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I have a situation in my family involving my brother. His

wife is very controlling and...
I have a situation in my family involving my brother. His wife is very controlling and. We have had many incidences over the years. Some very volatile. She has made it over the years so that our families have very little interaction (mostly obligatory such as holidays).
Today she had words with my 83 yo mother and caused another situation.
My brother called me to see if my Mom talked to me about it and she had. After discussing the incident, I asked him how things were between them. (From the outside it looks like they are getting along)
He said, "Oh, everything's great for everyone except me. As long as I do everything the way she wants, it's great. I don't speak up because I don't want to live in hell for 10 days."
I am concerned for his mental health. He has dealt with bouts of severe depression in the past. 2 years ago it was very bad. I think since that happened he is acting in such away to keeo away from conflict for his own sanity.
Can you give me your insight. And any suggestions to help him? I am afraid for him.
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Answered in 1 hour by:
4/29/2013
Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,168
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
Verified
Dr. L :

Helllo,

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. L :

I am sorry that your brother is in this unhealthy relationship. It certainly does sound like he has chosen to reduce the emotional pain in his life by giving in to his wife and abiding by her controlling behavior. That is very unfortunate.

Dr. L :

First of all, it is very hard to sit back and let someone treat your mother disrespectfully ***** ***** to hear that she also has your brother in a tightly controlled relationship. I can understand how this weighs on your mind.

Dr. L :

As to your brother, I would encourage you to spend some time with him talking about his life and seeing what he would like to do about his wife. He likely needs a support person....someone he can talk honestly and freely with. Walking on egg-shells around the house will take its toll. It might keep the peace, but deep inside your brother may be feeling resentment, restricted from enjoying life, and at war with himself.

Dr. L :

We only have one life to live. We are not going to get a second chance to find joy, true love, and a happiness. Unfortunately, your brother is compromising his own life to keep his wife happy. That's a sad situation.

Dr. L :

Counseling is still a good option. Working with a therapist he can address his own depression and unhappiness and work to bring joy into his life. At the same time, being able to talk honestly with you and sharing some of his frustrations about life might be a very good thing.

Dr. L :

I see you are offline right now, when you come online I will be notified.

Dr. L :

Thank you.

Customer:

Thank you for your reply and concern for me as well. As you can see I woke up at 4:30 a.m. My mind is disturbed, again, due to this situation. (this has been going on, off and on for years) As you said my brother is compromising his own life. He told me last night, he does not enjoy anything about life anymore. He used to like going to work and getting a job done but that is gone now. He doesn't care if he fails. This is difficult to hear because he was a very fun loving, happy person.

Customer:

I truly don't know what to advise him because we have discussed leaving her and that brings up the issue of hurting the children and financial concerns. There is alot involved in making that decision. So, right now he is living like this. That's why I said I am afraid for him.

Customer:

Of course, when I have asked about counseling he says she would never go because she doesn't think there's anything wrong with herself.

Customer:

I also, wonder sometimes what my sister in laws perception is. I am 11 yrs. older than him and saw him grow up. I remember alot. He was diagnosed as a child as hyperactive, had diffculty in school. Is he difficult for her to deal with?

Customer:

I wonder how long will he be able to live like this.

Customer:

It feels like he is cornered and has no way to move.

Customer:

He told me last night that this is not how he thought life would turn out. He said, "How many more years do I have left?" I said, "Why would you say that?" He said,"Well Daddy died at 72, what do I have 20, 25 more years? I'm not long for this world."

Customer:

He asked me if it would be alright if he got a girlfriend so he would have someone to do things with. He said his wife never wants to do anything. He doesn't care if he got caught.

Customer:

As I said this is a guy who loved life and everyone loved him. Now, she keeps his friends away as he puts it.

Customer:

It's difficult to sort out especially being so close to the situation.

Dr. L :

Good Morning,

Dr. L :

You are correct in thinking that he is cornered. Still...he does have choices and this is what he needs help to see. He can "choose" to stay in the relationship. He can "choose" to leave the relationship. He can "choose" to have an affair. He can also "choose" to get individual therapy so that he can better understand the dilemma he is in and to gain the strength of character to take charge of his own life.

