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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My brother-in-law is planning to marry a controlling and

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My brother-in-law is planning to marry a controlling and abusive woman. My husband is slotted to be the best man and daughter has been asked to be flower girl. The engagement happened 2 months ago and since then the wedding has been called off twice. We are updated on their battles by brother-in-law and, the fiance recently contacted me to complain about trust issues. We are aware that she monitors his cell phone and computer so our contact with him is limited. She also claims that their house is haunted and so he is not permitted to visit any family for vacations/holidays overnight because she does not want to be left alone. He continues to stay with her and wants us to have dinner with them and continue to agree to be a part of the wedding. What should we do?
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

Your brother in law's fiancée is already showing signs of abusive behavior which does not bode well for their marriage. She sounds very controlling and unresponsive to his needs. If he has called the wedding off a couple of times, that is a good sign that he might be aware of the situation and has doubts. But if she has called it off, then she may be using that as a way to control him.

It is hard to stand by while you see what your brother in law is faced with. Marrying this woman is going to tie him to a future of abuse and pain unless she is willing to change. So talking to him now is vital.

If he is the brother of your husband, then you may want to ask your husband to talk with him. Let him know that you both care about him but that you have some concerns about the issues you are seeing with his relationship. Try to keep all your statements neutral and non judging. And keep the conversation brief if he shows any signs of becoming upset or defensive.

If he does not listen or becomes upset at what you say, then let it go. Although you can see what he is getting into, he may not and you don't want your relationship to become oppositional and lose your chance to be there for him in the future. Try to stay close with him to give him the chance to turn to you after he marries in case things become worse and he needs help. By being supportive and non judgmental, you can help him see how destructive his relationship is and he may eventually leave.

I hope this has helped you,
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

We become very anxious when we know that we have to spend time with her. She allows him to invite us to dinner and, if we are unable to make it, she uses that against him as proof that his family doesn't like her or doesn't care about him. Is there a way to cope with her in social situations so that she gets the message that we are onto her abusive ways without exposing brother-in-law to punishment? By the way, she is the one who calls off the wedding and she recently kicked him out of the house and he had to stay at a hotel. She told him that he should "blow his head off" or "slit his wrists" because he is worthless. We are very afraid that they will try to have children after they are married and that the child will become the leverage that she uses to continue the abuse.

Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do with someone with someone who behaves in such a way. It sounds like she might have a personality disorder and if she does, she will only use any attempt you make at letting her know you are on to her as a way to hurt you or your brother in law.

In dealing with someone with a personality disorder, it is always important to set boundaries. You have to protect yourself. And the more you understand about her, the better you will be able to help yourself and your brother in law. Here are some resources to help you:


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

She has chosen to communicate with me regarding complaints that she has about my brother-in-law and their relationship. She seems to want me to side with her. I try to offer her comfort during our calls and tell her to calm down, eat something, take a warm shower, that this time will pass and that she has to get some rest so that she doesn't make herself sick. I stay on the phone with her because it makes us feel better to know where she is when they are fighting because at least we know that she is not physically harming or stalking him. After they make up, she doesn't call me. Am I doing the right thing by being available to her? We feel like we are hostages in this situation as well. Also, they are taking a precana class at their parish and scored very low on the compatibility quiz. They are in premarital counselling at the recommendation of the deacon. Should we contact the deacon to let him know what is going on?

It is ok that you talk with her and try to maintain open communication with her. That is probably the only way to ensure that you will have some contact with any kids they may have. But your involvement should not go further than that. Calling the Deacon could backfire and you may end up cut off if she ever finds out. Yes, it is like being held hostage unfortunately. But until your brother in law sees his way out of this situation, you will need to play along so you can have some influence and offer support to the future children and to your brother in law.


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Thank you so much!

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