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Post Info TOPIC: Need some perspective - long

Dooney & Bourke

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Need some perspective - long
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Hi everybody. Some of you will remember me - I haven't posted here for so long...

I am here to get some external perspective on a tricky family situation. Let me tell you beforehand that I am not feeling well at all - I have a case of the "burn out" and fell sick yesterday. Plus, yesterday the guy I am seeing had to go to the hospital quite suddenly - nothing bad, but it's a situation which adds some stress, and I am sorry I can't be with him. He's still there now.

And this morning I got a phone call from my mom, who probably just needed to talk. Since I am not well, I probably take everything like a huge problem, while it could be solved easily, that's why I am here.

It's all about my sister F (we are three sisters all together). My mom was complaining about the fact her husband doesn't allow her to take any decisions. He is from Sicily, and men from there have a bit of this characteristic, to be very protecting and supportive, but also to take all the important decisions.

All three of us were raised to be strong and independent. My granma was our main example, and mom lived up to that example. We all have advanced degrees, and I think of both my sisters as very smart girls. Please keep in mind I love both of them probably more than myself.

Well, my sister F doesn't work, so she is not economically independent from her husband. He buys clothes in fancy boutiques, while she can have stuff for her only if he decides to buy her a present (which he does sometime, don't get me wrong!), or when I give her my hands me down (I give her nice stuff I don't wear anymore but I don't feel like giving to charity - she got a couple of Killah jeans from me, nice sweaters and shirts, and shoes, since we are lucky to wear the same size).

My mom was telling me some days ago she was having problems buying a 4 shirt!

He does the grocery shopping and the cooking too. Which seems so nice, but also means she is almost not allowed to do anything!

She doesn't seem to be able to be alone, since when he's away for work she goes have lunch and dinner at my mom's - which she doesn't mind, but it's not healthy, I think.

I was telling mom the main problem with F is that she doesn't have a job. And she is not even looking. Her husband brainwashed her that she either has to get some fancy job, like university researcher, or nothing. One of the most tresured things I learned in the US, is that any job has dignity. I worked as a secretary for a music/dance school when I wasn't able to find anything else - and I have a PhD in materials chemistry! Eventually things turned out for the best, but I had to start somewhere - and I needed money!

Well, she doesn't seem to want to start. I think even if she had a job as a secretary, or salesgirl, it would help her get out of the house, give some meaning to her day, and have some economic independence. Even if she got 500/mont, it would be entierely HER money.

I want her to understand this. And this is what mom was trying to tell her. I know mom can be quite harsh, which in return makes F defensive. I want to explain this to her without getting into a fight.

On June 2nd it's a holiday here, and I was planning on inviting F to lunch (may be other sister too, who agree with me on this situation and would help me), but I want to talk to her without her husband, which may be complicated.

Please note I think he is a good guy. He is really doing his best for his family (they have an adorable little girl), but I think it could be better if she was able to step up a little and make him hear her voice.

Sorry if I was confusing. I am not able to think about too many things in this moment, but I love her and would like to help her.

Do you have opinions/suggestions?

Thanks a lot!



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It's tough. I know. You're worried about your sister and want a different life for her. The problem is, it doesn't sound like she wants a different life.  You mentioned that both your mom and your 3rd sister want her to be more independent and self sufficient, but you never say if you think that your sister is unhappy in her marriage.  And it is her marriage, her family, her life.  This might just be her choice and you will have to learn to accept it. 

If you think that your sister is being abused (phyically or emotionally) that's a different story.  Then you need to do everything in your power to help her get out of the situation.  But if you just think that she isn't living the way that you and your mom want her to live, you have to remember that she is an adult and is allowed to make her own choices.  Even if they aren't the choices that you like.

I hope that you and your fella feel better soon.  And keep that lunch date with your sisters even if all you guys do is enjoy a little girl time.  Keeping a tight connect between you three is important and if she should ever want to change her life, she will have two great exampes to use.


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I agree with Boots that if this is the life she wants, and he's not abusing her, then there's not a lot you can do because then it sounds like it would just come down to you having a different opinion than she does on how to live her life.

BUT I think that even if he's not abusing her, and even if he's actually a nice guy and all of that, there is still a very real chance that she *isn't* happy but doesn't know what do about it. I think it is worth bringing up with her. Tell her your concerns and that you feel like he steamrolls her. Maybe all she needs is for someone to acknowledge it and give her the space to vent/talk about it. I think a lot of people stay in unhappy situations that they know deep down aren't good for them, just because they feel alone or insignificant or are afraid that they don't have the support network to make the changes they really do want to make. Especially if she's afraid of being alone, maybe even if she's unhappy, she would rather have a controlling guy than no guy at all. Or, frankly, maybe she's not used to thinking for herself anymore and doesn't even ask herself what she wants anymore, because so much is just dictated for her.

Have you guys ever talked about it with her? It doesn't even have to be a big discussion, but if she says "I really want that dress, I hope he buys it for me" you could say "Are you OK with having to ask him before buying anything? I'd go nuts if I couldn't make decisions like that myself." Maybe her answer would give you a little insight into how she feels about it.

-- Edited by Kelly on Friday 27th of May 2011 11:02:08 AM


Fashion is art you live your life in. - Devil Wears Prada | formerly ttara123


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So sorry you and your boyfriend are under the weather, but it's nice to see you around here!

Unfortunately I think all you *can* do is be there for can't make her have more ambition or more independence. It's so hard not to be judgmental when it comes to close family members, but when they sense the judgment...they move farther away from you, and that defeats the purpose of reaching out. If your mother and your other sister and you all seem like you're "against" her/her husband, it's just going to make things worse.

How old is your niece? Is she in school? It's awfully difficult for full-time moms to think about working outside the home. If she doesn't want to work, are there volunteer opportunities she might be interested in, just to have something else to do with her time? One thing leads to another and perhaps she will gain more exposure to the outside world, and things will pick up from there. (Many people successfully turn volunteerism into paying jobs.)

One thing you said about her husband's attitude about the type of job she "should" have - that sounds like my parents when I was younger. Even though money was very VERY tight, whenever my mother proposed getting a job at CVS or whatever, my dad vetoed the idea. He couldn't accept his wife working a menial job. As a result once they divorced and she had to support herself, she was very ill equipped, not just in terms of her skills but her inability to focus and "play by the rules" of the working world. What I saw is that it becomes more and more difficult to start working for a living if you're out of practice.

Clearly you can't make her see things this way, and nobody wants to think about possibly being alone one day, but it's a valid concern.

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