Dr. L :

Several of the things he told you are concerning to me. When he talks about how little time he has left, when he speaks of getting a girlfriend, when he mentions that he is disinterested in life...these sound like the words of a desperate and depressed man.

Dr. L :

I'm glad he is willing to talk to you about these things as it is important that he has someone to confide in. I do understand the issues with divorce and how this impacts kids and finances. However, if he is in a loveless marriage in which he feels cornered and in which he has lost his "voice"...do you think that this impacts the kids? Are they seeing a model of marriage that is healthy...or one that is confining and destructive? These are things a therapist could help him examine.

Dr. L :

You asked if your brother's behavior is difficult for his wife to deal with. If that's a reason for her displeasure with him and her control, then that's a pretty sad statement on their marriage. No life partner is perfect...and we either learn to accept the flaws and humanness of our partner...or the marriage does not survive.

Dr. L :

Here again is the issue of choice....and he can choose to be beaten down or choose to get healthy with therapy or even by leaving the relationship if she is unwilling to treat him as a marriage partner.

Dr. L :

Your brother's depression is worrisome. If he is taking medication he should certainly stay on that. If he has not been recently evaluated by his physician or a psychologist, I encourage that to happen.

Dr. L :

I can understand your worries for your brother's mental health. It does not sound like he is in a very stable place emotionally. I would encourage you to check in with him frequently and to help him get to therapy. His best hope for stability is to address his depression and to work to better understand his life choices.

Customer:

Dr. L. Thank you very much for your help. I will have to talk to my brother and help him decide what he wants to do next. I will encourage him to go to couseling again. 2 yrs. ago when he was very depressed he did go to see his MD and then a psychologist. He had to, he was physically ill from it. He told the psychologist everything (He allowed me to go in. He was very dependent on me for a number of weeks.) but he never returned for a second visit. He said he didn't want to be that person. He heard himself talking to the psychologist and said to himself "I can't believe this is me saying these things. I can't let this happen." He was disgusted that it was happening. He had mentioned thoughts of hurting himself at that time. Verbalizing it to the Dr. really impacted him. And you know, at the time, I was going to the Drs. with him (MD and psych and his wife never asked about any of it to me) I think she talked to him a little about it, I forget now, but I thought it was very odd that she didn't discuss it with me. I know if it was my husband, I would be all over that. I know he saw his MD recently but I'm not sure if he mentioned anything about his mental state. As I thought more about it today I remembered after that bad time 2 yrs ago he said when he was feeling better, "I love her and can't imagine not being with her." This is when he got stronger emotionally. I spent alot of time at that time talking to him and checking on him, many hours and days. How can we find a counselor that he will be comfortable with, if he agrees? He didn't like the man we went to a few years ago. As you can see, this is an ongoing issue that my extended family has been dealing with for a long time. As I'm telling you, I realize how complex and long-standing it is.

Customer:

I feel like I'm running on and on, but that's the kind of roller-coaster ride it has been for years.

Customer:

I do talk to my husband about it when it comes up but I know he is tired of the same story. I feel I have to tell him so it doesn't eat me up inside.

Customer:

I know I don't know you and have never met you but I want to thank you again for what you do and helping me sort it out.

Customer:

I'm an RN and I deal with tough situations almost everyday. Howver, it's so difficult when it's your close family.

Dr. L :

Yes...I can only imagine how difficult this is for you. And certainly it is tiring for others because they see no change and are likely think it will just go on and on.

Dr. L :

I will leave you a website that will help you find a therapist for your brother. It's really sad that he was unwilling to take the session he had more seriously and see that it would have been beneficial to continue.

Dr. L :

Please see:

Dr. L :

www.psychologytoday.com

Dr. L :

You will see an icon at the top of the page that says: Find a Therapist

Dr. L :

Click on this link. By putting in your zip code a list of therapists will appear with their biographies. You can read through these and chose a few that you feel are good prospects. Then call to see if what their experience is with people like your brother who are caught in a controlling relationship. It would be important to tell them about his past depression and overall health.

Customer:

I will take a look at that site. Thank you

Dr. L :

You are very welcome.

Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,168
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
Verified
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Dr. L
Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,168
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