There's this guy, but thank goodness he isn't mine. It's my sister's fiancé who is troubling me and my family. He is absolutely nothing like my older sister! She has big career goals, and he has almost none. She wants to focus on her job, which she has multiple degrees for; he wants to settle down and pop out a few kids. He's older than her, and has been shown at family functions to be over-emotional and controlling. I'm worried that my sister is still in the infatuated stage (they haven't been dating very long) and has no idea what she's getting in to. Auntie, she's still young, and I just feel (so does my family) that this is a huge mistake. We've brought up that we have reservations, and I know that since she's a grownup, she's responsible for making her bed and then having to lie in it. Is there anything I can do to express my concerns, or barring that, get comfy with a brother-in-law who I think is a really bad match for my sis?
Well! For starters, you could treat your sister like the accomplished, intelligent, independent adult that she is and leave her alone, for Pete's sake. I mean, geez: this is a grown-up woman we're talking about! She should be able to choose a husband without her whole family infantilizing her, calling her "infatuated," and telling her outright that she's too young and dumb to know what she really wants.
Not that this is your fault, of course. You're clearly writing to me from inside a giant hive mind of familial disapproval, and if anyone's to blame, it's your folks. But make no mistake: everything about your letter absolutely screams of undermining, overstepping, and a total lack of respect for your sis. You and your family need to take a giant, collective step backward and start minding your own beeswax.
And unfortunately, the boundary-trampling happening here also calls into question whether it's even reasonable for you to think that this guy is bad news. (Case in point: the irony of your family barging all over your sister's business and then calling her fiancé "controlling" is particularly rich.) It is possible that he's truly an ambitionless, overbearing patriarch-in-the-making who just wants to marry a bright young thing and then chain her to a kitchen stove? Well, maybe. But he could also be a stable, low-maintenance homebody who's mature enough to know that his first priority in life is family—in other words, an excellent match for a driven woman who wants to focus on her career, and who wants a devoted, supportive husband to do the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping house and raising children.
Basically, what you see as shortcomings might well be assets to his relationship with your sis—and what you see as "over-emotional and controlling" might be the naturally prickly response of a guy who knows perfectly well that you hate him.
And here's the worst part: if you and your family had just asked questions instead of casting aspersions, you might have gotten valuable insight into whether your concerns were founded. But by attacking your sister's fiancé—and by extension, her judgment in choosing him—you've more or less ensured that even if she did have doubts about the relationship, you guys will be the last people she wants to turn to for help.
But it doesn't have to be that way. You don't have to be that way. Instead, you can apologize, and mean it, for being so hasty to neg this guy. You can be supportive instead of punitive—less, "You made your bed, now lie in it!," and more, "This is your choice, and I'm happy if you're happy." You can recognize that this relationship doesn't have to work for anyone but the people in it, and you can urge your family to do the same. And most importantly, you can promise yourself that from here on out, you'll be a caring, trusting, judgment-free source of support in your sister's life. Because while you can't know whether or not this marriage will work out, you can be sure that if worse comes to worst, and something goes wrong, she'll be a lot more likely to confide in a person who won't tell her, "I told you so."
Have you ever had to bite your tongue about a relationship you didn't like? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
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