister typically wants to keep the kids when he is home so that he will spend time with them because it greatly effects my nephew that his dad is not around very often.
@kay01: I answered a few of your questions above but the whole school issue is that they were looking for land to build their home closer to where his school is so they are renting temporarily. They did not intend to continue carting him back and forth but quite a few of their previous building sites have fell through in the plans.
Post # 13
I think the best thing you can do is to not make her problems, your problems. It’s hard to sit back and watch things play out in a way that doesn’t seem right to you, but only she really knows her situation and how best to deal with it. You can suggest all you want, but unless and until she’s ready to make some changes, or accept things as they are, all you should do is offer her support in whatever way she needs it.
It’s always hard to sit on your hands and not help someone you love, but this is hers to fix. I hope she finds the best solution for her and her family. 🙁
Post # 14
I think they ABSOLUTELY should move to where he works. They really need to share one roof and one family life. He already did not have a decent life to begin with, what with the alcoholic father and drug abusive mother. And now his current situation is not helping him either at all. He literally has NO positive energy flowing into his life. The construction field is very difficult as is, and he doesn’t have her to come home to and have a nice home cooked meal everyday and see his kids, etc.
It might not be feasible due to school, the volatile nature of his job, but really, if the marriage is suffering THIS badly, I would think that moving with him wherever he goes, even it means changing schools, will help out in the long run. Stability is important for the children where they are not having to switch schools ever so often but it’s even MORE important for the children to have a LOVING family home where both parents are there and working as a team. The good far outweigh the bad.