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How to support my brother who is struggling to support his wife who wont seek help

Community Member

My brother and his wife have been having difficulties for a number of years now. its hard because he is quite isolated living in a different country where English is not the first language. My sister in law has threatened suicide, get angry with the kids if she thinks they are having more fun with my brother. This happens so much now that my bro feels he needs to distance himself from his kids so they are not targeted. She has finally agreed to marriage counselling this year but keeps on saying stuff like my brother is the reason why she threatens suicide. She probably believes this to be the case. And its hard for me because we are so far that im not quite sure whats going on at home. All i know my bro is developing anxiety, he walks around on egg shells trying not to upset her (so conversation around the big issue is zero). I am only getting my bro side of the story. But i think this relationship is very toxic and my bro self esteem is diminishing by the day. I feel like my sister in law is being very selfish and playing victim. I am aware i do not know the whole story but i think my brother will be happier if he leaves her in the long run but i know they have a very codependent relationship and his worried about the kids. His currently not a citizen of the country of residence and worried about gaining custody. we advised him to try get citizenship to strengthen his case and talk to a lawyer to know his rights. not to file for divorce but just to know what the lay of the land is if it gets to that. In the mean time we advised him to talk to his wife and tell her how he is feeling.

Im worried about him and i know we are so far away that the support isn't really there as if he was in the same country.

but just wanted to know is there anything else people would recommend to help support him to make the best decision whether that is try and work on the relationship ( although its been like this for approx > 5yrs and getting worse not better) its a big scary decision to make .

I would appreciate any advice 🙂

9 Replies 9

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Mangomagic~

Thank you for joining the bb Forum. I can well understand your worry, and the frustration involved.

Personally I don't think there is that much you can do, even to the extent of giving advice. As you say yourself we are so far that im not quite sure whats going on at home. On that basis what can you say? As the person on the spot your brother's judgment is probably going to be the most accurate - I guess be guided by what he thinks.

One thing that does stand out is that your brother has hard problems to try to come to terms with or resolve. To do that he needs to be in the best place possible. If you suspect he is falling ill with anxiety then by all means encourage him to take steps to look after himself. A visit to a GP and testing for anxiety or depression might seem appropriate.

Other than that being supportive to him this is probably as much as you can do.

Advising him to take out foreign citizenship is a big step, and the legal implications need to be well understood in advance. Citizenship from his original country may be automatically terminated or some other unforeseen major downside may be present, either for him or his children.

I'm sorry I can't be more hopeful or give more tangible advice


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Mangomagic

Welcome to the forum.

Croix raises some great points.

It sounds like you are doing everything you can for your brother. It is a difficult situation but knowing you are there for him will be making a difference. It is also a lot for you to take on so remember that you can't solve this, it is something that your brother and his wife need to work through.

Sorry that I don't have any ideas.

Blue Jane

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
hello Mangomagic, some great comments by Croix and Blue Jane,because it's a very difficult situation when you are only getting one side of the story, but irrespective of the fact that this marriage is grave danger of finishing up.
I don't know how long they have been married, not that that's important, but it's going to be such an effort for the two of them to be able to compromise, as I presume the two of them maybe suffering from depression/anxiety, so there is so much to contend with.
Can a marriage come back when both of them are having personal problems, added onto this is there a r/ship where they can function together between themselves on an amicable basis, not really, I haven't seen one happen as of yet, because there will be grudges which are still held between them and will often arise when they are debating a topic.
His citizenship is something he must do if he wants to stay in our country, and because he hasn't got it, then his changes of succeeding are dampened, and because she threatens suicide and he's not a citizen the chances of the children going to foster care could be on the cards.
There is a lot that has to be sorted out and the sooner this happens the better. Geoff.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Mangomagic,

I too welcome you to the community here. I agree with what has been mentioned already, it is wonderful you are there to support your brother. It is also important for you to try to look after yourself as well in all of this.

I can imagine trying to be there for your brother when he is out of the country must be more difficult. Sounds like you have a close connection with each other.

It may be beneficial to have a chat to someone in your council and ask if they may be able to help you find a Government agency that may be bale to help you understand the rules and regulations of the country involved.

Did your brother and his wife live in Australia at one stage? Is there any chance they could all relocate to Australia? Do you know the wife very well? Is there any one there to support her in all of this?

Sounds like a complicated situation. Sounds to me like she needs help and your brother just doesn't know how to help anymore. Hope something positive happens for this family.

Cheers from Mrs. D.

Community Member

Thanks Croix.

Its helpful to know I'm doing everything I can.

He is going to the gp for his anxiety his getting more overwhelmed. So waiting to hear back.

I want to thank everyone for your very helpful comments. Really appreciated.

It is a very complex situation. My other two sisters are support people for my brother as well, but we all live in different countries.

My SIL lives near her family (who are also part of the issue) but my bro is just isolated from everyone really except us ( but sometimes he isolates himself from us 2)

i can't really talk openly and honestly with my sil. I just get very frustrated and angry. But one of my other sister maybe able too. I don't want to make the situation worse. But I don't think it could get any worse.

Thanks again every one . Really appreciated all the support. You given me good points to think about.

Hi Mangomagic,

Does your brother have any hobbies or interests that he can turn to when he is feeling down?

Is it possible for him to connect with a sporting group, to be with other men, meet new people?

I know that can all be hard enough here in Australia let alone somewhere else where you don't know anyone.

Distractions help immensely.

Cheers from Mrs. D.

Hi Mrs D,

He really embarks on solo physical activities such as walking the dog, bike ride, or running. He now has decided to give things another go with his wife. One of my suggestions was for him to get out and meet people outside the family. We also encouraged him to go seek counselling for himself which he said he will do. I guess its just a wait and see situation now.

Hi Mangomagic

I hope that him meeting people outside of his family and giving counselling are the steps that help make things work with his wife.

Please keep us updated.

Blue Jane