SIL isolating daughter

dirtboysdadNovember 27, 2005

Has anyone had any experience with a SIL who is trying to isolate his wife, your daughter, from her family? How did you handle it, especially if your daughter was in denial? Did you just back off and hope she would come to her senses or did you try to intervene?

The SIL blames members of his wife's family for his problems and hurting his feelings, and by way of "punishment" tells those family members (his wife's mother [my ex-wife]and his wife's brother & SIL) they cannot see the grandchildren/nieces. Allegedly, if they apologize to SIL or taken a certain action that he demands they take, then they will be able to see the wee ones again. Daughter seemingly approves of this behavior, but we wonder if it's only to protect herself.

(Daughter is SIL's second wife. They have two children and daugther has raised SIL's two children from the time they were toddlers as he has custody of them from his first marriage. ALSO, there is concern, which daughter does not deny, that SIL has sexual identity issues.)

My brother, a psychologist, say he is trying to isolate my daughter from her mother and brother in order to control her.

My brother has told my daughter this but she denies that is happening and now refuses to speak to her uncle, who lives in a different state.

In order to try to keep contact with my daughter and the grandchildren, my current wife and I are keeping quiet - although we, too, believe SIL is trying to isolate his wife.

We would like to speak to my daughter as we know her mother and brother and his wife are missing the children a great deal, especially now that the holidays are here, but have been told not to because SIL would use that opportunity to cut his wife off from us also.

If you've experienced something like this, did it resolve positively and how long did it take?

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I agree with your brother. I've counseled young women in an abuse shelter and isolation is one of the things abusers do,not only from family but eventually from friends. There isn't much you can do at this point because it's all up to your daughter. Just be there for her and let her know that she always has a place to come if things get worse and as hard as it might be,try not to judge her. If she should decide she needs to get out of there and feels you will say "I told you so," she'll look for help elsewhere.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2005 at 6:38PM
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How sad.

I agree with your brother, too. Having been there myself, I'm sorry to say, until your daughter understands what's happening, she won't do anything about it. It can be subtle and the things he says may seem right to her, at least for now. Trying to fix things from the outside won't work, it will only alienate them both right now.

If she does understand what's happening she's probably terribly torn right now, between loyalty to her husband and loyalty to her family. She may sense that something isn't right, and she may feel very embarrassed that this is happening to her. She needs to protect the kids, too. It's certainly important to keep lines of communication open, in a non-threatening, non-judgemental way. Everyone needs to be supportive, invite them to dinners, family gatherings, etc. She may slowly come to realize how his behavior is keeping him from her family.

Her husband is very insecure, and by doing this he feels strong, in control. If your daughter has to continue to refuse invitations, she may eventually realize what's happening and start to take control of her life back from him, as far as her family is concerned. He'll probably just back down if she stands up to his unreasonable behavior.

Obviously, this isn't a good marriage, and they'll need counseling prior to their divorce, but that's probably where it will end up.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 10:39PM
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Yes, that kind of abuse is very subtle and sometimes leads to physical abuse. You see, I assume that she loves this man and that's why she is torn. If she stands up to him, that will probably make him even more controlling because he will feel like he's losing her.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 2:40PM
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While it can lead to physical abuse, it doesn't always. Keep those lines of communication open, keep the invitations coming, offer to watch the kids, or take them all out for an special outing.

In my case, my XH tried to isolate me, and once I figured out what was happening and stood up to him and took control of my and the kids lives, he backed off. There was no physical abuse, only verbal, but I learned how to tune that out. He did get kind of depressed for a while, and the more successful I became in my life, the more he withdrew. He finally left (good riddance), and married his girlfriend!!! He does control her. But that's a whole other story.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 9:31PM
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Sounds like control to me. The same thing happened with my DD. She did find the courage to leave after two years of marriage and a beautiful baby girl. She is now remarried to a wonderful loving man. Keep the communication going. My exsil tried to monitor phone calls between my daughter and I but I kept using different phones so he could not block the number. I'm not one to beat around the bush so I kept telling my DD his behavior was not right. She kept telling me she was lucky to have him, they had a wonderful life, a great home. She came and spent a week with me and realized how much better I had it. No one stood over my shoulder or checked the mileage on my car. He called her everyday she was here. Drove me crazy. He had her in such a mind set that she had forgot how life was suppose to be.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 1:30PM
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