Giving unsolicited marital advice can backfire — try to show you care in a different way.

Dear Angela,

It infuriates me to see how my sister treats her husband. He is an amazingly loving man who respects her and cares for her but all she does is complain about him and treat him like a servant. You may think I’m exaggerating but I’m not; and I’m not the only one who feels this way. I have the opportunity to pick him (my brother-in-law) up from the airport in a couple of days and during the drive I want to give him some advice on how to handle my sister. I want to tell him not to put up with her behavior but to stand up for himself. I think if he hears this advice from someone who obviously loves my sister he’ll know I’m not attacking her but rather just trying to help the two of them have a better marriage. What do you think of this plan?



Dear Sister-in-law,

This sounds like a very bad plan. I can almost guarantee that your sister is going to get mad at you — and secretly talking to her husband about her is inappropriate. That may sound harsh but it’s true.

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If you feel like you absolutely need to give your opinion on someone else’s marriage (maybe there is a concern about physical or emotional abuse), then talk directly to your sister. Tell her how her actions (that you have witnessed) are coming across from an outside perspective, but avoid telling her what she should or should not do. Things may seem like they’re a certain way but maybe when the two of them are together things are different and better. Plus, as crazy as it may sound, how things are may work for them. You never know.

In short, don’t interject yourself into someone else’s personal marital issues. It’s not your place, even if you’re intentions are good and even if they are family.



Readers: This is just one perspective — what suggestions would you give our friend? Do you think it's a good idea to give unsolicited marital advice to family members?

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Angela Trusty is a young adult advice columnist. Twitter: angelatrusty