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My Partner's brother puts him down all the time

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi all. I have an issue, which bothers me, and I don't know if it's my place to say anything or not. I have a wonderful man in my life who is selfless and caring and passionate and reliable and enthusiastic ...... I could add many more, but you get the gist! I think he's wonderful! However, he has an older brother who speaks down to him all time. He tells him that he's useless and hopeless and that everything he does turns to crap.

We are all grown adults - I am in my late 40's and my partner and his brother are both late 50's to early 60's - so it's a well practiced/learnt behavior. His parents are very elderly and in an aged care facility, and a few years ago they lost a sibling to cancer. My partner is also a cancer survivor! But he - my partner - also seems to think quite negatively about himself and other things. For example, any time something needs fixing, he starts out by thinking and saying things like "Knowing my luck, it will go really badly." or "I'll get ripped off". He also seem to have the attitude that the world is a conspiracy and 'out to get him' and is quite mistrusting.

I, on the other hand, believe and have great faith in a Higher Power that I choose to call God, although I'm not religious as such, and generally have a very positive and grateful attitude. I don't go to church (but did for a little while), and he was brought up in a strict catholic environment but does not seem to believe in anything like I do. I sometimes feel that if he did have a belief and/or faith in something that it may help .....

But it just really bothers me the way his brother always puts him down. And when I think about us in the future - as in living together - I wonder/worry about how that negative thinking will affect us as a couple. I do hope that I can and indeed maybe even AM having a positive influence on him ..... but in saying that, do I pull his brother up the next time he puts him down? And if so, what do I say and how do I say it? Because a part of me wants to just yell at him and tell him to 'back the hell off'. And because I know that if you tell someone something often enough, they'll start to believe it .......... and I don't want my partner to think he is useless and hopeless, because he is far from that.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I look forward to your replies. xox

3 Replies 3

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi and welcome

A good post, well written and interesting.

Re: " I sometimes feel that if he did have a belief and/or faith in something that it may help ..... " The only thing that I disagree with. For some reason people that believe in any greater force eg God, Allah etc think others would benefit in believing also. I would allow your partner to believe what he wants to without influence.

As for your partners brother, that is a sibling rivalry/nastiness that has endured decades in the making. It isn't nice but it is the chemistry that needs a soft calm approach. Any flare up in anger/temper/reaction to it will be seen as interfering.

However, that doesn't mean you should be excluded altogether from protecting your partner as it seems he is incapable of receiving respect from his brother.

The approach I am talking about is covered in the first post of the following thread. Please GOOGLE it and see what you think.

Beyondblue topic wit, the only answer to torment

That way you can subtly make points to him to crush his ego and he will get the point eventually that you are on the lookout but not enough flare up to cause a family breakup.

Repost anytime


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Soberlicious,

I agree with Tony this is a very helpful topic for a thread! It is sad at times to stop and listen to people talk to eachother (and even I do it at times which is awful) and truly hear how we speak to others.

Sometimes I don't think we are always aware of what we are saying and how it could be interpreted. Likewise we can get stuck in a pattern of speaking to people in a way that isn't very kind without knowing.

Tony suggests using wit and I do think this is a good idea too. But for me I am not quick witted especially when I am upset so this can be hard for me to do. What works for me is waiting for a private moment and quietly asking if they meant to be hurtful and of course always be sure to use the "I feel" kind of approach.

An example could be next time you hear a put down and it is only the three of you wait for a lull and just put the question out there...

Ummm (brother's name), were you being sarcastic when you said your brother was useless? I'm not very good at recognising sarcasm and it upset me. I feel uncomfortable when you make sarcastic jokes.

Not sure if it will work for you or cause an argument but I have found playing dumb,being bluntly honest, and expecting the best of people works for me.

At the worst people have called me an idiot and then I know these people are not worth my time and effort.

Your partner is lucky to have your love and concern.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Soberlicious96

You are so beautiful!

I think it's the kid in me coming out (that highly spirited aspect) but what comes to mind involves a bit of game playing. A couple of ideas:

  • I believe we have a built in lie detector. When someone tells us a particular untruth it will typically hurt/sadden us (esp if we're a sensitive soul). When we are hurt or saddened we should acknowledge this as bells going off. So, if someone says 'Gee, you're fat!' Ding, ding, liar, no I'm not! The truth is I'm a beautiful super cuddly gal in need of somewhat better health! An interesting game, especially when you find yourself within a group of opinionated arrogant folk. You can be left to walk away thinking 'I could almost hear the alarm bells going off the whole time I was with them'. You become an observer as opposed to an unwilling participant. Next time you're with your brother-in-law see how many times the bells go off. You can even say ding, ding out loud if you like. Teach your partner to observe that his brother is lying as opposed to being right
  • May sound a bit airy-fairy to some but seek out the language of the universe. Look out for synchronicity, signs and such, to point out to your partner. This too becomes a game. People will say 'Of course you're going to see something in everything. Gee, you're gullible'. Seeing something amusing in just about everything is like being given a gift! Brief story: Some time ago, I'd consulted someone about why I was feeling so down, impacted by other's opinions of me. He told me that I was so covered in the mud others had thrown at me over time that I needed to be conscious of finding ways to wash it all off. On the way home, I stopped at a red light. There to my right was a billboard which read, in big bold letters 'Wash off the mud'. True story!

We have an ability to re-learn spiritual aspects of our self and our connection to Source/Universe/God. Yes, I too was raised Catholic. Whilst I've taken a few aspects of Christian teaching with me throughout my spiritual growth, I've expanded beyond religion (as I could never connect with the focus on 'flaws' and 'unworthiness'). At 48, I'm still learning about that amazing connection to the unseen, through the aids of instinct (which involves lie detecting), game playing and so much more. Consider being your partner's guide in the process of playing with expanding your own connection. Have fun!

Take care