Comments about ‘Ask Angela: My sister treats her husband terribly — I need to say something’

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Published: Saturday, Aug. 10 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Rule of Law
Pittsburgh, PA

Agree. It sounds like your brother-in-law has a personality that is not very assertive. Trying to encourage him to be assertive at worst could backfire, and make him either unpleasant to be around, or self-conscious and withdrawn.


As one that comes from a broken home it would do good for the sister-in-law to speak with the sister rather than the husband. But if she does speak with the husband perhaps her mother could join or even the father. In saying that, the best advice would be to suggest they sit down with their bishop and talk about what marital problems they are having if they are members of the LDS faith. If not, then their spiritual leader or a trained professional to handle situations like this.

No husband or wife likes to be verbally abused. Marriage takes a lot of work and sometimes there is a dominate spouse. But if it continues as portrayed in this article it will drive the individual who is being abused to do certain things that would be deemed not appropriate. This type of situation is a double edged sword that will either benefit the marriage or destroy it in the end. No one likes to hear the word divorce, but on occasion it maybe necessary.

The church does its best to keep couples together. The rest is up to us as individuals. Agency is very important to both.

Bremerton, WA

I totally agree with Angela. As much as we love our families and want things to be good for them, it isn't our place to get in the middle of our siblings lives. Especially when it comes to their marriages or children. One of my sisters still holds a grudge after being given "unsolicited advice" over 20 years ago. It just isn't worth the chance of a family rift with members siding with one or the other sibling.

Riverdale, MD

My guess is that the husband is feeling pretty beaten down and could use some boosting up. I would see if you could find a way to let him know that you think he's a good guy and deserves to be treated well. It is also possible that your sister has depression or something and this harsh treatment is a symptom. Seek HER out and ask what's going on, see if you can give support.

There's a good discussion on the blog Single Dad Laughing that begins with a post called Worthless men and the women who make them. I can't seem to post the link in a comment but you can google it.

Steven S Jarvis
Orem, UT

Letting him know you appreciate him is by far the best thing you can do.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

I know better than get in the middle of a dog fight. because both dogs will go after you. It's not only a bad idea but dangerous one.

Portland, Oregon

Don't forget prayer. Humbly seeking wisdom and help through the Holy Spirit can often have better and farther reaching results than anything we can do ourselves.


She should tell her sister off publicly if she speaks disrespectfully of her husband publicly, but should not express sympathy privately to the husband.

Redlands, CA

If the sister-in-law speaks privately to the husband, it's going to come back to the sister, who will then be pretty sure that her sister is hitting on her husband, and that will not end well. For anyone. If the sister needs to speak with anyone, it needs to be the sister, framing it as "I've been a little concerned about how and Brett. Is something going on that is stressing you out? I feel that we are all together, I want to leave to let you two argue it out, but it's at a family dinner and I want to see everyone."
Sometimes it does take a neutral third party to remind people they aren't in their own world; others are watching.

language fan
longview, wa

Your sister's behavior is your sister's responsibility, not your brother-in-law's. It is her job to control her behavior, not his. Express appreciation to him for who he is and what he does, but don't give him advice or tell him things would be fine if only he were different. Speak to your sister instead and gently share your concerns with her. She may have serious issues she needs to address with the help of a professional. Also, keep in mind that both spouses have said and done things in private that are worse than the things you have witnessed. This is true of all couples. Outsiders, even family, can only see the tip of the iceberg.

Tustin, CA

Agree with Angela. Giving any advice to the husband will backfire. If this person were to do *anything,* it should be to point out to her own sister how lucky she is to have the husband she has. Even there, the writer needs to keep in mind that she has no idea what else goes on in their private lives.

Maureen Fepuleai
New Zealand, 00

I would sit down together with them, tell them both how much I love them and then tell them lovingly what my concerns are, which they have every right to tell me to "mind my own business", but at least I have been open and honest with two people who I love and know that I love them too. I would never go behind my sister's back and talk to her husband about what is my perception of what is going on. We never know the full story, well intentioned observation or not. :-)

utah cornhusker

That would not be good. I have 6 siblings and would not dream of talking to there spouses about it. Years ago, there was a peyton place type situation between 2 siblings and there marriage. I would maybe ask your sister if she is under stress and maybe she is suffering from depression anxiety etc that might be causing it.

Medical Lake, Washington

I agree with Angela.

I just think it is refreshing to remind us that men are not the only ones who do not treat their spouses good.

Harwich, MA

Angela is right on this one.
I have a very similar personality to this husband. My ex wife just like the mentioned sister. After 21 years, kids out of school, I left and never looked back.
Best thing I ever did for myself. You may ask, why didn't you stand up for your self. I did once, and got punched in the face. There you go.

moniker lewinsky
Taylorsville, UT

Of course, if it were a man browbeating his wife, screaming at her, and going on regular tirades, we would be up in arms.
Yes, most people who are abusive bullies don't like being called on it.
DH and I used to be friends with a couple and the wife would regularly rag on her husband in front of whoever was around. He never did it quite right though it wasn't for lack of trying. It got to where I just couldn't stand to hang with them anymore.
Invite sis over for a Jon & Kate marathon. The later episodes. Then ask her if she's considered what her life as a single mother might be like. Because there are plenty of women who are looking for a decent guy and who wouldn't mind snatching one away from a meanie wife. And after years of being mistreated, right or wrong, it doesn't take much.

If it were a man abusing his wife, nobody would suggest that maybe this arrangement "works" for them. Please.

Selma, OR

I would probably say something when I observed the behavior happening. i.e. "Wow, sis, that is SUCH a nice way to act toward someone you love." and leave it at that.


I agree with Angela that talking to the brother-in-law is a bad idea. I agree that doing anything needs to be approached very carefully. I don't agree that there are not certain ways of treating a spouse that are just fundamentally wrong. It doesn't matter if it "works for them" or not. There are eternal repercussions for mistreating another human being. I'm not going to touch the word abuse because it is such a loaded term that has ceased to have any clear meaning. Suffice to say that there are many wicked ways of treating another person that don't involve physically striking them. Not all do, or should, rise to the level of being illegal. That doesn't make them any less wrong.

I think that our society has drifted to far in the not saying anything direction. We need to move back to having more societal norms that people are expected (by society, not the legal system) to conform with. It is fine if someone chooses to be a non-conformist, but there should be social repercussions.


Mind your own business. If your brother-in-law is willing to put up with his wife, then it should be no concern of yours. It seems as though you have more interest in the welfare of your brother-in-law than you should. And, why are you picking him up from the airport, doesn't he have friendss or family members that could give him a ride? Or better yet, can't he take a cab?

You are too much involved in the life of your sister's marriage and you should take a step back and perhaps develop a relationship with your own future husband, if you don't already have one.

Bountiful, UT

Also, be prepared for your sister to think you don't know what you are talking about. BUT, you really don't know what their marriage is like. Maybe there is a lot of stress that you are unaware of and your sister doesn't know any other way of dealing with it. Angela is right. Talk to your sister, don't go behind her back and talk to her husband. Show your sister that you love her and remember that we can't pull the mote out of our brother's (sister's) eye until we have pulled the beam out of our own.

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