Low-life brother-in-law brainwashed my sister: Ask Ellie

My brother in-law is the definition of a loser. He comes from a family with a criminal past.

His sister was charged with fraud and ordered to pay thousands in restitution.

His cousin was killed. His mother chases after widowers.

Yet he somehow convinced my highly educated sister, a professional, to marry him.

He and his toxic sister have ostracized their other sister from their family because she doesn’t approve of their behaviour.

When he met my sister, he told her that he was a successful entrepreneur with a great family life.

We only learned the truth after they married.

He cleaned floors in a building. My family helped him get his current decent job.

He’s trying to rob my sister blind by asking her to purchase a vacation house and a city condo without reaching into his pocket.

He moved into my sister’s home without spending a penny or contributing to any monthly expenses.

I feel like we created a monster by helping him so much.

What’s worse is he’s turned my sister against our family by instigating a fight immediately after she gave birth to their second child.

After all the drama and dust settled, instead of apologizing for his behaviour, he continues to hide in the shadows, watching my sister defend him when she knows he’s wrong.

We’ve gotten lawyers and police involved due to his antics, but my sister appears to be brainwashed and unreasonable in her approach.

Is there hope for her to wake up and realize the damage she’s caused by marrying this low-life?

Upset Brother

My sympathies go to your sister, not to you at all, and certainly not because of what you’ve written.

In your longer email, you included graphic identifying details, all of which I’ve omitted.

You’d happily expose your sister’s life and choices, embarrass her publicly (and eventually her children) and destroy any chance for this man to succeed in his job.

Or for their marriage and family to adjust to difficulties and possibly thrive.

Back off. Let your sister form her own conclusions. Or she’ll feel forced to isolate herself from all her relatives, which is a bad result of your approach.

Reader feedback regarding the son wanting his father’s business, without his brother as partner (Nov. 25):

Reader: “The writing brother could buy his father’s business outright.

“That purchase cash becomes part of the father’s estate, later split 50/50 between both brothers.

“No need for them to work together. And dad is no longer in the middle of the two.”

Three years ago I met “the perfect man” — caring and loving.

When we moved in together I noticed behaviour changes, drinking, smoking weed multiple times daily and other substance-use.

He admitted to depression but refuses to seek professional help.

I don’t to want to leave because this isn’t the man I knew.

When I try to get him help, he lashes out.

I still see a future with him, but it’s become exhausting and has taken a toll on me.


Signing off “Torn” means you do want out, at least for a while. And it may be the one consequence of his behaviour that wakes him up to the need for professional help.

Make a list of places where he can start the process — his own doctor regarding depression and referrals, substance abuse clinics, alcohol rehabilitation programs.

Then take a break, at least three months. You’ll know by then if you’re willing to test the relationship again.

Tip of the day:

Overly zealous disdain for a sibling’s partner is neither helpful to the sibling nor the couple’s children.

Read Ellie Monday to Saturday. Email ellie@thestar.ca or visit her website, ellieadvice.com. Follow @ellieadvice.

Reader needs to let his sister form her own conclusions about her husband, Ellie says.

© Richard Lautens
Reader needs to let his sister form her own conclusions about her husband, Ellie says.

Read more of Ellie’s advice:

Taking care of my kids is exhausting. Is this my life now?: Ask Ellie

Grandma wants me to have a baby as revenge against cousin: Ask Ellie

Getting back into dating is terrifying: Ask Ellie

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