Brother-in-Law possibly driving family apart – Family & People


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I have been having a problem with my brother-in-law. He is not directly doing something to effect me. But his behavior is effecting everyone in this small family that I’m willing to do what it takes to prevent the family from falling apart.

He has a very good job that gets him 6 figure income. However, he has a money spending issue. In the past he had a large amount of debt, and his parents bailed him out of it by some of their retirement money.

He got a divorce a couple of years ago after only two years of marriage. He and his ex-wife have a 4-year-old daughter. When they got a divorce, not only he didn’t fight to get part of the house, he didn’t even try to get partial custody of his child. Reason being, he was caught chatting online with some random female after they had an incident that we thought would let to divorce. They decided trying things out. Not only a month later, he was caught chatting online. With that background, he was threatened by his ex-wife while going through divorce process, and gave up on getting partial custody.

Now he has a live-in girlfriend who wants to marry him and have their own family. But his ex-wife having full custody of their child, his girlfriend is trying to convince him to go to the court to win 50% custody. He has consulted a lawyer a few times to see what the chances are to gain 50%. Not only it will cost tens of thousands of dollars, he was told that he would probably only get 30%.

Now he approached us a few months ago about problems he was starting to have with his girlfriend, mainly because of her pressuring effort to sort out the custody issue. I understand her perspective, but at the same time it seems that she is about to cross the line. They are not even engaged!! I ask my brother-in-law if he is happy with her, and if he is still open to her advice and suggestion. The answer was no.

A few days ago, I found out that he has about $40,000 in debt. Apparently his girlfriend knows about it. Not only he can’t even afford to go to the court if he decided to do so, with that much debt, how could anybody in right state of mind think about starting a new life with someone else.

He asked me not to tell his parents about his debt. I don’t want to. His parents will be so hurt, I can’t even imagine how that can effect their health. I’m that concerned. After his divorce, this family became only the parents, my husband, his brother (the one in question here), and I. I’m very upset with the fact that what he is doing is very respectful to his parents. He and the rest of the members of this family have somewhat confronting relationship. I tried to be the neutral one. And I had been. Now that I know what is going on, I cannot let him hurt his parents again. I’m determined to do whatever it takes to prevent that. I have talked to him. He is the type of person who says that he understands and makes everything look OK. I’ve seen where that has led this family. I’m not about to see that happen again.

I feel that he will not change. Am I supposed to just be quiet and hope that the same won’t happen? Or should I do whatever it takes to make him realize what he is doing to us?


He is the type that goes through life making bad decisions and thinking if he ignores them they will go away. There is nothing you can do to change him.
If he tries to go to his parents for help I would remind them that it didn’t fix any problems for him and only created a hardship for them and he needs tough love. Other than that there is really nothing you can do to make his life and the way he lives it right. He most likely is happy with the way his life is and doesn’t see a need to change it. The only thing that will change him is when he is directly effected by the consequences of his actions and he will not see that as long as he has people bailing him out, If he is stupid enough to marry his girlfriend or have babies with her when he has said no to the questions you asked him about his relationship with her then no words will change him. He is most likely the type that has to hit rock bottom before he wakes up.

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