Sister in a bad relationship – looking from the outside in

posted 9 months ago in Relationships
Post # 2
5215 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2016

I didn’t continue past the part where he’s an alcoholic that lets his daughter sit in a shitty diaper. I think you absolutely need to say something to your sister. If you never say anything, you’re basically silently supporting her. As it is, she may have some misgivings but think it’s off for her to think or express them. I’d tell her that, from the outside looking in, it doesn’t seem like a healthy relationship and that you think she should reconsider moving this forward (and definitely do not get married!). Make sure that you make it clear to her that you still love and support HER and that whatever she does, you will continue to love and support her, but that you couldn’t sit by and just not say anything.

Once you’ve said your piece, then you need to back off and let her make her own choices (including if she decides to remain with this person) and keep the connection and communication open.

That really sucks to have to observe a loved one in a relationship that looks terrible; I’ve been there. It’s a hard spot to be in.

Post # 3
2348 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2017

I usually think some of the situations on here fall in the “not your business category” but this one is different.  The fact that he lets the baby sit in her own mess knowing it can cause health issues such as rash is completely unacceptable. His drinking is also a problem and she recognizes it or else she wouldn’t mentiom it to you. I wouldn’t tell her that she needs to do anything. I would just bring up to her that she doesn’t seem happy from what she has shared with you and that you are very concerned with hers and your niece’s well being. The worst thing to do would be for her to have another child with him let alone get married to him. She will then be juggling 2 children alone when it’s already hard enough with one. 

Post # 4
2298 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

 I’d stay out of it. He doesn’t sound like a bad person, at all. Yes – a drinking issue. That’s his to manage.  There’s no abuse. And he didn’t recognize that his baby had a full diaper… ok. Bet that’s happened to all of us at least once. 

I’d just be quietly supportive & nonjudgemental.

Post # 5
65 posts
Worker bee

jannigirl :  just out of curiosity would your response be different if the “drinking problem” was a “drug problem”, either prescription or illegal?

Post # 6
2298 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

hartless :  illegal drugs are, by definition, illegal. So, yes. I wouldn’t advise anyone to stay in a relationship where there’s the possibility of law enforcement becoming involved. That’s a good way to get your kids taken away & opens you up to a world of trouble. 

Abuse of legal drugs is more troublesome. If prescription meds aren’t being taken as prescribed, the person soon will run out & will need to obtain their meds illegally. Thus… illegal. (See above)

I’m having a hard time thinking of a legal drug that is abused. Cigarettes. Maybe MJ. My advice would be the same for those as my original response.

Post # 8
2323 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

This is hard as you are pretty much damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I like the approach of asking your sister how she is feeling. Perhaps start with ‘you don’t seem too happy at the moment is everything ok?’ and really try to direct your questioning as to how she feels in the situation.

Then, if she says she wants things to change, perhaps help her by signposting her to some support. Ultimately though she is an adult and she needs to be the one to take the lead and decide if and when she wants to tackle these issues.

Part of me does wonder if they will start to resolve themselves a bit once he stops doing this working pattern.

As for the not taking care of his daughter, this is no excuse, but some men really lack confidence when it comes to caring for babies. As mothers our instincts take over and we ‘just get on with it’ but that can also mean we take over and try to micromanage when anyone else looks after them. I constantly have to stop myself from telling my husband how I do things or stepping in to take over. Being away so much probably means he hasn’t had the time to get over the initial ‘holy crap how do I look after this thing’.

Again that is no excuse, and he does need to MTFU and start helping when he is home, but it might give your sister more insight and help her phrase her approach to him about it.

Post # 9
525 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2018

The best thing for your sister is knowing she’s in a situation where she has the autonomy to make her own decisions. If you start whispering in her ear it will be easy for her to get confused and justify things. It sounds like she’s already conflicted. Be the sister she needs and listen to her, support her, and love the heck out of her and your niece. Try to love him too, while you’re at it – he’s your niece’s father, so it’s not likely he’ll be totally out of your life any time soon. And then that way if your sister decides she’s unhappy with the situation she doesn’t have to second guess herself – she knows her choice is her own and that she’s got the support system she needs to be safe and bounce back.

Post # 11
331 posts
Helper bee

I’m another vote for saying something. I was in a relationship like this that eventually turned abusive. I ignored red flags partially because I justified them by thinking, “well, no one else has said anything about this being a red flag, so it must be fine.” I found out after things ended that everyone had seen them and been troubled, but hadn’t said anything. I wish someone had said something (gently). 

Post # 12
985 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

I do think you should tell your sister your concerns. Especially as there is a child involved. If she’s constantly venting to you about her relationship, she may be open to hearing your concerns on him. Perhaps that’s just the kick she needs, for her sister to open her eyes that this really is a huge issue.

If she isn’t open to your thoughts on the matter, well, then you can back off. You’ve said your piece and that’s that.

Post # 13
803 posts
Busy bee

I’ve been in abusive relationships, but right now that poor man just sounds depressed. I think he needs therapy not to be left! I’m normally on the ‘you must leave’ bandwagon but at the moment I don’t see anything but a poor man that’s so depressed he can’t even stop drinking to look after his daughter. He probably feels inadequate and worried he’ll mess up! I’d suggest help way before you suggest she leave him. If he refuses help then that’s a different matter but it doesn’t even sound like she’s approached the subject yet!

Post # 14
816 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

ash101 :  I think you can say something to her, Bee. You guys are close and I think she would respect your honesty. I think there’s a way to do it, without coming across too holier than thou.

I have a similar situation to you, in that my brother is in a toxic relationship (albeit not to the same degree as your sister’s). We have a very close relationship and when he came to me for advice/ to vent, I sort of reflected everything back on him. I didn’t bad mouth his Girlfriend at all, I just focused on their lack of compatibility and wanting different things and how did he see his life in five years? Like this?

I get how hard it is. But you don’t need to be awful about him. She knows you will be there for her either way.

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